|Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney C. Cooper
It’s been a minute since last I wrote my one quote responses, but since my last post, I finished How Long ‘Til Black Futures Month? by N. K. Jemisin and Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney C. Cooper. While Jemisin’s book was what I finished first, I find it more pressing to write about Cooper’s text as I also, just a few hours ago, read about Jussie Smollett and a hate crime committed by perpetrators wearing MAGA hats who beat him and wound a rope around his neck just for living. Just for living.
Our government does not just wage war abroad. It wages war in Black communities at home, controlling Black folks through surveillance and violence, demanding their submission and compliance. When submission and compliance is not freely offered, the state murders Black men, women, and children, citing the rule of law.
Within her book, she reflects on the numerous ways that systemic and institutional racism have been allowed to structurally oppressive black peoples and the numerous ways that black women have worked in resistance to oppression, pushing towards liberation. She talks about how Korryn Gaines received a traffic citation and was ultimately murdered by the police in her own home and her son shot after she started in a makeshift license plate that she had the right to free movement:
“‘Any government official who compromises this pursuit to happiness and right to travel, will be held criminally responsible and fined, as this is a natural right to freedom’”. (Heavy)
Just a few hours ago, Smollett was not arguing anything. He was outside a Subway early on a cold morning in Chicago when guys wearing MAGA hats called him racial epithets, attacked him, beat him, and put a noose around his neck. And, though these violent terrorists – because I believe that those who wear MAGA hats are engaging in an ideological project of projecting (and in some cases enacting) terror, the dehumanizing of others (particularly POC, queer folks, women, and peoples with disabilities), all couched within their perception of government sanctioning of this terrorism in the future of elected officials that are not limited to the president – may themselves not be government workers, they are an extension of the government sanctioned war on Black communities, and, in this case, those demonstrating intersectional identities.
Let these people be found and I would not be surprised if they say that they, the group of them who attacked a man and damn near lynched him, felt threatened by him, because the black body is somehow threatening just by existing in the world.
I am angry, and my heart breaks for Smollett #westandwithJussie, and his people, and for the extended communities who are hurt by this violence.
Today I was thinking about Natasha Marin’s project of focusing on #blackjoy and how to engage in a rhetorical analysis of the premises underlying this statement, the digital visibility project of this hashtag as a counter to the dehumanization of black peoples within the digital sphere. I think this is absolutely still necessary work to do, to call attention to our power in joy
, that rage can be necessary mobilizing and destructive power, but, as Cooper also talks about in her book, that there must also be a creative enacting that arises within feminist (particularly black feminist) movement work. I believe we can hold both: witness atrocity, act within community against violence and hate, and also individually and collectively engage in the visioning and creation project.
And in the short term, I wish Smollett healing, which is more than the body; those enactors of terror, and an often state-sanctioned terror at that, worked to split his body and drive a deep wedge into his spirit and that of those who connect to him, black and queer. May his healing be defiant and may it ripple out to all.
#4of52, #52essays2019, #westandwithJussie, #blackfeminism, #blackjoy, #thisisthebeginningofanessay, #sabbatical, #sabbaticalreading, #amwriting, #amreading,