Sunday, 9 June 2013


"Impossible to fathom was that all this death had been incidental to the acquisition of profit and to..."

"Impossible to fathom was that all this death had been incidental to the acquisition of profit and to the rise of capitalism. Today we might describe it as collateral damage. The unavoidable losses created in pursuit of the greater objective. Death wasn't a goal of its own but just a by-product of commerce, which has had the lasting effect of making negligible all the millions of lives lost. Incidental death occurs when life has no normative value, when no humans are involved, when the population is, in effect, seen as already dead. Unlike the concentration camp, the gulag, and the killing field, which had as their intended end the extermination of a population, the Atlantic trade created millions of corpses, but as a corollary to the making of commodities. To my eyes this lack of intention didn't diminish the crime of slavery but from the vantage of judges, juries, and insurers exonerated the culpable agents. In effect, it made it easier for a trader to countenance yet another dead black body or for a captain to dump a shipload of captives into the sea in order to collect the insurance, since it wasn't possible to kill cargo or to murder a thing already denied life. Death was simply a part of the workings of the trade."

- Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, Saidiya Hartman (via obscure-one)

whatiloveaboutbeingqueer: What I love about being queer is the...


What I love about being queer is the ability to grow and transform my sexuality. The recognition that our sexualities are complex and ever evolving, just as every other part of us, is a blissfully freeing thing. Regardless of anything else in the entire world, I am not bound by anyone else's rules beside my own. Queer is freedom, possibility and space.

-Kim Crosby, Toronto

This is interesting to think about this in relationship to blackness' relation to normativity, perhaps "slavery, impossibility, and captivity" instead… which is another way of saying only in such terms can any real knowledge of "freedom, possibility, and space" be found and inhabited, which is also to say Black Queerness is the condition of possibility of radical queerness as such

posttragicmulatto: Nina Simone talking about The Blackness.


Nina Simone talking about The Blackness.

klovers: Happy 38th Birthday, Lauryn Hill!!


Happy 38th Birthday, Lauryn Hill!!

I think this is exactly how I think about black music… I...

I think this is exactly how I think about black music… I really care less about what the lyrics mean and I am more interested in how people read the lyrics, what they hear in the music, what meaning they project onto its fleshy performance, and what they carry forward in it… In that way, my theory is oftentimes a critical engagement with people's engagement with the music and an attempt to say "you can hear it a different way and this is what it could give us if we amplified these features" then some search for what the artist really means…

Why do you have to bring up race?

Why do you have to bring up race? :


"New Slaves" by Kanye West as performed on...

"New Slaves" by Kanye West as performed on SNL

"Ya'll came to turn it up
I came to tear it down
I came to air it out
Now what the hell they goin say now?"

"New Slaves" by Kanye West projected onto building...

"New Slaves" by Kanye West projected onto building in the 66-site global unveiling

Ordinary Revolutionary.: Black people and hardcore music

Ordinary Revolutionary.: Black people and hardcore music:


you know what it is?
it draws you in because they talk about being an outcast. of hurting. of wanting to die. of wanting to be loved. of hatred. of being misunderstood.

they yell scream spit punch kick cut and cry over pain.

and even though its [generally] some white boys [the most privileged not-ever-having-to-really-know-pain muhhfuckuhs alive], theyre fucking singing our song. who the fuck knows about death more than the Black body? who knows more about being misunderstood than the Black kid?

it makes sense now. why i like it so much. it always confused me how "these white boys are singing my life", and its because theyre talking about pain. about death. about giving up. about wanting to sock someone in the jaw. of course i get it.

im singing your songs about YOU, white boy.



apihtawikosisan: sincerelysarita: Nineteen-year-old Tarikuwa...



