The Crisis of White Supremacy and its Impact on Black Lives - surveillance, control and suicidality
Hayford, A. 2018. The Crisis of White Supremacy and its Impact on Black Lives - surveillance, control and suicidality.
Taking as its starting point the ongoing social, political, economic and psychic crisis of white supremacy, this paper will explore links between the suicide and suicidality in Black communities existing within the historical and contemporary structures of Anglo-American white supremacy. Particularly focussing on the USA’s linked systems of slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration, there will be a consideration of the destructive impact of the surveillance and control and of Black bodies and Black lives. Cultural ‘touchpoints’ will be utilised to deepen the search for meaning-making and understanding of suicidality within Black communities.
Novels such as The Underground Railroad (Whitehead), Song of Solomon and Sula (Morrison), and Another Country (Baldwin) will be drawn upon to gain some insight into how Black suicide and suicidality can be understood within the periods of slavery and Jim Crow, for example, by discussion of the ‘myth’ of Flying Africans and the concept of revolutionary suicide (described by Huey P. Newton in his 1973 book Revolutionary Suicide, which was written just after the Civil Rights era, and on the eve of mass incarceration).
The Oscar-nominated documentary 13TH (dir. Ava DuVernay) and the heart-breaking death of Sandra Bland will bring the discussion suicide and suicidality into the present era of mass incarceration. Finally, there will be a brief but important exploration of the ethics of studying Black despair and Black pain, especially for researchers who are white (i.e. amongst others, the author of this paper).
|Keywords||Black lives; White supremacy; Novels; Suicide|
|Conference||Suicide, Society and Crisis|
|Web address (URL) of conference proceedings||http://suicidesocietyandcrisis.group.shef.ac.uk/programme/|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||24 Mar 2020|
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