Afterword

I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey of this site and saw how the posts have evolved over the past three months. I learned a lot through the process of extensive researching and reading about the relationship between queerness, blackness, and black queerness. If you just arrived at this site, please start from the first post and make your way through the subsequent posts to have a more unique experience of this online Queer Atlantic Museum.

Thank you for visiting and have a blessed day.

On Blackness and Being

“I return to Brand’s “Ruttier for the Marooned in the Diaspora” as as song of direction that contains mercy, a song that contains all of the things that we are. Her “Ruttier” writes and contains Black being as it developed in the wake; Black being that continually exceeds all of the violence directed at Black life; Black being that exceeds that force. For Brand, all of this is knowledge and wealth. And she offers us a song, a map to anywhere, to everywhere, in all of the places in which we find ourselves. The Ruttier: a map to be held; to behold. So we are here in the weather, here in the singularity. Here there is disaster and possibility. And while “we are constituted through and by constituted vulnerability to this overwhelming force, we are not only known to ourselves and to each other by that force.”

– Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

Queer Theorizing

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“Social Text’s “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” along with queer of color critique seek to redress this particular “wrong” in queer theorizing by centering their critique upon foundation texts in women of color feminism – a feminism that has its grounding in black feminist work. Caught in the middle between the struggle to forget and to remember, S.H.E. stands wholly outside or in vestibular relation to feminism and queer theory, respectively. “Aragorn, it is you who are now responsible for middle earth.” If we exclude all references to slavery’s economics of reproduction and desire, then we can make very discretionary claims about its influence upon us, while simultaneously forgetting the (black and white, brown and red) bodies attached to its sorrow and woe. If we attach these bodies to a thoroughgoing feminist catalogue of degradation at the hands of men, then we will not be able to speak to the forgetting that must take place in order for queer theory (or feminist theory) to commence, because wouldn’t such a momentary lapse in responsibility, if not manners, warrant the full force of angry black feminist response? It is my contention that we must break the cycle of our critical attachments by breaking with the tradition of producing black.female.(queer) in a historical register that matters only to her. By breaking with this mode of inquiry, we might be able to reach an epiphany of sorts – one that would allow us to see what happened to us collectively. This collectivity might restore just what we did and do to one another at the moment of our intimate interactions – erotic, racist, and otherwise.”

– Sharon Patricia Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism

Resisting Commodification of Black Bodies

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“During the Middle Passage, as colonial chronicles, oral tradition, oral tradition, and anthropological studies tell us, captive African women created erotic bonds with other women in the sex-segregated holds, and captive African men created bonds with other men. In so doing, they resisted the commodification of their bought and sold bodies by feeling and feeling for their co-occupants on these ships.”

– Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic

The Erotic Life of Racism

“The erotic is one particular kind of glue. The attempt here is to cease thinking about that racial order as constitutive of a hierarchy in which whites are on top and blacks are on the bottom – even the more materialist intervention such as Miles and Brown has eschewed such correlation. […] I delve into the extent to which one particular set of discussions of the erotic in feminist circles influenced and altered scholarly approaches to the erotic. I am suggesting that a critical reexamination of that process might yield more evidence for how racist practice became untethered from the erotic as well as the subsequent critical maneuvers to somehow reattach the thing that was removed from the collective queer body. What makes race work for us? Why do we need it? In order to push this quotidian exercise toward the work of queer theorizing, I focus on the erotic. The erotic life of racism is the bridge between theories of race and theories of sexuality in all of their diverse complexity. Moreover, by thinking through the erotic – the personal and political dimension of desire – I differ from Bonilla-Silva in that his reliance upon an ideological ordering for understanding racism still assumes that racism is structured in a particular way. But when in the orbit of racism one cannot help but think about being there at all because race talk always wants to be someplace else: beyond black and white (“Can’t we all get along?”); beyond the self (“I’m not a racist, but”); beyond the situation (“I wanted to say something, but”). By anchoring the erotic to racist practice, I champion an alternative location for grounding racism – in the quotidian and intimate action that brings belonging to one another out into bold relief and perhaps also into question.”

– Sharon Patricia Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism

In The Slave

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african-slave-trade-33-728

“And she was the first. It was 1761 – so far back before the revolution that produced these United States, so far back before the concept of freedom disturbed the insolent crimes of this continent – in 1761, when seven year old Phillis stood, as she must, when she stood nearly naked, as small as a seven year old, by herself, standing on land at last, at last after the long, annihilating horrors of the Middle Passage. Phillis, standing on the auctioneer’s rude platform: Phillis For Sale.

Was it a nice day?

Does it matter?

Should she muse on the sky or remember the sea? Until then Phillis had been somebody’s child. Now she was about to become somebody’s slave.”

– Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

The Hold

Fisherman Enslaved For 22 Years

Slave-Like Conditions On Fishing Vessels

“The logics of the slave ship and the hold instantiated Obama’s reiteration of that terrible calculus of the inability to “save every black life”: an awful arithmetic, a violence of abstraction. We positioned in the knowledge that we are living in the afterlives of slavery, sitting in the room of history, in a lived and undeclared state of emergency. The ground of compromise, the firmament, the access to freedom and democracy, littered with Black bodies. With the optic of the door of no return on our retina, we might envision, imagine, something else – something like what Joy James (2013) calls “a liberated zone” even though under siege. Across time and space the languages and apparatus of the hold and its violences multiply; so, too, the languages of beholding. In what ways might we enact a beholden-ness to each other, laterally? “Beholden: to hold by some tie of duty or obligation, to retain as a client or person in duty bound” (OED Online). This is what Spillers calls the intramural. How are we beholden to and beholders of each other in ways that change across time and place and space and yet remain? Beholden in the wake, as, at the very least, if we are lucky, an opportunity (back to the door) in our Black bodies to try to look, try to see.”

– Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

How A Girl Becomes A Ship

“It was not natural. And she was the first. Come from a country of many tongues tortured by rupture, by theft, by travel like mismatched clothing packed down onto the cargo hold of evil ships sailing, irreversible, into slavery. Come to a country to be docile and dumb, to be big and breeding, easily, to be turkey/horse/cow, to be cook/carpenter/plow, to be 5’6″ 140 lbs., in good condition and answering to the name of Tom or Mary: to be bed bait: to be legally spread legs for rape by the master/the master’s son/the master’s overseer/the master’s visiting nephew: to be nothing human nothing family nothing from nowhere nothing that screams nothing that weeps nothing that dreams nothing that keeps anything/anyone deep in your heart: to live forcibly illiterate, forcibly itinerant: to live eyes lowered head bowed: to be worked without rest, to be worked without pay, to be worked without thanks, to be worked day up to nightfall: to be three-fifths of a human being at best: to be this valuable/this hated thing among strangers who purchased your life and then cursed it unceasingly: to be a slave: to be a slave. Come to this country a slave and how should you sing?”

– Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

Quotidian Racism

 

“A few days after Tupac Shakur’s death in 1996, I pulled into a Safeway parking lot in Palo Alto, California, with my friend’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Danielle. We were listening to one of Shakur’s songs on the radio; because he was a hometown boy, the stations were playing his music around the clock – a kind of electromagnetic vigil, if you will. An older (but not elderly) woman with a grocery cart came to the driver’s side of my car and asked me to move my vehicle so that she could unload her groceries. The tone of her voice assumed fruition – it was not only a request but a demand that would surely be met. The Southerner in me would have been happy to help; the critic in me didn’t understand why she simply couldn’t put her groceries in on the other side where there were no other cars or potential impediments. I told the woman that I would gladly wait in my car until she unloaded her groceries – that way, there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver. While she did this, I continued to listen to Shakur’s music and talk with Danielle. We were “bonding,” and I was glad that she was talking to me about how Shakur’s death was affecting her and her classmates. When I noticed that the woman had completed her unloading, I got out and we walked behind her car toward the Safeway. What happened next has stayed with me as one of the defining moments of my life in Northern California. As we passed the right rear bumper of her car, she said with mustered indignation, “And to think I marched for you!” I was stunned at first – when something like this happens to you, you see the whole event in slow motion. I recovered and decided that I had two options: to walk away without a word or to confront the accusation – to model for Danielle how to handle with a modicum of grace what would surely be part of the fabric of her life as a black woman in the United States. I turned to the woman and said, “You didn’t march for me, you marched for yourself – and if you don’t know that, I can’t help you.”

– Sharon Patricia Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism

Bentley Mode is “an existence that is black-against-blackness, peculiar-against-queerness, sexual-against-sexuality, secure-against-insecurity, and aggressively striking-against-all angles of passivity. Bentley Mode to be hyper-Everything, even and especially in environments where values of social marginalism are shared.”

Blindness To Gender And Enslavement

“The protocols of aggregation and extrapolation that are at the heart of any attempt to understand the experience of slavery prove to be particularly vexing for the scholar of gender and enslavement. Broad, quantitative trends decenter women’s presence in the Middle Passage and thus they are also sidelined in the histories of foundational generations of new world slave societies. Efforts to disaggregate such data reveal the extent to which records of this sort both illuminate the ideological and economic roots of the traffic in human commodities and at the same time reverberate a kind of willful blindness that characterizes structures of forgetting both during slavery and in its aftermath.”

– Jennifer L. Morgan, “Accounting for “The Most Excruciating Torment”: Gender, Slavery, and the Trans-Atlantic Passages