Fast and Out of Place

They call us dirty cause we break all your rules down
And we just came to act a fool, is that all right? (Girl, that’s alright)
They be like, ooh let them eat cake
But we eat wings and throw them bones on the ground

        — Janelle Monáe, “Q.U.E.E.N.” (feat. Erykah Badu)

The history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist. Blackness—the extended movement of a specific upheaval, an ongoing irruption that anarranges every line—is a strain that pressures the assumption of the equivalence of personhood and subjectivity.

        — Fred Moten, In The Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition

They fail to discern the beauty and see only the disorder, missing all the ways black folks create life and make bare need into an arena of elaboration.

        — Saidiya Hartman, “The Terrible Beauty of the Slum”

to understand the whole language / the whole immaculate language of the ravaged world

        — Dionne Brand, “Inventory”

There once was a black woman. And in the whole of her life she never did a thing she didn’t want to. And she hung for it. Buckling under the rope, jerking, her body resisted the tree she hung from. As the wind tried to blow her one way, she swayed the other. As the weight of the earth desired to drag her down and swallow her up, her feet dance upon some strange unseen steps, her soles never touching the ground. Hands hurried to pull her down –the quick routine of the disposing of Black  folks– failed to grasp her body while she traced abnormal patterns in the air. They said in that moment, as she swung from that tamarind tree, there was not a thing that all of gods, of all the earths, could do to still her body.

She died as she live: refusing the compulsion of the thing which has been named life. And what else could they expect of her? It was said that when she was born she refused to utter a single sound. Neither mother’s milk, nor father’s coo, nor midwife’s hand could draw a single sound from her tiny mouth. It was her mouth of course, and every utterance – the breaths the wails – bound up in her little frame were solely at her beck and call. Even then, she knew that there was no greater endeavor than to outlast the slow death of living in this world. And so her only task, the task of her living was to never forfeit her will to any being outside herself.

They said that as a young girl she would spend her time in the swamps, leaving trails of partially stripped sugar cane behind her. She gifted the Capuchin monkeys with the cacao meant for her master’s hands. She frolicked amongst the Scarlet ibis in the wetlands. With arms spread, legs compressed against her chest, she vaults into the air. It is brief but lost within the cloud of red plumage, there is no distinction between them and her. There was a moment in flight, the movement away, when she was infused with the very most of herself. That lightness of her being threatened to lift her away from the dread soil which drained her life.

More than any single human body. She was feather, claw, sky, water. Soon, her escape attempts were rumored to outnumber the number of slaves on the plantation. They whispered of her in kaleidoscope breaths of admiration, fear, and envy. She was their confusion. This was indeed joy, Her joy, joy that couldn’t be thwarted. An impossible conquest. All set against her was doomed to crumble. There was nothing beyond what she wanted to do, what she must do to secure the sort of living she desired.

It was universally acknowledged that she would have to be put down. She pressed against the limits of how the world was able to hold her. Oh woe is she who threatened to sunder the horizon of dull, iron chains! They said that up until the very end of her time on earth, she held her breath, refusing to gasp even as she was hoisted up the tree. And yet her lips did not pale.

Unwilling to waste a single iota of herself on a world which dared to restrict her living… And even in the so brief moment bound in dirt black grave soil, every island boiled over with outrage. The Capuchin monkeys adorned her temporary grave with the shells of the very cacao beans she had gifted to them. Skies drape deep crimson with the wings of the Scarlet ibis. Dirt black grave soil bedazzled with ruby pinons she once weaved into her head. The ground oozed swamp. Thick brown elixir embracing the one who once embraced it. Raising her from her tomb. Her skin was flushed deep black as the moment she entered the world.

It was said her body refused to stay in the ground. Buried at sunset, only to surface at sunrise. Folks reasoned that since she refused the embrace of the earth, maybe the sea could quell her. And as she was laid upon the shifting azure alter, a deep and soft breeze rushed across the island. A sound not unlike a great sigh.

                                                    

WHO is the women that appears in this story? I cannot cast her aside as simply fiction for as Hartman reminds us, she may be found anywhere in the Atlantic World.1 As Harriot, Phibba, Sara, Joanna, Rachel, Linda, and Sally – or in this case as Anna, Kamala, Annelise, Sade, Majoire, Kathleen, and Deborah.2 Endless arrays of names double by endless arrays of silences.

