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Afro-Pessimism Dump File

Tourism Stuff

Mourning and remembrance allow a space for grief outside of the context of
appropriation of the narrative resources made available by tourism
Hartman 02, Columbia University African American literature and history professor, 02(Saidiya
V., Fall 2002, The time of Slavery, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 101, Number 4,
pp.757-777, CLF)
Encounter Two At LaMaison de Esclave on Goree Island, I join a group of African-American tourists from Miami
comprised mostly of retired teachers and nurses. The curator of the slave house, Mr. Boubacar NDiaye, attuned
to the longings of African-American tourists, spins a history of slavery designed to remedy its
injuries and confirm African-American exceptionality. In narrating the history of the slave trade,
NDiaye describes those captured and taken to the Americas as the most beautiful people in
Africa, and, as proof of this, he points to the superior physique of the African-American athlete.
For us, he makes a production of joining the group, as if he has just decided to join us because of the auspiciousness of our return,
and promises that it will be a special tour because we have returned home. This staged spontaneity apparently isnt required for
European tourists, despite his assertions to the contrary, all the tours are the same, except for the notable silences around racism,
and the failure to share his critique of the churchs participation in the slave trade or compare the slave trade and the Holocaust
when guiding Europeans through the slave house. The special pitch geared for African Americans endows every remark with undue
gravity, enshrines each object, requires additional aides to escort those crying out of the childrens dungeon and to the Door of No
Return, and ultimately casts NDiaye not only as the guardian of memory, but as the original slave.
A huge portrait of him wearing a loincloth, shackled and straddling the Door of No Return, hangs in the museum shop. The tour
through the slave house is extremely fast paced in order to get large groups in and out in twenty to thirty minutes.
Besides the odd collection of detail and anecdote, scant historical information is provided on the
tour. Prompting black visitors to shed tears seems to be its principle aim. The tour starts out at
the childrens dungeon. Upon entering the childrens dungeon, some of the women begin to cry.
I am surprised since I have been unable to shed a single tear; moreover, this shoddy and sensationalist tour incites my anger, which
seems the only emotion I can express with any ease. Yet watching these women, I realize that they have come
here to act as witnesses, pay respect to those held captive, and properly mourn those described by
Morrison as the unceremoniously buried, regardless of the lures and cliches of roots tourism. They
are aided by and indifferent to the prompting of NDiaye. My own reactive self-fashioning as an antitourist
seems cynical, adolescent, and ultimately a failure to grapple with the messy entanglements of memory and commodification and
terror and tourism. I am not trying to suggest that these weeping women are exemplary models of
mourning, especially given the ease with which the group moves from tears to a smiling portrait in front of the Door of No
Return to an afternoon of shopping; in fact, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to separate the mourning
that exceeds tourism from the contained catharsis promoted by it. Nonetheless, it is important to
consider the possibility of mourning as a counternarrative to the exclusions of U.S. national
history and a personal seizure and appropriation of the narrative resources made available by
tourism. In short, all I am suggesting is that the tears shed by these women might possibly exceed the closures of tourism, if only
momentarily, and that grief might be a form of critically engaging the past, or, at least one that calls emancipation into crisis. As W.
E. B. Du Bois noted a century ago, despair was sharpened rather than attenuated by emancipation. In the face of the freed,
not having found freedom in the promised land, could be seen the shadow of a deep
disappointment. Tears and disappointment create an opening for counterhistory, a story written
against the narrative of progress. 770 Saidiya Hartman




Ontological disarticulation
Black Absence causes Ontological Disarticulation
Wilderson, 03 (Frank, Gramsci's Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society an
American writer, dramatist, filmmaker and critic. He is a full professor of Drama and African
American studies at the University of California, Irvine. Pp. 1, AF)
The scandal with which the Black subject position threatens Gramscian discourse is manifest in the
subject's ontological disarticulation of Gramscian categories: work, progress, production,
exploitation, hegemony, and historical self-awareness. By examining the strategy and structure of the
Black subject's absence in Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks and by contemplating the Black
subject's incommensurability with the key categories of Gramscian theory, we come face to face with
three unsettling consequences.

Hartmann

By attempting to talk about the slave it causes the death of the slave forces desire
for inclusion in society which leads to the exploitation and eventual obliteration.
Hartman, professor at Columbia University specializing in African American literature and history,
and Wilderson III, professor of African American Studies @ UC Irvine, 3. (Saidiya and Frank B,
published Spring/Summer 2003, The Position of the Unthought page 184)
Saidiya V Hartman - Well! That's a lot, and a number of things come to mind. I think for me the
book is about the problem of craft ing a narrative for the slave as subject, and in terms of
positionali ty, asking, "Who does that narrative enable?" That's where the whole issue of
empathic identification is central for me. Because it just seems that every attempt to emplot the
slave in a narrative ulti mately resulted in his or her obliteration, regardless of whether it was
a leftist narrative of political agency someone else's shoes and then becoming a political agent
whether it was about being able to unveil the slave's humanity by actually finding oneself in
that position. In many ways, what I was trying to do as a cultural historian was to narrate a
certain impossibility, to illuminate those practices that speak to the limits of most available
narratives to explain the position of the enslaved. On one hand, the slave is the foundation of
the national order, and, on the other, the slave occupies the posi tion of the unthought. So
what does it mean to try to bring that position into view without making it a locus of positive
value, or without trying to fill in the void? So much of our political vocabu
lary/imaginary/desires have been implicitly integrationist even when we imagine our claims
are more radical. This goes to the sec ond part of the book - that ultimately the metanarrative
thrust is always towards an integration into the national project, and partic ularly when that
project is in crisis, black people are called upon to affirm it. So certainly it's about more than
the desire for inclusion with in the limited set of possibilities that the national project
provides. What then does this language - the given language of freedom - enable? And once you
realize its limits and begin to see its inex orable investment in certain notions of the subject and
subjection, then that language of freedom no longer becomes that which res cues the slave
from his or her former condition, but the site of the re-elaboration of that condition, rather
than its transformation.


Blackness forces everything about that person even their enjoyment to belong
to white people.
Hartman, 3. (professor at Columbia University specializing in African American literature and
history, and Wilderson III, professor of African American Studies @ UC Irvine, Saidiya and
Frank B, published Spring/Summer 2003, The Position of the Unthought, pg 185-186)
F.W. - And he's suggesting that what it means to be a slave is to be subject to a kind of complete
appropriation, what you call "property of enjoyment." Your book illustrates the "myriad and
nefarious uses of slave property" and then demonstrates how "there was no relation to
blackness outside the terms of this use of, enti tlement to, and occupation of the captive body,
for even the status of free blacks was shaped and compromised by the existence of slavery"
(S, 24). So. Not only are formally enslaved blacks proper ty, but so are formally free blacks.
One could say that the possibil ity of becoming property is one of the essential elements that
draws the line between blackness and whiteness. But what's most intrigu ing about your
argument is the way in which you demonstrate how not only is the slave's performance (dance,
music, etc.) the proper ty of white enjoyment, but so is - and this is really key - the slave's own
enjoyment of his/her performance: that too belongs to white people.13


Societys structure prevents whites from assisting blacks the idea of giving up
white skin privilege does not allow whites to become objects like blacks are when
the relationship between the two races will always be one of domination and
submission.
Hartman, professor at Columbia University specializing in African American literature and history,
and Wilderson III, professor of African American Studies @ UC Irvine, 3. (Saidiya and Frank B,
published Spring/Summer 2003, The Position of the Unthought pg 189-190)
F.W - You've just thrown something into crisis, which is very much on the table today: the
notion of allies. What you've said (and I'm so happy that someone has come along to say it!) is
that the ally is not a stable category. There's a structural prohibition (rather than merely a
willful refusal) against whites being the allies of blacks, due to this - to borrow from Fanon's The
Wretched of the Earth again - "species" division between what it means to be a subject and
what it means to be an object: a structural antago nism. But everything in the academy on race
works off of the ques tion, "How do we help white allies?" Black academics assume that there
is enough of a structural commonality between the black and the white (working class)
position - their mantra being: "We are regardless of its historical or geographic specificity.
both exploited subjects" - for one to embark upon a political ped agogy that will somehow help
whites become aware of this "com monality." White writers posit the presence of something
they call "white skin privilege," and the possibility of "giving that up," as their gesture of
being in solidarity with blacks. But what both ges tures disavow is that subjects just can't make
common cause with objects. They can only become objects, say in the case of John Brown or
Marilyn Buck, or further instantiate their subjectivity through modalities of violence (lynching
and the prison industrial complex), or through modalities of empathy. In other words, the
essential essence of the white/black relation is that of the master/slave - And masters and
slaves, even today, are never allies
The societal changes that have occurred since the end of slavery have done little to
ease the view that blackness is equal to slavery.
Hartman, 3. (professor at Columbia University specializing in African American literature and
history, and Wilderson III, professor of African American Studies @ UC Irvine, Saidiya and
Frank B, published Spring/Summer 2003, The Position of the Unthought, pg 185-186)
F.W - One of the things I wanted to bring up is how your book is talking to other very important
books. It's talking to Fanon as you've said, and it's talking to Patterson's Slavery and Social
Death.17 And you talked about the leftist discourses of the '70s, and the univer salizing of
Gramscian hegemony that really falls short of helping us understand a position in civil society,
but not of civil society. It has to do, I think, with how the idiom of power that black people
expe rience has different kinds of manifestations as we move from slav ery into the era of the
Freedmen's Bureau, but there's an umbrella of despotism that remains. And when you
suggested earlier that the book is an allegory of the present, it was so refreshing, because one
can read this book and begin to metaphorize the manifestations of despotism in the past, and
also to think about how it continues in the present. S.VH. - It really is the pressing question of
freedom. That's why for me, the last lines of the book summon up that moment of poten tiality
between the no longer and the not yet. "Not yet free": that articulation is from the space of the
twenty-first century, not the nineteenth, and that's the way it's supposed to carry
predicament, the same condition.

