Writer, artist, and “recovering academic,” Béalleka left a decade-long, tenure-track teaching career as a professor of literature and cultural studies in 2015. A graduate of UT-Austin’s postcolonial literature and theory program, Kenyan-native Béalleka–then known as Lynn Makau–specialized in contemporary, fictional representations of American slavery; queer theory; and transnational feminisms. She coined the term “peculiar intimacies” to describe the complex + troubling history of Black and white America, and received teaching and research awards from the MacArthur Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Lilly Foundation, and others. Her ongoing recovery has taken several turns, including a transcendent encounter that resulted in claiming (not changing) her name.
As a scholar/consultant, Béalleka offers a critically informed, affective approach to cultural literacy that invites clients to study deeply-held beliefs about themselves to better understand their role in perpetuating divisiveness. Her clients include numerous arts and education organizations, entertainment producers, and government agencies. Her commitment to accessible spiritual journeying brought her to the Global Solar Eclipse Festival where, in 2017, she presented on consent, privilege, and entitlement within otherwise conscious communities.
A visibly raced and gendered veteran storyteller in Portland, Oregon–the whitest urban center in the U.S.–Béalleka also facilitates “Self-Care as Resistance,” or SCARS, a seminar she co-created for Black women’s survival in predominately white spaces. She is deeply inspired by the life and literature of Octavia E. Butler, and offers public education courses on Butler, Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward, Claudia Rankine, and James Baldwin, whose writing and reception inspired her seminar, “I Am Not Your Negro Woman: Intersectionality and the Black Female Subject.” She currently resides in northern New Mexico where she’s writing a memoir and developing curricula funded by Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council.