And what do we know of her? She was a slave? She lived? She was murdered? Lynched? How do I justify trafficking in Black death as a departure point for my own work? That the adherence to a certain code of academic methodology depends on endless extraction for the sake of discrete, complete, and exhaustive stories. That life and death of Black peoples are prorogated, circulated, leached, and spiraled out into an (anti-black) world as spectacle, fact, reality – the subsuming of Black life by the list, the breathless numbers, the absolutely economic, the mathematics of the unliving.3

I want to think about the spatialization of the repetitions of abjection as something settling on top of, draping over the bodies of Black peoples, and furthermore structuring them as what might be called the “death toll” – the primary archive of Black being. Concurrently, it is these very ontoepistemic conditions that orient Black being and that Black studies works to undo. The death toll becomes the nexus through which the abjection of Black peoples and the liberation of Black peoples run.

This presents what we name and practice as Black studies, both as an investigation of the subject which may be called “the fact of Blackness,” and an always already imbricated investment in the liberation of Black peoples from the zone of non-being which we might name as the (anti-Black) world. This poses a particular dilemma: how can we attend to Black being that is not overdetermined by its prefigurement as death?

“In citing Black women, accumulations of abjections concurrently mask and become the fact of Black woman’s living. I want to push against a certain practice which requires, via a produced affect of obligation towards academic rigor and ethical investment, the recitation of abjection: the historiography of Black peoples from slavery through the ongoing dialectic antagonisms of Black liberation versus Black abjection as the dominate mode of engagement within Black studies. And here is my “scholarly gambit” – that I read into this Black woman’s death, reading it aslant to ask what are the possibility towards Black life that are opened up once we resolve ourselves to death not as just the material breakdown of the body, but a refusal to adhere to the ontological-epistemological script encoded with the “desire to be a subject, to be Man, to perform the coloniality of being/power/truth/freedom” that is named “life.”45

This is not to say that she had to die, for let’s make it plain – none of us need to die – but that in shifting the register from her death to her living takes on a generative dimension where something akin to freedom might reside.6

“Insubordinate” Black.   “Disobedient” Black. “Uncooperative” Black.

            “Disorderly” Black.    

                             “Ill-bred” Black.

                 “Ill-mannered” Black.     “Ill-natured” Black.

                                        “Uncivil” Black.

Unruly: the little Black girl whose afro “prevents” the class from learning; unruly: the Black youth “stalking” around his neighborhood; unruly: the “suspicious” Black man outside the bodega; unruly: the group of Black women who on their way to a party are harassed by the police for attempted “solicitation” as they wait for their lyft; unruly: the Black students’ “disorderly conduct” in protesting the lack of Black teachers in their classrooms; unruly: the Black family “making a ruckus” on a neighborhood stoop celebrating their child winning a school spelling bee; unruly: the “resisting” Black body, borne to the ground by bullet and knee, whose gasping/screaming/writhing/praying/begging/crying attests to the life inside it, infusing it, refusing the arrest of death which this White world demands of it; unruly: those Black folks who refuse to let their kin stay dead, chanting the transitioned names along hashtags, songs, voices, paintings, letters, dances that keep them buckling in the grave soil.

Civility. Order. Respect(ability). Obedience. Discipline.
These are codes that structure the rule of law binding human beings to sociality. One may only look to the word civilization to mark what is known as the decorum of existence. Engendering the unrestrained violence which is accepted price of entering this world called modernity. This rule of law details what Caribbean intellectual Sylvia Wynter articulates as the “descriptive statement/prescriptive statements”7 or metacode/metalanguage/metasystems by which “what it is to be human” is inscribed.8  To inquire into what might be termed civil/orderly/respectable/obedient/disciplined is to always already speak of the underpinning ontological/epistemological prescriptions for subjecthood or humanity. However, as Frank Wilderson reminds us, Black folks do not hold the ontological position of “human” who occupy civil society, but rather are staged outside it as a “provision… enabling modality for Human ethical dilemmas.”9

To clarify, it is not that black folks are simply failing to be civil/orderly/respectable/ obedient/disciplined, but rather we fail to adhere to the descriptive statement of being human. Consequently, black folks do not belong to humanness, and in this not belonging, we become unlawful.10 This failure, or unruliness produces Black as “Other,” while simultaneously constituting those who observe the descriptive statement as “human.” These ontological-epistemological abrasions within and against Whiteness are perceived as the willful rejection of the normative mode of being, agitating the descriptive statement of Man.

