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Historically, discourses of Black criminality have been bound to depictions of Black people as unable to form and maintain proper families and domesticities. However, what if those patterns taken to be deviant and dysfunctional were instead understood as expressive of modes of governance? This approach, though, runs against the grain of Black intellectual formations that emphasize the importance of turning toward ungovernability—that understand governance as always already a form of capture and an extension of a fundamentally antiblack regime of property. The chapter returns to what may seem like familiar historical scenes—the first years of Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Moynihan moment of the 1960s, and the emergence of Black Lives Matter in the 2010s—in order to read them differently, highlighting how discourses of criminalization transpose alternative Black political orders into racialized narratives of failed home, family, and privacy.

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