Why acknowledge the non-event of black death?” asks Saidiya Hartman.1 In light of protests incited by the murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis; Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia; and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, this question resonates with urgent frequency. The events of spring 2020 throughout the United States underscored that the political platform of Black Indigenous People of Color has not changed in four hundred years. Hartman summates this platform beautifully: “the abolition of the carceral world, the abolition of capitalism . . . [and] a remaking of the social order.”2 Police brutality, strategic disenfranchisement, and state and intimate violence are all outgrowths of racial capitalism. As long as these systems persist, we remained trapped in a fatal loop that keeps us entangled with our past and continues to produce a scholarship of recovery and longing in the face of an “ever growing archive of black death.”...
cherene sherrard-johnson is Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she teaches African American and Caribbean literature, visual culture, and feminist theory. She is author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (2007), Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color (2012), and two poetry collections: Vixen (2017) and Grimoire (2020).
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson; Ghostly Outlines. English Language Notes 1 April 2021; 59 (1): 225–228. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00138282-8815115
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