Unruly: the presence of Black folks that always disrupts, distorts, fractures, and breaks the logics of modernity which they are sutured into as Black subjects.

Such impediments to White life are removed through the deployment of violence, in the forms of imprisonment and lynchings, as a means of disciplining black folks back into the “correct” performance of being as dictated by descriptive statement of human-as-Man. But violence as discipline cannot be reasoned within the conjunction of “if.”  This is to say violence towards black folks is a condition of failing to act according to the rules of civil society (as it is for White subjects) while living within the afterlife of slavery. Violence must be integrated within a larger network of genealogies determining the ontoepistemolgies of Black subjects.

Unruly: the jungle which grows in dark skin, planted and cut down by White hands.11

“The brutalities of transatlantic slavery, summed up in archival histories that give us a bit of (asterisked-violated) blackness, put meaningful demands on our scholarly and activist questions. While the tenets and the lingering histories of slavery and colonialism produced modernity as and with and through blackness, this sense of time-space is interrupted by a more weighty, and seemingly truthful (truthful and truth-telling because iterated as scientific, proven, certified, objective), underside – where black is naturally malignant and therefore worthy of violation; where black is violated be-cause black is naturally violent; where black is naturally unbelievable and is therefore naturally empty and violated; where black is naturally less-than-human and starving to death and violated; where black is naturally dysselected, unsurviving, swallowed up; where black is same and always and dead and dying; where black is complex and difficult and too much to bear and violated.”12

This is to say that any and all acts performed by black folks are always already unruly acts;

and therefore, violence is permissible against Black subjects for they have already committed a violence/violation of not living within the code of be-ing human. It is through this capacity for “gratuitous violence” acted upon black folks that the “gift” of subjecthood is bestowed upon them. The circulation of violence, structuring while simultaneously breaking down black folks/Black subjects, stabilizes and reproduces the descriptive statement of “Man.” The question becomes then: what is this descriptive statement to which black folks are incapable of prescribing?  Wynter observes the descriptive statement of “human” as in fact “overrepresented” by what she calls “Man,” the category of subject articulated as White/Western/Heterosexual/Man, or what she terms “ethnoclass (i.e. Western bourgeois).”13  This “overrepresentation” marks the praxis/logics of being (re)presented, “discursively and empirically” by the dominate subject named “Man,” the “measuring stick through which all other forms of being are measured.”1415 Consequently, in black folks failing to be Man (in acting, in thinking, in speaking, etc.), we also fail to perform their descriptive statement as “human.”

What does this mean for black folks to not fit into this room which is named Being? That its angles, its contours, its curves, its shades are unbearable to us. That Blackness bumps into the walls, jostles the furniture, cutting itself on corners, whispers misheard as bellows. Are we too big? Is it too small? Or is it that there is something always already present in the room, and it cannot hold us both.16

How might we imagine Black folks resisting their ongoing consignment to the zone of non-being that has been/can be/is willfully (mis)read as a refusal to partake in the project of humanity? How might so-called slave illnesses such as “Dysaesthesia aethiopica” (i.e. “rascality”) and “Drapetomania” (i.e. running away disease), be (re)imagined as simply black folks being unwilling to labour on land which is not theirs?

That a history of Black peoples in this (s)p(l)ace called the West is one structured between a kind of forced living-in-death and an unavoidable death-as-living. To be “unruly” (and its various incantation such as “irrational” and “savage”) is then to remark on the condition of the living of black folks struggling under their enforced ontological label. And if this is indeed the case, can it not be conceivable that we are more than a little fed the fuck up?

