Before there were the Paris terror attacks that changed everything and the second Democratic presidential debate that changed nothing, much of America had been transfixed by the scene playing out on college campuses across the country: black students and their allies demanding an insulation from racial hostility, full inclusion and administrative responsiveness.
There was a part of the debate around those protests that I have not been able to release other than by writing here, one step off the news, but hopefully in step with the history of this moment.
Last week I heard artist Ebony G. Patterson talking about the black body as a “site of contention,” and that phrase stuck with me, because it seemed to be revelatory in its simplicity, and above all, true.
Black bodies are a battlefield: black folks fight to defend them as external forces fight to destroy them; black folks dare to see the beauty in them as external forces condemn and curse them.
Or worse, most insidiously, black folk try to calibrate their bodies to avoid injury.