This article unspools the history of nylon as a commodity between two Black feminist cultural expressions, Senga Nengudi's R.S.V.P. series and Audre Lorde's Zami. The first popular petroleum‐derived synthetic fiber, nylon was a crucial material in building what Dwight D. Eisenhower was to dub the “military‐industrial complex.” Through readings of R.S.V.P. and Zami, the article traces the racial and gendered history of nylon as both a fashion commodity and a military resource. These readings demonstrate Black feminism's central relevance to US military imperialism, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, as well as imperialism's impacts on Black femininity during the Cold War. This article argues that Black feminist aesthetics, such as those Nengudi and Lorde employ, restores the context of commodities like nylons, revealing the centrality of Black women's productive and reproductive labor to US empire. Most important, as R.S.V.P. and Zami restore context, they also generate a system of value in opposition to racial capitalism that does not depend on violence against Black women.

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