Blackness does something to Whiteness.
Blackness vexes Whiteness.
Vexation borne from a simple fact that Blackness, Blackness embodied in folks, things that have been “Blackened” do not work in ways which Whiteness understands them.
Black(nes)s don’t not move in trackable trajectories.
Black(nes)s don’t not act in a reasonable manner.
Black(nes)s don’t think in ways recognized as cognizant.
Black(nes)s don’t even lay down and die properly.
        Addendum: (In the way Whiteness wants them to)

Unruly: the Black/Slave that does not/can not/will not work.

The questions then become: One) what is “unruliness” to Black folks?; Two) what can “unruliness” do for Black folks within the afterlife of slavery? Three) What is it to know Black? To think Black? What is that we called Black? And what we attach to Blackness?

Questions concerning being are often bound up in language. This might be an obvious declaration, but what I am specifically gesturing to is the act of definition as a way to produce subjects. The question of definition marks a metonymical action by which objects/persons/concepts are bound to a specific set of ontologies inscribed via language used to name them. Moreover, it demarks how those bound within the strictures of a given definition are crystalized. That is for the sake of coherency of their being, for them to be known and for others to know them, their movement, movement for thought, movement for being, is stilled. This stillness soon becomes concretization – the defined are now the referent – to return to again and again in the production of new knowledges, and beings.

Why do we need a definition of Blackness and its embodiments? What violences are replicated in the process of defining Blackness, “the citation of blackness – the scholarly stories we tell?”17

If Blackness is indeed the Other of Whiteness, the ebb and flow which negates/structures modernity, then language – as the ontological/epistemological tether of persons/places/things/concepts, through their corresponding signifier as words – will always fail by design to account for Black being.

Black being’s inherent fungibility is contingent on a sort of (non)meaning in flux, allowing for its endless deployment in constructing the descriptive statement of Man. It is due to the “inability of language to cohere around the bodies” of Black folks that there can be no corresponding being-in-language for Blackness to inhabit.18 Without a doubt, we cannot depend on a canonical reading of ‘unruly’ to describe ‘Blackness,’ for if we take seriously the coloniality of being/truth/power/freedom,19 it has always already been compromised by the logics of antiblackness.

I want to look towards how black folks have come to engage burdens of be-ing with the wake of the afterlife of slavery. I want to take what C. Riley Snorton calls a “scholarly gambit,” rejecting any form of an “exhaustive or even fully explanatory” definition of unruliness, of Black life, in order to deal with the “political and ethical imperative to the right to opacity.”20 This is to say, I refuse to invest in a totalizing project of (re)defining “unruly” or making any claim to what “unruly” is not.

Rather, we must receive the life of Black folks as theory.21 That always already embedded in Black folks’ bodies, moving through this anti-black world, is a grammar or what bell hooks calls a “critical speech” which rather must be “witnessed” as the testimony of living-as-resistance while continuously being (dis)formed by antiblackness.

Unruly: the uncontainable, the innumerable, the ruckus, the restless. Blackness wiggling out of place, thwarting any effort to clutch it.

I find myself thinking about what are the types of discursive moves one must performe so that we might read Blackness another way, what might be called unruly way:  First, to read “unruliness” as endless (re)articulations through various bodies of Black folks; Second, the (re)orientation from being (noun) to be-ing (verb), what Sylvia Wynter calls “Being human as praxis.”22 At the convergence of these two moves Blackness emerges at the moment in which black people act in accordance to how they desire to live in the world. This is not to say that one can fully escape language as defined within the logics of anti-Black. Rather these moves attempt to clear for us an ideological space, gaps of knowing-being wherein language from the zone of non-being is imagined, and alternative readings of unruliness emerge as a practice embodied in the everyday living of Black folks.

Unruliness: the spilling over of Blackness that cannot be contained in the Black subject’s body, living their life of Black folks which descriptive statement of Man is unable to account for and, therefore, is perceived as a Black body in rebellion against the teleology place before it.

How might we looks at this “living their life” in terms of what Thomas DeFrantz calls “Black creativity,” a practice formed out of “a constellation of living that has everything to do with imagining together forward.”23 That Blackness embodied has a sort of ingenuity serving as an ontological choreography that has the potential to produce counter-narratives to the “script of life” called the descriptive statement of the category of “Man.” Here I’m thinking of Dionne Brand’s claim that life in the Black Diaspora is “fiction . . . a creation of empires, and also self-creation.”24 It is precisely this tension – between “living inside and outside” of Black life for Black folks and Black life as the Human Other underpinning this ecosystem of antiblackness – where unruliness resides.

