Drawing from Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, this essay uncovers the ontological eradication of “black child” in institutions of school and juvenile justice. This eradication is rooted in sexualized violence and the ungenderings of black children. Yet such institutions are ostensible forms of “care.” They hold black children’s bodies. Their metrics hold black children to standards of whiteness. They hold black children as their representational property. Black children become the “meager” representations of school failure and also the ghostly referent for inequalities facing nonblack children. Poor, disabled, English-language learners and students of color are, generally, more often talked about as suffering “like” black children. Black children are both the spectacle and the specters of educational discourse and juvenile justice. In contrast to “care” and the “hold,” Sharpe positions black people engaged in “wake work” as (be)holding relations, provoking us to consider how we (be)hold black children in the wake of antiblack juvenile institutions.
Not Child but Meager: Sexualization and Negation of Black Childhood
Tezeru Teshome is currently a PhD candidate in theater/dance at the University of California, San Diego. Her research examines how representations of black childhood underscore juvenile justice policies and vice versa. Aside from her scholarship, she has a fierce passion for writing and directing taboo stories and teaching improv theater.
K. Wayne Yang writes about decolonization and everyday epic organizing, particularly from underneath ghetto colonialism, often with his frequent collaborator Eve Tuck and sometimes for an avatar called La Paperson. He is currently a professor in ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego. He collaborates with the Land Relationships Super Collective, the Black Teacher Project, and Roses in Concrete.