“Trap Spaces, Trap Music: Harriet Jacobs, Fetty Wap, and Emancipation as Entrapment,” The Popular Culture Studies Journal and Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, September 2020.
These twin notions of “trap”—incomplete self-possession on the one hand and the survival imperative to commit “crime” on the other—converge in the outlaw drug economy and its social relations that “Trap Queen” and the genre of trap music at large portray. Moreover, the massive popularity of “Trap Queen”—viewed 592,863,832 times and counting—illustrates the slippery political work of dominant forms of representation in managing both imaginaries and mainstream common sense.
“Refusing the Settler-Colonial Gaze,” Social Text, March 8, 2015.
The global politics of resource scarcity is a chief theme of World of Matter’s practice, but another scarcity is evident too: a scarcity of representations by Indigenous and subaltern people, whose resources have been most exploited, first by colonialism and the dispossession of their land, then by the neocolonialism of the global economy as it was reconfigured after World War II.
“Stay Remote and Save Black Lives,” a “white paper” independently published, August 28/June 14, 2020.
My own research and teaching endeavors to expose the manifold harms that liberal-democratic structures organize for BIPOC peoples at various scales. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates these harms, as calls to reopen society invariably sideline the needs of the people who are most vulnerable to infection and most vulnerable to state violence. Concurrently, as calls to defund the police and further the abolition of prison have proliferated, more and more people are reckoning with the costs of liberalism—costs that are measured in “safety” for white people and mortality for BIPOC peoples.
“Settler Marxism and the Murdered and Missing Revolutionary Actors,” GC Advocate, summer 2018.
Feminicide, as Bolaño suggests in 2666, is a potent way of seeing relations of labor, violence, and power, especially across the three settler states of North America, the vaunted “new world” of European empire. Moreover, following the comparison to labor striking, feminicide is a key lens through which to think the refusal to work differently, and with a greater potential for revolutionary change. By broadening the target from the wage relation to all relations of exploitation, first and foremost those structured by gender and race, which ramify the brutalities of capitalism, the world to come will have a better chance at freedom from all hierarchy and coercion.
“Dirty Tricks: The GC Chapter Election,” CUNY Academic Commons, April 4, 2017.
Elections are a narrow form of political participation. While they may produce a changing same, they seldom produce transformative change. Political education, however, can at least change people’s perspectives, as I’ve seen powerfully in my own life. It’s why I’m invested in research, analysis, study, and teaching, despite the innumerable problems of the academic-industrial complex.
“Elaborating the South African State-Media-NGO Nexus on Crime: Scraps from the Archive,” CUNY Academic Commons, September 2, 2016.
I started researching CSVR’s collection of 100+ boxes at Wits Historical Papers because of my abiding interest in violence and its contested meanings and contexts—and given that CSVR has been in existence throughout the (ongoing) transition from apartheid to post-apartheid, I knew its archive would offer a useful case study for how interpretations of violence and related structures of policing, prisons, and criminal justice at large (or the prison-industrial complex at large) may have changed—or not—over time.
“Death of the Die-In (and PSC ‘Civil Disobedience,’ Too),” CUNY Struggle, March 29, 2016.
Taking the PSC die-in on its own terms, though, what does it mean to personify an institution and mourn its “death,” backed by the not-insignificant resources of the union, instead of centering and supporting with those resources the people of the institution who are subject to, in CUNY professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s formulation of structural racism, “the state-sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death” (Golden Gulag 28)?
“Prisoners for Profit: CUNY Prison Divest and the Carceral State” (co-author with Ashley Agbasoga, Melissa Marturano, and Christina Nadler), GC Advocate, spring 2015.
We hope this interview can raise awareness about CUNY’s investments in private prisons, mobilize our community to protest these investments with CUNY Prison Divest, and enable us to think more critically about the need for the abolition of all prisons. Prisons and the prison system (known as the prison-industrial complex because of its extensive links to capital) tear apart, terrorize, and incapacitate communities that are composed predominantly of poor people of color.
“Teaching Against Stop-and-Frisk and Racial Profiling,” CUNY Academic Commons, July 24, 2014.
I knew that many, if not all, of my students would be affected by stop-and-frisk, whether the young men targeted or their family members and friends. I also knew they would have experienced racial profiling in its other forms, whether the school-to-prison pipelinein operation at New York City public schools, the general entrapment of the prison-industrial complex and its attendant political economy, or the surveillance of department-store staff and their collusion with police (as experienced by a CUNY student that fall in a high-profile incident).
“Funding Celebrity Profs: Paul Krugman and the Prestige Economy of Public Higher Ed” (p. 28-29), GC Advocate, spring 2014.
The terms of Krugman’s hire represent a fundamental contradiction in the hegemony of the “lack of money” that rules the practices and discussions of public higher education. Indeed, there is always money to be had, at CUNY as elsewhere, whether it’s to hire a celebrity professor to add value by virtue of his or her name, or to build a $350-million “world-class” science center, as CUNY is doing at City College. Note that Krugman is also “world class.” CUNY is desperate for world-class status, even if it means running its students, faculty, and staff into the ground.
Past Journalism (Selected)
“Towards a More Responsive Philanthropy: Grantmaking for Racial Equity & LGBTQ Justice,” a special report for Funders for LGBTQ Issues, August 23, 2012.
“Gaining Visibility: The Challenges Facing Transgender Elders,” a feature story in support of a federal and state policy campaign by SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders, May 2012.
“The Economic Downturn and LGBTQ Grantmaking: A Look Towards 2012,” a special report for Funders for LGBTQ Issues, April 10, 2010.
“The Ballad of Uptown Gerry, City Chicken,” about a special bird rescued by literati, New York, March 3, 2010.
“Eulogy for a Doomed Vaccine,” a first-person account of participating in a global HIV-vaccine trial, The Advocate, January 14, 2008.
“Underground Musician,” on the first New York City subway performer to be signed to a major label, New York, May 1, 2006.
“Identity Crisis,” on New York City therapist reactions to a new state licensing requirement (“How do you drive a shrink crazy?”), New York, December 26, 2005.