Black folks living within the afterlife become who Wynter’s characterizes as “homo narrans,” a “hybrid- auto- instituting- languaging- storytelling species,” whose (re)fashioning of their being exceeds their descriptive statement, via “radiant moments of ordinariness made like art.”25 I am reminded of Michelle D. Commander’s claim that literature is the grounds on which “the enslaved and their descendants took and have continued to take back control over their bodies.”26 Taking up Commander’s provocation: how might literature, and art in general, serve as a site where a method of unruliness, or Black liveliness is produced, bearing witness to an alternative archive capable of refracting endless modalities of Black being under threat of erasure by the Black subjecthood within the afterlife of slavery?

“. . . queen of the Convoi Sans Peur; queen of the rebels, queen of evenings; queen malingering and sabotages; queen of ruin; who lost an ear and been shacked to a ten-pound iron for two years after the rebellion of 1819 had been betrayed, after the plan to kill de Lambert, and all his own had been discovered… she had been given a ten-pound iron ring to wear. She had been given thirty-nine lashes. She had been given her own ear in her mouth. She had been given a heart full of curses and patience.”27

In Brand’s inventorying of Marie Ursule’s accumulated titles, she marks the double bind of Black life’s ontoepistemic nature within modernity: subjugated in order to prevent the threat of distortion that is their be-ing; yet, it is this very subjugation that produces the unbearable condition of Black life under chattel slavery that emboldens the Slave to rebel against their descriptive statement as the Human Other. Marie Ursule’s epithets denote dominion, but also enfleshment. Marie Ursule is rebellion. Marie Ursule is malingering and sabotage. Marie Ursule is ruin. Indeed, what does Marie Ursule’s embodiment of unruliness ask of us in rethinking how life is encoded into Black folk’s bodies within the ontological regime of Man?

“Breathing in sleep was the only time you owned the movement of your chest. When breath was all that was left to you, how light and heavy and in your middle it was. How limbs went limp but moved by some instinct to turn and turn only to help breathing.28

How do we think of the Black body as the consigning of Black life to simply a biological unit, forced to bear the codes of the Human Other? That our bodies, the extension interacting with the world, can not only be held captive, but hijacked for the living for other humans. And that our heart, despite it being the transit site in circulating life throughout our bodies, works to undermine our freedom from the category of human-as-Man which Black life desires.

For Marie Ursule, bound to the numbing choreography of the iron ring, breathing and breathing blackly is to hold and to exhale brief moments that might be akin to freedom. Marie Ursule breathing, or rather the cognition of that breathing, re-constitutes her back as living. It is Sharpe’s “aspiration,” the practice of putting breath, life, back into the body of Black folks in the wake.29  Marie Ursule is not the totality of a captive body, but the enfleshment of an entity struggling to mark a new referent of living in a world overdetermined by the sensibilities, consciousness, needs, desires, and fears of her captor.30

As Brand notes, for Marie Ursule breathing is bound up with ownership of “movement” – the very capacity for movement engendering the otherwisewhat might be done – that Ashon Crawley wonders could be “constitutive for flight, for movement.”31 Breathing blackly opens up the capacity of acting otherwise. To think and act otherwise is not to think solely of some trackable, alternative solution to the problem of colonized, anti-Black existence, but to continuously grapple with the severity of occupying a reality of coloniality, of anti-Blackness and the with possibilities of be-ing beyond it while living within it. Breathing may be the preface to a whole other series of actions that mobilize counter-movements, movements of exchange, capacity to fundamentally change the state of things, transmutation of black flesh to black bodies, black bodies to black be-ing.

Might we imagine the pause, the sharp inhale and deep exhales of Marie Ursule as prefaces to rebellion? Breath becomes a catalysis for Black life, a life which desire to actualize an ontological imperative exceeding the black body. Breathing becomes an unruly act by speaking to the quiet and quotidian forms of resistance that undergird the living of black folks within an ecosystem of anti-Blackness. If we can still breathe in the deep mire of an anti-Black climate, what else is possible for us?