Black people are doing the work of society only to die the state can do nothing to
solve for these harms because racial inequality is continuous throughout the
government and society as a whole.
Hartman, professor at Columbia University specializing in African American literature and history,
and Wilderson III, professor of African American Studies @ UC Irvine, 3. (Saidiya and Frank B,
published Spring/Summer 2003, The Position of the Unthought pg 197-198)
F.W - And living in this order, black people are still doing the work in those innocent scenes.
They're doing the work of dying; black women are doing the work of recognizing white women
in their quests as in Mildred Pierce;28 and black men are performing the work of recognizing
the sexual virility of white men. That's real ly important work that we're called upon to do and
still live under the specter of despotism. So maybe we're still - and this is very tragic B. Wells
club was. We're trying to make ourselves over so that they don't kill us. S. VH. - And I think
the underlying question is, "Where do we go from here?" F. W - Is that leading us to
reparations? S.VH. - Yes. I've been thinking about the notion of focusing one's appeal to the
very state that has inflicted the injury. The reparations movement puts itself in this
contradictory or impossible position, because reparations are not going to solve the systemic
ongoing production of racial inequality, in material or any other terms. And like inequality,
racial domination and racial abjection are pro duced across generations. In that sense,
reparations seem like a very limited reform: a liberal scheme based upon certain notions of
commensurability that reinscribe the power of the law and of the state to make right a certain
situation, when, clearly, it cannot. I think too that such thinking reveals an idealist trap; it's as
if once Americans know how the wealth of the country was acquired, they'll decide that black
people are owed something. My God! Why would you assume that? Like housing segregation is
an accident! I think that logic of "if they only knew otherwise" is about the disavowal of
political will. Why is the welfare state dis mantled, even though it's actually going to affect more
white women and children than black people? Because it has to do with that political will and
an antipathy to blackness that structures .. .

Imagery
We cannot ignore white imagery as a catalyst for racial discrimination
Dyer, Professor of Film Studies at Kings College, 97
(Richard, Matter of Whiteness, P. 1, ESB)

Racial1 imagery is central to the organisation of the modem world. At what cost regions and
countries export their goods, whose voices are listened to at international gatherings, who
bombs and who is bombed, who gets what jobs, housing, access to health care and education,
what cultural activities are subsidised and sold, in what terms they are validated - these are all
largely inextricable from racial imagery. The myriad minute decisions that constitute the
practices of the world are at every point informed by judgements about peoples capacities and
worth, judgements based on what they look like, where they come from, how they speak, even
what they eat, that is, racial judgements. Race is not the only factor governing these things and
people of goodwill everywhere struggle to overcome the prejudices and barriers of race, but it is
never not a factor, never not in play. And since race in itself - insofar as it is anything in itself -
refers to some intrinsically insignificant geographical/physical differences between people, it is
the imagery of race that Is in play. There has been an enormous amount of analysis of racial
imagery in the past decades, ranging from studies of images of, say, blacks or American Indians
in the media to the deconstruction of the fetish of the racial Other in the texts of colonialism and
post-colonialism. Yet until recently a notable absence from such work has been the study of
images of white people. Indeed, to say that one is interested in race has come to mean that one is
interested in any racial imagery other than that of white people. Yet race is not only attributable
to people who are not white, nor is imagery of non-white people the only racial imagery. This
book is about the racial imagery of white people - not the images of other races in white cultural
production, but the latters imagery' of white people themselves. This is not done merely to fill a
gap in the analytic literature, but because there is something at stake in looking at, or continuing
to ignore, white racial imagery. As long as race is something only applied to non-white peoples,
as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm.
Other people arc- raced, we are just people.

