Privacy: Disclosure

It’s possible to argue that the slogan “the personal is political” comes from a particular bourgeois version of personhood. However, if one starts from the moment of enslavement, then there is no personal and, indeed, no person, for the thingification of slavery takes away “the personal.” Things are not persons. But it is through the... Continue Reading →

Fragments on Bodies

Bodies are notoriously difficult things to think about. They press themselves on thinking, interrupt writing, and impose sensation on philosophy. They fragment style, giggle at logic, and seek pleasure in formulations that favor prettiness over intellectual rigor. And just when we think we are finally writing the body, thinking the body, feeling the body, bodies... Continue Reading →

Black Time

History does not disclose the name of the first black person dragged onto a slave ship, the first black person held in newly constructed prisons, or the first black person forcibly recruited to work on a colonial plantation. But black people have been arriving late ever since, hoping that the slavers have left, the ships... Continue Reading →

Chimamanda Adichie said “fuck, fuck”

African women—women from Africa, women expected to speak for and as Africa, women invited to events to be African—face the daunting burden of speaking, but not too well; understanding, but not too fluently; responding, but not too abrasively; knowing, but not too comprehensively. And always, always, upholding their dignity as African women. U.S.-based institutions invite... Continue Reading →

Seeing Racism

Inside Higher Ed has linked to a blogpost today on how to evaluate racism. This is only a slight mischaracterization. Here’s the section that interests me. GMP, “Tenured female prof at a large public research university,” writes, I don't have the right to comment on whether something is racist or not, but I do have... Continue Reading →

For Matatu Writing

Taking the bus in Baltimore has convinced me that it’s time to start writing bus stories. These would articulate the same sense of awe, wonder, and disorientation available in the tourist-matatu genre. Available as “how to be white in Kenya” websites, “how I was white in Kenya” poems and stories, and “how I will be... Continue Reading →


the psychology of the oppressed where mental health is the ability to repress knowledge of the world’s cruelty. --Audre Lorde, “Eulogy for Alvin Frost”

Timely Service

I have been thinking about two much-heard statements: at the airport, announcements thanking boarding and disembarking military personnel for their “service”; on reality television, the claim, “this is my time.” In one frame, these two statements seem to come from completely different worlds. Service, military and militarized, exists outside the “my.” Time is suspended, indefinite,... Continue Reading →

Souvenir Water

Vegas makes you believe life has a soundtrack. Celine Dion soars to the choreographed fountains at the Bellagio; Tony Bennett as the same fountains recalibrate to match the affect you did not know you had; instrumental music that sounds vaguely classically folksy, approximating that thing always on the tip of your tongue. One sways to... Continue Reading →


A white woman, foreign her accent proclaims, recoils at the prospect of sitting next to me on the plane from Salt Lake, Utah, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Her very affable white male companion reassures her, “it won’t be so bad. You can do it,” before he capitulates to her racist hysteria and sits next to... Continue Reading →

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