Unruly: the Black heart which beats beyond the body which contains it has passed.

To speak of Marie Ursule, and by extension Dionne Brand, is to always speak of the figure who haunts this paper. That is Brand. That is Wynter. That is Spillers. That is Davies. That is Williamson. That is Sharpe. That is McKittrick, Morison, Christian, and Campt. That is the figure of the Black woman intellectual.

What investment, if any, does Black feminist thought or Black women have in unruliness? Can unruly thought work alongside Black feminist thought towards our mutual abolition of the category of Man?  

The Black feminist intellectual project is uniquely primed to simultaneously contest the un/making of Black folks with the descriptive statement of Man, and to conceptualize new modes of be-ing beyond it. Spillers speaks towards this provocation in her essay, “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words,” where she notes that Black women’s sexuality and gender becomes the site of “great drama”32 among the identity–categories which formulate Black/Men and White/(Wo)men; unable to properly integrate her, evacuates Black women from the matrix of gender and race which converges into the human subject. Black women instead become the site marking the “passage between the human and the non-human world.”33 From this particularly deep zone of non–being, Black women’s insistence on personhood becomes misread as “unruly” within the descriptive statement of Man.

Unruly: she is one who upheaves.

“Black femininity and black feminism are therefore also establishing new oppositional demands that recast human normalcy through the politics/poetics of black femininity. Importantly, black feminism and the discourses of marginality-identity have made a difference to feminism and to other social theories by: disrupting the category of “woman” and the centered subject (race, class, gender, location); calling into question the patriarchal and feminist meanings of private/public, home, work, motherhood, selfhood, nation; critiquing black political movements, black popular culture, feminist theory, and activism; reshaping women’s studies, black studies, cultural studies; re-historicizing transatlantic slavery and post-slavery landscapes.”34

How might unruliness be understood as a sort of ideological byproduct of Black feminist intellectual work that emerges out of the demands to establish a new mode of being? This is say that Black feminist thought is already unruly thought.  

Unruly: the excess energy from the engine that is Blackness.

And yet, this “energy,” this “excess” has become enmeshed within the language constituting the descriptive statement of Human Other. Redirected through the various networks of subjections and abjections, “unruly” (dis)forms, (mis)reads, and (re)embodies into the trope of the “Loud Black woman” or the “Angry Black women” or the “Crazy Black woman.” These tropes, these fictions of Black women’s life function as a proxy for a subjectivity that is perceived as “impracticable and illegible.”35 This illegibility is read simultaneously within the category of “Man” as an immoral erratic which Tiffany Lethabo King names “misandry” and “misanthropy”36; the Black women is one who hates all men and, therefore, all of humanity. Marie Ursule: Queen of Ruin.

Their “distrust of and animus toward the (over)representation of man/men as the human”37 exposed the limits of the fiction of the descriptive statement of the category of Man to hold all forms of life within itself.  It is this orientation against the master code of symbolic life where we find Black feminist thought; in the face of this gratuitous subjection, Black feminist thought is activated to combat the category of Man – through a variety of practices, knowledges, and beings oriented to a “radical commitment to the significance of black female life and the humanity of all black peoples.”38

Unruly: She is who wants to destroy the world.

Surely, the unruly then is not simply a phenomenological condition, another iteration of the archival knowledge deeming Blackness and its embodiments as borne out of suffering and solely bearing subjection, but rather a potential means of critique – a sort of theorization determined by what Christina Sharpe describes as a “blackened knowledge, an unscientific method, that comes from observing that where one stands is relative to the door of no return and that moment of historical and ongoing rupture.”39 I want to emphasize this phrase “living their life” as an extension of Tina M. Campt’s conception of the quiet as the daily actions performed by Black folks filled with “impact and affect, which creates the possibility for it to register as meaningful.”40

This meaningfulness stems from the constant cognition that Black being is constantly mediated, hobbled, dulled, silenced, occluded, obscured, restrained, quailed, exterminated by antiblackness within the afterlife of slavery.

And yet: Black life flourish.

