Black Queer Studies, Freedom, and Other Human Possibilities

  • Rinaldo Walcott


As the terrible legacy of the Middle Passage continues to shape the conditions of black diaspora subjects, the question of death should be central to the analysis of black diaspora cultures. Coming into being in the midst of the death-dealing of transatlantic slavery, New World black being is founded in and through death, as HIV/AIDS and, more largely, black queer studies still prove today. A thought experiment based on the work of diaspora artists, this chapter intends to address this claim and its corollary: Black people die differently. It is my contention that the historical relations that produced black peoples are the same relations that produce their deaths (Woods and Costa Vargas). Such claims mean that thinking blackness requires we pay attention to how and why black people die, when and where we die. Why black people die differently from others? When we consider health care, illness, crime, prisons, poverty, or any of the social markers that make life livable, black peoples’ experiences of those social markers are radically different and thus lead to a different kind of death. For black peoples, death cannot be minimized and, in contemporary culture, it remains an intimate element of black life and living always in view. Radically different from the universal outcome of all human beings’ lives, black death is constantly framing black peoples’ everyday livability—even more acutely for what regards black poor and black queer people.


Black Woman Black People Queer Theory Historical Relation Trans People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Anne Crémieux, Xavier Lemoine, and Jean-Paul Rocchi 2013

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  • Rinaldo Walcott

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