Contrary to the Hegemonic Whiteness of Queer Theory in United States

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Gosset, Che

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Contrary to the hegemonic whiteness of queer theory in United States—an invisibilizing whiteness as queerness that black queer and/or trans scholars essentially staged a fugitive and maroon movement away from in the form of black queer/quare studies—blackness, as always already anti-normative, queers queer theory by being that which eludes it.   Along with indigienty, blackness also forms the ground upon which white settler sexuality is constituted.  In the “queer and now,” I’m thinking about the political stakes and anticipatory haunting/foreshadowed nature of Jose Munoz’s argument that we are not yet queer, especially in reference to the archive(s) of slavery and coloniality. In the words of Saidiya Hartman “how does one rewrite the chronicle of a death foretold and anticipated, as a collective biography of dead subjects, as a counter-history of the human, as the practice of freedom?” (3).

I’m thinking about blackness and queerness somewhat in the sense that Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley alludes to in her essay on re-imaginings of the middle passage, enslavement and black resistance: “Queer not in the sense of a ‘gay’ or same-sex loving identity waiting to be excavated from the ocean floor but as a praxis of resistance. Queer in the sense of marking disruption to the violence of normative order and powerfully so: connecting in ways that commodified flesh was never supposed to” (199). Against the anti-black libidinal and racial capitalist economy of the U.S. enslavement and settler (e)state, Black queer feminism has always been fantastical in its strivings for life in the face of racial-sexual ontological othering (“Racial-Sexual”) and death (social and ontological). As Lucille Clifton inquires: “won't you celebrate with me what i have shaped into a kind of life? i had no model . . . i made it up here on this bridge between starshine and clay, my one hand holding tight my one hand; come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed” (25).  Finally, to channel Hortense Spillers, how can we shift the conversation, turn towards the intramural, towards the recognition that all “black life matters,” not just those deemed worthy of recognition in moments of crisis and exceptionalization, so that we can hopefully move towards radically refashioning the world into one which we can all inhabit?

Works Cited

Clifton, Lucille. The Book of Light. Copper Canyon Press, 2013. Print.

Hartman, Saidiya. "Venus in Two Acts." small axe 12.2 (2008): 1-14. Print.

Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press, 2009. Print.

“Racial-Sexual Ontologies of the Other.” University of California, Berkeley, Center for Race and Gender. Web. http://crg.berkeley.edu/content/racial-sexual-ontologies.

Tinsley, Omise'eke Natasha. "Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer imaginings of the Middle Passage." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 14.2-3 (2008): 191-215. Print.

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This text was an invited submission reviewed by TWI editors prior to publication.

Publication date: 

2015-03

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