That for Black folks to live, they must pit themselves against the very order of life to which they have been bound. That the ultimate act of unruliness is to move towards death. No, to run toward death. To skip. To sing. To wine. To milly rock.

Death is threshold between the rigid codes of colonial and anti-black, and the vast illegible, unimaginable that might be called a sort of freedom. This is to say that for us to live, we must embark into the realm of Unruliness, the life of Black folks; their “radical capacity to live – to live deeply righteous lives” that always already marks the failure of the category of Man to account for modalities of be-ing outside its enforced descriptive statement.41

Suggested citation:
Wingate, C. W. 2019. “Fast and Out of Place.” AGITATE! 1: https://agitatejournal.org/article/fast-and-out-of-place/.
  1. Hartman, Saidiya. “Venus in Two Acts.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 12 (2008), no. 2: 1-14. These pieces are italicized and centered in the text.
  2. Hartman. “Venus in Two Acts.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, pg. 14.
  3.  McKittrick, Katherine. “Mathematics Black Life.” The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research 44 (2014), no. 2: 16-28, pg. 17.
  4.  Crawley, Ashon T. Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility. New York: Fordham University, 2016: pg. 119.
  5.  Snorton, C. Riley. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017: pg. 11.
  6.  Young, Hershini Bhana. Illegible Will: Coercive Spectacles of Labor in South Africa and the Diaspora. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017: pg. 4.
  7.  Wynter, Sylvia. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom – Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument.” CR: The New Centennial Review 3 (2003), no. 3: 264-337, pg. 264.
  8. Wynter, Sylvia. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom – Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument,” pg. 264.
  9. Wilderson III, Frank B. Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010: pg. 37.
  10. Morrison, Toni. A Mercy. New York: Vintage Books, 2009.
  11.  Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1987: pg. 234.
  12. McKittrick, “Mathematics Black Life,” pg. 17.
  13. Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom – Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument,” pg. 264.
  14. McKittrick, Katherine. Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006: pg. 124.
  15. Wynter, Sylvia, and Katherine McKittrick. “Unparalleled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a Different Future: Conversations.” In Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, edited by Katherine McKittrick, pp. 9–89. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015: pg. 3.
  16.  Brand, Dionne. A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2002: pg. 25.
  17. McKittrick, “Mathematics Black Life,” pg. 17.
  18. Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016: pg. 96.
  19. Wynter. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom – Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument,” np.
  20.  Snorton, C. Riley. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, pg. 11.
  21.  Christian, Barbara. “The Race for Theory.” Cultural Critique 6 (1987), no. 6: 51-63.
  22. Wynter and McKittrick, “Unparalleled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a Different Future: Conversations,” pg. 23.
  23. DeFrantz, Thomas F. “I Am Black: (you have to be willing to not know).” Theater 47 (2017), no. 2: 9-21, pg. 10.
  24.  Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging, pp. 18-19.
  25. Wynter, and McKittrick, “Unparalleled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a Different Future: Conversations,” pp. 18-19.
  26. Commander, Michelle D. Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017: pg. 2.
  27.  Brand, Dionne. At the Full and Change of the Moon. New York, Berkeley: Grove Press, 2000: pg. 5.
  28.  Brand, At the Full and Change of the Moon, pp. 4-5.
  29. Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, pg. 113.
  30. Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging, pg. 31.
  31. Crawley, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility, pg. 33.
  32. Spillers, Hortense J. “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words.” In Black, White, and In Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003: pg. 153.
  33. Spillers, “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words,” pg. 155.
  34. McKittrick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle, pg. 134.
  35.  Williamson, Terrion L. Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and The Making of Black Social Life. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016: pg. 24.
  36. King, Tiffany Lethabo. “Humans Involved: Lurking in the Lines of Posthumanist Flight.” Critical Ethnic Studies 3 (2017), no. 1: pg. 163.
  37. King, “Humans Involved: Lurking in the Lines of Posthumanist Flight,” pg. 164.
  38. Williamson, Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and The Making of Black Social Life, pg. 8.
  39. Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, pg. 13.
  40. Campt, Tina M. Listening to Images. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017: pg. 3.
  41.  Williamson, Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and The Making of Black Social Life, pg. 13.

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