This isn’t the first time Rihanna’s killed someone off. In 2011, my alter ego Kismet Nuñez wrote this on “Man Down,” violence and black girl alien vengeance:
“Rihanna’s video for “Man Down” dropped last week and set the web on fire. The way justice and rape, innocence and violence work in the video–and the non-sensical responses to it–have already been outlined by better writers than me.
I’m writing this post to take the video to its logical conclusion:
Click the image above to go to the Storify or browse/search the uber simplistic fairly messy html version I exported after the jump (Storify won’t embed on WordPress.com sites; one day, when I am a cool kid, I will finally transition #DHtheBlog to a self hosted space).
Before you go fishing for texts, this thirty minute exercise reminded of a few things:
1) As far as we think we’ve come in the study of sexuality and slavery, we have barely brushed the surface. I’m quite concerned with excavating histories of black female intimate pleasure, kinship, and affection. But I’m also interested in where those bonds break down into despair, betrayal, or terror. This breakdown, I think, is the nature of bondage, the heart of its violence. And the extent to which we still create affective bonds and still find climax is the heart and life spark of black diasporic brilliance.
2) Caribbean scholars are the vanguard (again, thank you Keguro for this reminder and for pointing me again toward Bush and Rheddock). Joan Dayan’s essay on Erzulie, Barbara Bush, Rhoda Rheddock, each push boundaries but also speak the common sense of black sexual lives into existence.
3) This list was part of a brief and messy brain dump and it is still missing the Spanish-speaking Caribbean (an essay on Puerto Rico slipped in, of course), Brazil, and Cuba. It is also missing continental Africa. With more time, I would have added the essay on slaving as a history of women by Joseph Miller and the edited volume on Women and Slavery by Martin Klein and Claire Robertson. But…the cafe was closing….
4) The scariest work, the work that leaves me nauseated after reading, is the work we need more of. Ed Baptist’s article on “Cuffy” and “fancy girls” makes me ill every time I read it. I read it again and again because there is something there, something of the rotten core of bondage and making a New World that we have yet to capture in what we call sexuality studies or histories and studies of slavery. I also return again and again to Thelma Jenning’s essay, although it is traumatizing in ways Hartman described in “Venus in Two Acts.” I also return again and again to Douglass’s quote: “Every kitchen is a brothel” and the way Christina Sharpe expands on this formulation to shift our attention from bondage as just racialization or just a labor regime but also to the important role of gendered racial violence.
We haven’t done nearly a tenth of what we need to. We have so much more to tap into and it will be dangerous and disgusting and provoking and painful going. But we must do this dirty work.
And still, my hope, that there is something at the end of this twisted and dark rainbow, something that redeems us, saves us from ourselves, something that we can call black life. This hope remains.
Featured Image: “Live Stock,” illustration, 1832 edition of Frances Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans
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In the wake of the Charleston massacre, Bergis Jules and Ed Summers collected tweets about the shooting and analyzed how social media users described events. Labeling it an act of terrorism, as we know, took time. More than it should have. Jules and Summers work also revealed that relabeling the shooting as an act of terror occurred in large part because of agitation and curation by organizers and observers online. Mainstream media sites also adjusted their descriptions of events as details poured in, adding information (including racial descriptors) sometimes within hours of posting.
#Detroit is dear to me but I don’t do enough there. I want to do and learn more about the city, the organizers, the way Detroit activism connects to the Midwest, the way its blackness and radical qtpoc insurgency operates.
I found my way to loving Detroit through Allied Media Projects, the Allied Media Conference and the #chosenkin and black feminist/rwoc personhood doing the work.
Grace Lee Boggs is Detroit insurgency embodied and she turned 100 this week.
Bree Newsome (with support from local activists) scaled the flag pole in front of South Carolina’s courthouse in Charleston, and takes down the Confederate flag at dawn on June 27, 2015. She was immediately arrested.
[Edit: Added video created of the action, via Patrisse Cullors-Brignac]
For updates follow ColorOfChange.org and @fergusonaction on Twitter. (Photo also needs a photographer credit: Please tag in comments)
Try and tell me Black women don’t show up. Y’all all talked about it. She (with local support) did it. GLORY.
The mysterious Antikythera Mechanism, an astrolabe known as the first
computer, was recovered in 82 fragments from a sunken shipwreck off the island of Antikythera around 1900. Although it is widely believed to have been constructed by a Greek astronomer around 100 BCE, this origin story has not been confirmed. No other such technologically complex artifact appeared anywhere in Europe until late 14th century. In 2015AD, BQF Theorists unearthed rare, previously unseen records and unheard sound clips claiming to detail the true origins of the mechanism as designed and constructed by a secret society in ancient Ifriqiyah as a device for time displacement.Album originally released through DWS Summer 2015 Catalogue, Available for free download at deepwhitesound.com/dws157/
There is a lot happening. Charleston. Confederate flags. Lee Circle (#nola). History x Memory x Slavery x Black life and death. Obama dressing down undocumented LGBT activists and issues. Everyone has something to say.
Feeling scattered and disconnected. Spending some time today pulling things back together. On the book project, on the blog, in my archive.
Because this is the one thing I keep coming back to: This book isn’t about an easy freedom. It isn’t about freedom papers or sigils or speeches or the making of a black bourgeoisie. This book is about African women and women of African descent and New World precarity and the soul murder of choosing yourself over your kin, your kin over your lover(s), your lovers over your emancipation.
And how, and yet, and within all of that we still find ways to survive. What does that mean to live with parts of yourself dead and gone? Octavia Butler tackled slavery and time travel and she knew–you don’t come back whole from that. You lose parts of yourself on your way to freedom. You lose an arm on your way home. And Katherine McKittrick (who tackled Kindred with such beauty) also knows and yet she marks something else too. In what has to be one of the most chilling and rousing lines published in academic literature this year, McKittrick held space for women long dead and gone: “Yet a voice interrupts, says she.” Says she was born free. Says it around lost limbs and the “death toll” of the archive, says it in a voice echoing down a long tunnel but still audible, alchemized into existence in McKittrick’s hands, black magic black scholars must wield everyday if we are to choose ourselves:
“I told my Grandma that we should have chosen ourselves. I tell her that we should have let us in. We should have held each other, and fallen in healthy love with each other, instead of watching shame make parts of us disappear.” – Kiese Laymon
What does a phantom arm feel like? When is a scream a death knell and not a siren or an alarm? Or a connection? When is it all of the above? Where are the time travelers, the ones who open portals wide for ghosts to peer in? What is an interruption but an history, an account, a narrative, space held in time for our past selves to walk through, arms thrown backward and wide across dark matter answering a siren call and a desire (theirs and ours) to be heard? A call for retribution, reparation, and vengeance?
It’s my favorite time of year! I’m in the D prepping for the Allied Media Conference! Me, Moya Bailey, Van Bailey, and Kai Green are getting ready to coordinate, moderate, discuss, play, and WERK with the amazing folks of color attending the Dismantling the Ivory Tower Network Gathering: