In response to the recent election, #ADPhD is sharing reflections, short takes, and responses from scholars of slavery. To submit yours, click here.
On November 16, 2016, Christina Sharpe, associate professor at Tufts University, offered this reflection on kinship, slavery, and white solidarity. Sharpe writes:
“We can trace this through the examples of U.S. Senator James Henry Hammond (1807-1864) and U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond (1902-2003) and into the present. Hammond claimed ownership over other people of what he called that “inferior race,” and Thurmond, a Dixiecrat, declared: “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the army cannot force […] the southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.’’ Both were residents of Edgefield, South Carolina and both “fathers” of black women, slave and free, whom they never claimed as kin in the ways that they would claim their white children. The laws of U.S. chattel slavery and Jim Crow made white kinship (legally, familially, and politically). These modes of recognizing white kinship and refusing to recognize black personhood endure into the present; they make and unmake persons and families, and assign human beings value in and of themselves, or not. Thurmond’s declaration encompasses not only black people, but Latinx, Muslim Americans and more. White kin in one direction, “property” in another.
“Whiteness, then, is a political project. It is distinct from, but often acts in concert with, the political projects of making and sustaining nation, ethnicity, and ethnic nationalisms. Whiteness is a political project and it is also a logic, by which I mean it is a calculus, a way of sorting oneself and others into categories of those who must be protected and those who are, or soon will be, expendable…
“White people are searching for ways to show solidarity to people of color and some have landed on the performative symbol of wearing a safety pin. Symbols are important and a safety pin is not enough. A safety pin is a temporary fix for a rent in the fabric. One must be willing to say this is abhorrent. One must be willing to be more than uncomfortable. One must be willing to be on the outside. One must refuse to repair a familial rift on the bodies cast out as not kin.”
Read it all: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/lose-your-kin/
Find other free and public essays, podcasts, videos, and interviews written by and featuring scholars of slavery by exploring the #ADPhD blogroll. https://africandiasporaphd.com/tag/blogroll-2/