Memorial for Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016

By Wright, Willie Jamaal | Southeastern Geographer, Spring 2017 | Go to article overview

Memorial for Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016


Wright, Willie Jamaal, Southeastern Geographer


In Christina Sharpe's (2016) In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, she speaks of Black people's corporeal capacity as "our always already weaponized Black bodies," a political and ontological threat to whiteness (i.e. humanity and civil society) subject to (and the subject of) violent extinctions (p 16). Over the last four years--undoubtedly America's state-sanctioned and extra-judicial crimes go back much further--the world has born witness to the repurposing of civil society (1) by way of the country's affinity (it is also a rabid necessity) for "manufacturing destitution" among Black communities (Woods, 2005, p 1011). This photo was taken not long after the murder of Alton Sterling, for--like far too many others--merely existing. I happened through Baton Rouge by chance, on my way to visit family in Houston, Texas. While there, I succumbed to the inexorable pull to pay respects to this brother-now-ancestor. In the week prior to my arrival, those in Baton Rouge--supported by allies from without the state of Louisiana--took to the streets in defiance of the militarized state apparatus responsible for his criminalization and death. Local residents also took to honoring his life via a makeshift memorial.

When I arrived at the Triple S Food Mart, I came upon a small cypher steered by a sister who looked to be in her late thirties. She spoke of the recent revelation that many of those arrested in the streets of Baton Rouge were from all throughout the country (Wyatt 2016). What's more, many were white--a fact she was sure enraged the Baton Rouge Police Department. Looking at me, she asked, "Where you from?" When I responded, "Jackson, Mississippi," and that I had come to pay my respects, she nodded, affirmatively. At the storefront, a man and woman sat at an impromptu market stand (2) while visitors milled about. I paid my respects to the deceased by lighting seven small candles, which in the Yoruba spiritual practice of Ifa is done in acknowledgement of one's physical transition and to light the way for the spirit's passage into the next realm. For me, this Diasporic cenotaph illustrates the crux of Black geographies, an example of how Black communities in America continue to create and commemorate what Frank Wilderson, III acknowledges as "tremendous life" in a context of social death (Hartman & Wilderson, III 2003, p 187).

Black geographies (both the analytic and analog) encourage us to look beyond surface level explanations of Black despair. An analysis of this form--if done in a manner true to the experiences and understandings of Black communities--results in more than geographies of race. This is the mark of a researcher's ability to look at the world awry, that is, from an alternative optic. Such a look is what Clyde Woods (1998) spoke to when he cemented--drawing from the literary giant, Richard Wright--the notion of a blues epistemology. (3) The mural, the memorial, the cypher and those who sat on guard indicate a unique Black relation to physical and social space that is always without civil society (Moten 2013). (4) It also speaks to the growing body of work in the critical study of place names. However, this impromptu practice forgoes street name commemoration--an oft-lengthy process fraught with contention, and which requires the approval of municipal governance (Alderman 2015)--for street level signification. Accordingly, this dedicatory collage demonstrates, in the words of the Black artist collective, Otabenga Jones & Associates (OBJ&A), that Black communities, in the face of state sanctioned violence in the form of police brutality, predatory lending, disinvestment and gentrification, have a "right beyond the site," (5) a relation to physical geographies that are beyond our present station and notions of space tied to juridical categories of individual ownership and capitalist notions of value.

As the field of Black geographies continues to grow, (6) on the heads and heels of Katherine McKittrick and the late Clyde Woods, not to mention the (unacknowledged organic intellectuals who came before them, let us not forget--those of us within and drawing from this canon--that we are like sentry. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Memorial for Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.