After a year when too many of us have mourned the tragic and untimely losses of loved ones (and raged at our governments for their roles in exacerbating these crises), I found another perspective on grief and change in Muñoz’s depiction of otherwiseness and a fable about a cockroach.
This piece features a multimedia reflection on José Esteban Muñoz’s The Sense of Brown, which emphasizes the text’s radical approach to imagining solidarities and social relations beyond the normative paradigms of identity politics and its permutations. Through both textual poetics and sound design, Wadud and Lázaro Moreno riff off Muñoz’s own performance-based approach to storytelling and meaning-making, engaging Sense as an invitation to reconsider the aesthetic and philosophical terms of community-making, centering the power of counterintuitive methods.
“Still game” is not the discourse of “trauma” and PTSD so often ascribed to populations as a form of diagnostic colonization, pace Frantz Fanon in his tremendous work on medicalization in A Dying Colonialism. “Still game” is yet another temporal form akin to the “perpetual.” In this sense, histories of targeted injuring—maiming—are both histories of violence waiting to be written and projections of future violence of our pandemic worlds.
Even though Asian America is irreducibly diverse, the vast majority of Asian American theological voices are East Asian theological voices, with voices and concerns from Southeast Asian, Filipinx, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Middle Eastern Christians being barely heard or simply dismissed. This raises questions about how helpful “Asian American” is as an identitarian category.
But how could Trump seduce a great majority of the Jesus-believing, Bible-thumping, church-attending evangelical conservative community when his values are so contrary to those of Jesus, the Bible and what the church should stand for?
Simply put, Black men are the most loyal group of male voters for the Democratic candidate for president. Their slightly lower numbers for Hillary Clinton in 2016 rebounded for Joe Biden in 2020. Their loyalty to Democrats in this regard is surpassed only by Black women.
While some white American converts to Pentecostalism in the early 1900s were experiencing a resurgence of Jeffersonian populism of that era, Mexican nationals were living through revolutionary upheaval of their own. And like the older populism of American evangelical lines, the Mexican revolution’s radical populism was also agrarian, influenced by Jacobinism, and hostile to establishment elites.
We see this wholesale adoption of White Evangelical practices in the Latino/a Evangelicals’ increasing support of the White nationalist philosophy which undergirds the White Evangelical theological position. The 2016 presidential election, Trump’s subsequent term in office, and the 2020 presidential election have made this all much more publicly clear.
Using Puar’s line of analysis, we can trace how debilitating trauma can become a tool of the nation-state that creates racialized “mad people”: unruly, distressed, unbecoming, disposable in the eyes of the nation-state, yet necessary in their precarity and correct-ability.
I am struck by the resonance of this notion of asphyxiation, of debilitation as asphyxiation, which makes sense not just to think about debilitated populations in the United States and Palestine/Israel, but also other populations too, in spaces ruled, albeit in different ways, by the logics of neo-liberal capitalism and biopolitical security.
Puar reads Palestine not as a state of exception, but as something considerably more potent. As I read it, Palestine emerges rather as a theater of biopolitical experiment, in which control societies test out, through varying styles of life-halting or -inhibiting violence, the modes of regulation proper to surplus populations.