Multiplicity of Whiteness

The Multiplicity and multiculturalism of Whiteness leads to privilege
Dyer, Professor of Film Studies at Kings College, 97 (Richard, Matter of Whiteness, P. 12,13, ESB)
The individuated, multifarious and graded character of white representation does not mean
that white culture has succeeded in imagining in white people the plenitude of human potential
and is only at fault for denying this representational range to non-white people. There is a
specificity to white representation, but it does not reside in a set of stereotypes so much as in
narrative structural positions, rhetorical tropes and habits of perception. The same is true of all
representation - the taxonomic study of stereotypes was only ever an initial step in the study of non-white representation. However,
stereotyping - complex and contradictory though it is (cf. Perkins 1979, Bhabha 1983, Dyer 1993a) - does characterise
the representation of subordinated social groups and is one of the means by which they are
categorised and kept in their place, whereas white people in white culture are given the illusion
of their own infinite variety, oj For a long time, the multiplicity of white representation led me to
fed that any generalisation I made about images of white people could always be countered by
other, various and opposite images of them, that the image of the pure white woman discussed in Chapter 3, for
instance, is easily placed alongside that of the wicked or the merely venial white woman, that the muscleman heroes of Chapter 4
were, if anything, less typical of whiteness than the average white guys of major stars like James Stewart, Harrison Ford or Tom
Hanks. Moreover, going against type is a feature of white representation. At the level of textual form, it is the foundation of both
psychological realism - when we dont get superheroes or obvious stereotypes, we feel were getting the real - and of novelty and
transgression, where the bounds of the typical are exceeded. At the level of social mores, the right not to
conform, to be different and get away with it, is the right of the most privileged groups in society.
However, going against type and not conforming depend upon an implicit norm of whiteness against which to go. It is that norm
which is my concern in this book. Equally, given the variety of whiteness, I have sometimes thought that what I am really writing
about is the whiteness of the English, Anglo-Saxons or North Europeans (and their descendants), that this whiteness would be
unrecognisable to Southern or Eastern Europeans (and their descendants). For much of the past two centuries, North European
whiteness has been hegemonic within a whiteness that has none the less been assumed to include Southern and Eastern European
peoples (albeit sometimes grudgingly within Europe11 and less assuredly without it, in, for instance, the Latin diaspora of the
Americas). It is this overarching hegemonic whiteness which concerns me, one to which Northern Europeans most easily lay claim
but which is not to be conflated with distinctive North European identities.


Film Analysis

The alt is that we must tactically translate the anti-state sentiments of the black
community and use them to reunite said community
Sexton 10 (Jared, People of Color Blindness; published in 1998; p. 46-47)
Though it is not difficult to itemize the atrocities Dorothy suffers, both directly and indirectly,
and to theorize their relations and sources, I suggest that her position and Luanns as well
is not comprehensible by way of the analogical gestures of anticolonialism that animate the
freedom dreams of the prison letters between Dorothy and her imprisoned lover, Ben (Ben
Collins), that close the film. Reading from this angle (a reading that should not necessarily be
avoided) may yield a compelling narrative of oppression, but what the film indexes, even
when the diegesis cannot sustain it, is an ontological condition of gratuitous violence
exterior to the interlarded rationales of the colonial enterprise (including its systems
of patriarchy and class warfare). It is the exteriority of this violence subtending the
various systems of oppression that signals the sine qua non of racial slavery. As
such, the superimposed images of Dorothy, the titular bush mama, and that
distant bush mama of the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA),
whose prominently displayed agitprop portrait raises the specter of national liberation within
the internal colonies of the United States, are held together by dint of an occlusion: The
vulnerability of the postcolonial is open, but not absolute [as is the slaves]:
materially speaking s/he carves out zones of respite by pushing the Settler,
whether back to the European zone or into the sea. This also means that the
postcolonials psychic vulnerability is not absolute one can dream of land lost and land
restored. In this respect, Haile Gerimas Dorothy is not exactly the Bush Mama in the MPLA
poster.67 That is to say, what qualifies the condition of the slave is a suffering that
not only wrecks the coordinates of any humanism but also, for the same reason,
precludes the generation of a proper political demand directed at a definable
object or Social Text 103 Summer 2010 47 objective. What is produced instead is an
abstract political insistence a politics of the (death) drive.68 One can perhaps
forgive Gerima for not enlarging upon this complication while subscribing to more likely frames
of political intelligibility. Indeed, this gesture of strained political identification replicates the
conceptual trouble endemic to his contemporaries in their formulation of Black Power and
eventually Black Liberation, insofar as they were envisioned and articulated as a politics of
third-world solidarity.69 As Wilderson persuasively claims, as an instance of the shift in the
politics of cinematic thought and the cinematic unrest which it catalyzed, Bush Mama is
made possible not so much by the good judgment and artistic genius of Gerima
and his counterparts in the movement of black independent filmmakers (though
these are undeniable factors) as by the activity of radical black political formations and the
urban rebellion of significant segments of black communities across the country: Black folks on
the move.70 The problem is not so much the principled or strategic interest in a
global solidarity but rather the tactical translation of such sentiments into
arrangements of alliance and the guiding assumptions on which the alliance is
based. Wacquant would call this solidarity in the form of an emotive amalgamation rather
than of a reasoned comparison.71 How, then, to think about the position of the unthought in
a world for which (the afterlife of) slavery continues to provide the grounding metaphor of social
misery?