Nineteen-year-old Tarikuwa Lemma is a survivor, of an international adoption scandal. When she was 13, she was effectively sold from her native Ethiopia to an American family. The corrupt "adoption agency" convinced her father, who was a widow, that Tarikuwa and her younger sisters were headed to the U.S. as part of an educational exchange program, and that they would return home every summer and on holiday breaks. Little did he know, his daughters had been placed with adoptive couples in the U.S., never to return. Tarikuwa's name was changed against her will, and she was forbidden by her American "family" from speaking her native language. The issue of transnational adoption, its evangelical Christian component, and the exploitation of communities that sometimes results, is the subject of the book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce, who appeared, along with Tarikuwa, on last Sunday's "Melissa Harris Perry" show on MSNBC. Below is Tarikuwa's satirical look at the "rescue" of children from her home country, to "better lives" in America.


Stop 'Rescuing' African Children Through Corrupt Adoptions

Tarikuwa Lemma appearing on Melissa Harris Perry Show April 28, 2013.

From The GrioNineteen-year…

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Doesn't seem to matter the background of the child, the methods of colonialism and assimilation haven't changed.


This is powerful and demands an answer to the question, how does...

This is powerful and demands an answer to the question, how does one earn her love in this context? If we expand the frame a little bit and don't see it as a personal dispute between two people but instead within their respective positions, their ontological places in this world imbued with violent history, the question is: how does one earn black love when their entire existence is produced in a violent destruction of the black body?

Said in a non-questioning way: white people don't have a right to life, you need to earn it muthafuckers…

thepeoplesrecord: The troubling viral trend of the "hilarious"...


The troubling viral trend of the "hilarious" Black poor person
May 7, 2013

Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It's hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites ("I was eatin' my McDonald's") and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey's heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public's desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that's a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of "hilarious" black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a "colorful" style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.

Before Ramsey, there was Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder, only to wind up famous for his flamboyant recounting of the story to a reporter. Since Dodson's rise to fame, there have been others: Sweet Brown, a woman who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year, and Michelle Clarke, who couldn't fathom the hailstorm that rained down in her hometown of Houston, and in turn became "the next Sweet Brown."

Granted, the buzzworthy tactic of reporters interviewing the most loquacious witnesses to a crime or other event is nothing new, and YouTube has countless examples of people of all ethnicities saying ridiculous things. One woman, for instance, saw fit to casually mention her breasts while discussing a local accident, while another man described a car crash with theatrical flair. Earlier this year, a "hatchet-wielding hitchhiker" named Kai matched Dodson's fame with his astonishing account of rescuing a woman from a racist attacker. But none of those people have been subjected to quite the same level of derisive memeification as Brown, Clark, and now, perhaps, Ramsey—the inescapable echoes of "Hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife!" and "Kabooyaw," the tens of millions of YouTube hits and cameos in other viral videos, even commercials.

It's difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the "ghetto," socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.

Ramsey is particularly striking in this regard, since, for a moment at least, he put the issue of race front and center himself. Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, "I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!"

The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it's notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.


Now that you know this is a thing, please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn't a hilarious joke.

"… there is no way to reject the thesis that there is something...

"… there is no way to reject the thesis that there is something wrong with being black beyond the willingness to 'be' black – not in terms of convenient fads of playing blackness, but in paying the costs of anti-blackness on a global scale. Against the raceless credo, then, racism cannot be rejected without a dialectic in which humanity experiences a blackened world." -Lewis Gordon

"The first is my issue with the word appropriation. According to Oxford English Dictionary, the verb..."


The first is my issue with the word appropriation. According to Oxford English Dictionary, the verb appropriate means "to take for one's own purpose, typically without the owner's permission." This definition is simple, yet there is much packed into it. What does it mean to own a (piece of) culture? What does it mean to take a (piece of) culture? The answer to these questions become muddy when we think about the Harlem shake itself. By many accounts, the Harlem shake originated from a resident named "Al B" in 1981, often done in a state of inebriation. Al B has cited the dance's origins in ancient Egypt, stating because the mummies were all wrapped up all they could do was shake. Bracketing out a discussion of the accuracy of such a legend, let us take Al B's claim serious that he was channeling the spirit of Egyptian mummies. Does that the mean the "Harlem Shake" is just an appropriation of Egyptian culture? Where is the origin of a dance, which is another way of asking: who owns the dance? Appropriation depends on defining our relationship to objects through the lens of property relations, so that an object is the property of a person or group. This relation is always already thorny, but is especially cut by cultural objects. Cultural objects can certainly be commodified, but the issue of ownership is always wrapped up in relations of power, privilege, and propriety. It is no coincidence that appropriate is also an adjective meaning "proper": property, appropriate, and the proper (propriety) all share the same latin root proprius meaning "to own." If we cannot properly delineate ownership for the cultural object, then it is open for the free use by any and everyone. This, of course, props up particular relations of domination, coercion, and force, which will bring us to my second issue with the concept of "appropriation."

