NETWORKS OF COLLABORATION: BLACKNESS, INDIGENEITY, AND COMMUNITIES PURSUING JUSTICE
EDITED BY HOLLY GENOVESE
Though activism and studies surrounding incarceration and policing in Black Communities have been around for decades, Michelle Alexander’s seminal text The New Jim Crow, originally published 13 years ago, helped to spur ongoing conversations about activism, incarceration, and literature that are still ongoing. As Emmanuella Amoh concludes in her review, the accessible language and argument for gradual steps to end the mass incarceration of Black men made The New Jim Crow particularly powerful and important for public consumption. The section begins here as it is both where much of the activist-scholar interest in incarceration and policing originated and because the text itself is meant as a jumping point—an invitation to go deeper, think harder and in public about issues of race and incarceration.
While Alexander introduces as conceptually to the prison industrial complex and the racism inherent in the criminal justice system writ large, formerly incarcerated poet Reginald Betts uses the personal to detail the specifics of incarceration in his poetry collection Felon. Marquez writes in her review that “Memories are splayed across the pages, emotions harnessed and released, there is a raw truth that settles itself in the ink and induces an awe that the reader can only motion toward an understanding of.” Here we get the personal, dark, and raw emotion of a formerly incarcerated poet/activist who plays with form while also challenging normative assumptions about prison, and especially for Betts life after prison.
Shifting gears, Sami Schalk’s Disability Politics focuses on the intersections of disability and justice with an emphasis on the Black Panther Party and their work with disabled people. In doing so, Schalk focuses on the work, primarily done by women, that the Panther’s (who were frequently incarcerated) did for disabled Black people. Schalk concludes her work by discussing the recent movement(s) for Black lives and critiques their lack of inclusion of disabled people. No movement for Black lives, no critique of incarceration or police violence, is complete without a fight for the rights of disabled Black people.
In his review Ortiz writes, “Thus, the book (Translating Blackness) illuminates the liminal, in-between spaces inhabited by Black Latinx diasporic subjects who are both racialized as Black and treated as forever foreign immigrant bodies within the receiving nation.” Just as Schalk expands conversations about justice, Black Lives, and incarceration to Black disabled people, García Peña geographically expands the conversation. Here we also get an exploration of the ways Black people were both colonized and engaged in Colonialism, beginning with an analysis of Frederick Douglass’s work. For García Peña discussions of blackness cannot be simplified, but must contain both the colonized and the colonizers, expanding histories of activism.
Finally, Pujol reviews Kendrick Lamar’s most recent album as a confessional and the “eviscerating the profit-driven music industry that carried him to the top in the first place.” Beyond the critiques of the music industry, Lamar confronts his history of trauma: of sexual violence and domestic abuse, hyper masculine culture, and even the struggles of his Trans family member. While the section begins with Michelle Alexander’s discussion of the cultural scripts and racism that lead to the mass incarceration of Black Men, we finish with Kendrick Lamar’s confessional: a critique of Black masculinity, abuse, and the trauma he carries.