Sexual Profiling & BlaQueer Furtivity: BlaQueers on the Run
24 The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Race & Social Justice 179 (2022)
This article has taken some time to recollect. I have been struggling to find the grammar to communicate a phenomenon that is both central to BlaQueer life and beyond BlaQueer living. This difficulty, the silences, the gaps, the nonsensical and agrammatical nature of this phenomena—that of BlaQueer furtivity, the strict scrutiny of Black life and sexual profiling—are central features not only of this project but of the legal, extralegal and social logics and powers that mark, make and remake BlaQueer folks as always, already furtive, subject to strict scrutiny and necessarily sexual profiling. I have been struggling with whether to tell this story, to explicate this project, from the site of my own body—in the history and vein of other BlaQueer folks before me, such as Audre Lorde and Essex Hemphill—or whether to center and utilize a BlaQueer analytic to read and re-read various scenes of subjection and renderings in order to uncover experiences, realities and systems that have generally remained known but unspeakable; known to the bodies of those that live them, but unspeakable because a grammar, let alone a legal grammar, has not yet fully developed to communicate these things. They reside in the bodies, the knowings and the spirits of BlaQueer people. Therefore, this project is less a proclamation, but a witnessing, a recalling and a collection of knowings, groans and utterings that can only be communicated through a combination of theories of the flesh, memory and rememory attempting to make themselves heard through a logic and language unkind and hostile to BlaQueer life, living and testimony. Rememory as in recollecting and remembering as in reassembling the members of the body, the family, the population of the past. And it was the struggle, the pitched battle between remembering and forgetting, that became the device of the narrative.
Though based in, and centrally concerned with law, this project refuses to reenact the ontological violence that grammar of jurisprudence routinely exhibits on Black and BlaQueer people. To that end, I’ve chosen to employ the personal, the cinematic and the affective and couple them with the legal, the mythological and scenes from BlaQueer life, both past and present. Here, I’m attempting to not only answer the call of Christina Sharpe and “defend the dead” but to also speak the truth of the living and the lies of the law. In the historical vein of the works of ancestral truth tellers Ida Wells and her “A Red Record”; David Walker and his “Appeal To Coloured Peoples of The World”; Essex Hemphill and “American Ceremonies” and the countless works and utterances of Toni Morrison, Pauline Murry and Maya Angelou.
The archive that I am working with and through is textual, fleshy and artistic; this archive is the tapestry of Black and BlaQueer life, living, striving and dying. I am using material that arises from the experiences of “the dead, the dying, and those living lives consigned...to death that is always—imminent and immanent.” This is an attempt to make sense of these circumstances and those choices of living while in the position of “the unthought.” The circumstances are nonsensical in the sense that they are unnaturally and purposefully constructed, and those lives and quotidian choices and living and survival and dying strategies are not erected here for critique, yet context, veneration and indictment of the failures of law and the structural violence it creates, maintains and requires as judicial and American precedent. Yet, this project is not an attempt at memorializing; instead, it is a witnessing, a testimony, a recollecting and a record-setting. This is my attempt at care; at care for the dead, the dying and those yet living in an impossible world, inclusive of myself, and the children and the lynchings that come next.
Wilson, T. Anansi, "Sexual Profiling & BlaQueer Furtivity: BlaQueers on the Run" (2022). Faculty Scholarship. 523.