If we are to talk about commodities and property in relation to culture, this should swerve us face-first into the topic of slavery and specifically the "human commodity" known as the slave. What is important to distinguish here is that the slave is not simply an "unpaid" or hyper-exploited worker, but a being open to infinite desires of the master, including (and especially) the wanton violation of her body and gratuitous violence. The most horrifying to consider here is that the very happiness of the slave was owned by the master – this means the master often forced the slave to perform songs on the auction block, in the coffle to it, and for the slave to smile and laugh and joke in his/her presence (this is described as the "terror of pleasure" by Saidiya Hartman in her magnum opus Scenes of Subjection). This politics of appropriation can find its "origin" dispersed among the performance of domination we know as the peculiar institution. What we have called "appropriation" implies that black people own their culture and the master stole it from them. Yet, when we let go of romantic terms our claim sounds like this: a piece of property owns a piece of property and was stolen by the citizen who owns them both. How does a commodity own a commodity? How does the owner of that commodity steal a commodity from his own property? If this sounds cruel, we must remember that property relations (ie the relation of "people" owning things) is not natural, but produced in the development of liberalism that is founded within and because of racial slavery. The master is the embodiment of the liberal subject, a being that can own things. The liberal subject is defined as everything that the slave is not, ie the liberal subject owns slaves because the slave cannot own anything. What is revealed in the terror of the peculiar institution is not that black people have no culture, but it is that everything we did was owned by someone else. The relation of blackness to world has since survived into the time we call "post-emancipation," and can be traced in the historical development of popular culture, beginning with minstelsy. Blackface minstelsy began in the age of slavery, most notably popularized by Thomas D. Rice's performance of slave dances and rhythms in songs like "Jump Jim Crowe" as well as his abolitionist performances of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Appropriation does not only imply ownership, but also respect – a proper way of doing things – that is the very anti-thesis of the slave relation that forms the foundation of our society's relationship to blackness. It is not simply that slaves could not own property legally, but it is to say that the ontological distinction that makes the propertied subject (and the very concept of property) possible demands the slave to be vulnerable to a perpetual state of disrespect and violation.

All this is to say that the concept of appropriation mystifies what is actually happening when white people "steal" black culture. Stealing implies a crime or a sense of wrongdoing or doing something improper. Yet the very concept of the proper – as well as property – depends on the black to be radically open to violation. So it is not improper to violate the black, it is in fact the definition of the proper itself. That Harlemites are demanding "props" is indicative of this mystification, for the fact is that nothing was stolen. They never owned their own culture, in any sense. They owned nothing, so nothing was stolen. But I am not really saying anything new here, and I doubt I am saying anything they did not already know. Instead, I am laying the groundwork to think through another way of understanding the suffering they are testifying to. It is not that something was stolen from them, but it is that their bodies were evacuated in the process of making Baauer's "Harlem Shake." This is the grammar of obliteration, and to explicate this we should return to my original Google search for Azealia Banks' remix.


- Looking for Azealia's Harlem Shake, Or How We Mistake the Politics of Obliteration for Appropriation (via so-treu)

blackpoppies: I was going to send this to someone but here you...


I was going to send this to someone but here you go…

The Peculiar Kind (Queers in the Media) spotlight on Black Queer...

The Peculiar Kind (Queers in the Media) spotlight on Black Queer artists

Spotlight on Black Queer Singers

Spotlight on Black Queer Singers


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