Monday, July 24, 2006

Slaves Makin' Slaves?: A ?uestlove Mixtape

Das Kapital, Karl Marx, 1867
"Governmentality", Michel Foucault, 1978
"Do you want more?" The Roots 1995
The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective,
Antonio Benitez-Rojo, 1996
Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty,
Dorothy Roberts, 1997
Making Men: Gender, Literary Authority and Women's Writing in
Caribbean Narrative, Belinda Edmonds, 1999
"Diaspora and the Passable Word", in The Practice of Diaspora, Brent
Edwards, 2003
"The Resistance of the Object: Aunt Hester's Scream" in In the Break,
Fred Moten, 2003
Oxford English Dictionary Entries: "diaspora", "disperse",
"immigrate", "produce", "production", "reproduce", "reproduction",
"terror", "trauma".

(read the archives of or see,,1689791,00.html?src=search&artist=%3Fuestlove
if by the end of the post the title still perplexes you)

I've been wanting to explain diaspora through an impossible sonic
planetary art installation. Here's how it goes. The next person who
tries to compare diasporas (like Jewish, Black, Caribbean,
Argentinian, Laotian) or equates diaspora with privileged migration or
(god-forbid) vacation becomes the sculpture. This person immediately
leaves whatever building we are in and stands in a public place
screaming. This person continues screaming until they drop dead
(while being fed through an IV to prolong this process). Just keeps
screaming. Can never stop screaming. And even then 1% of the rage,
pain and loss that characterizes what I mean when I say diaspora has
not been expressed. I assign this to the next contestant to save
myself from having live that scream myself.

Let's see if it works.

So last time (always) I was talking about the relationship between reproduction, oppression and the appropriation of the means of reproduction (like the photocopier.) Which makes sense...since I am obsessed with paper and ink, BUT even then I was compelled to refer to Meshell's "Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape" so...given the presence of Moten and the advent of CD's called mixtapes at around the median publication date of the texts above...let's talk about this in terms of sound.

A remark: There are black people all over the world. If I don't hear them screaming it is only because I am blinded with the brilliance of their skin as it resists the marking of capitalism.

What is the relationship between reproduction, capital, race, diaspora and freedom? According to Marx capital reproduces itself through labor power, reproduces the capitalist character of the relations by reproducing the worker as a wage-earner. I think there is a silenced black woman somewhere in that statement saying what about what I make (enslaved, at home, on welfare NOT EARNING WAGES)? What about what I make? Babies marked and crossed out because with my race it's said I pass on its natural and like I own it somewhere. What about what I make? The scream I take with stolen air naming this world that spins itself around the truth that I can be all can be raped...again and again and again.

The Roots always always include a hidden track on their records. In 1995 it was a sonic performance piece featuring Philadelphia spoken word poet Ursula Rucker called the "Unlocking". Some hip hop heads decide to gang-rape some girl. Some girl decides that this is not happening again. Some girl kills everyone with the stregnth of her words and the sound of her gun. There is a silenced black woman somewhere in here.

So why is it that Fred Moten, brilliantly explicating and riffing on the invaginated, screaming, gendered, impossible maternal moment that is the source of black radical performance that sceams value before/against exchange, does not ever say RAPE? Why is it that Antonio Benitez-Rojo claims that his is a non-sexist argument and then feminizes the Caribbean as a womb, inseminated by blood that gives and gives and gives and repeats and repeats and repeats into somesweet/nasty/gushy stuff that he finds "between the gnarled legs" of some old black women in Cuba and does not say...RAPE? Why is it that
even Belinda Edmonds, intent on not reproducing the feminized Caribbean landscape (but calling African-Americana, the Anglophone Caribbean and Africa "nations" quite easily) can talk about a "willing white woman" who is gang-raped, and a non-speaking black servant who can only be raped without pausing to tell us what do you mean by RAPE?
Belinda why when you introduce an original (and usually quite brilliant) idea do you say "I submit ________". What can your
submission mean here? Even Brent Edwatds cannot save us now. This is not a failure of translation. None of these are passable words for what is going on and on. The gulf that I am speaking across is shaped by repression, is the censored public secret that my body can be owned and used by someone else at any time. There is a silenced black woman
somewhere in here.

Listen. Diaspora is the STATE of RAPE. What is it about this violent, recurring, theft of livelihood, expropriation of land, walking on black women's bodies, over the possibility that we will create, that is silent even when present? Stand there. Keep screaming. Keep screaming. The character of capitalism witnessed and ignored again and again is rape. The experience of diaspora is the violent dispersal that scatters subjectivity, that disappears the subject; it is the trauma of rape. So how is the terror that is this global state contained?

Foucault says that governmentality is the mentality that has us think that the only thing to debate is how the government governs, deflecting any impulse to question the state (of things) itself. Therefore we are reproducing the state of rape by refusing to acknowledge it as such, as unnacceptable as a human relation. Can anyone hear this? Our dominant mode of relation on this planet is rape! Why should we be trying to understand this? As Edmonds points out even Lamming has accepted this violence (rape as such) as some precondition for decolonization. So what about what I make?

Talk to me. What can I say, what can I make that destroys the logic of the machine...that does not reproduce a relation that I cannot afford...a relation that we all silently survive?

How you sound? Will there ever be a sound structure on which this girl can stand? Let me know that you are listening...

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