The Dummy Men! Trailing the Afropolitan Nightmare

Discussion

Before the money, there was love

But before the money, it was tough

Then came the money through a plug

It’s a shame it ain’t enough

– Joey Bada$$ ~ Paper Trails

 

In his album earlier this year Joey Bada$$ crafted a refreshingly mature song that spoke towards the catch 22 situation that the concept of money and material capital imposes on black people’s sense of uplift (or as he puts it in an affective mode that consistently relays back to his St. Lucian heritage: the bottom that is the plantation). The conundrum being the material capacity to address the original situation of collective poverty lives in an inverse relation temporally to the immaterial love that emerges in poverty.

This kind of after-the-fact consciousness is at the heart of the politics of a global class now freely identifying as Afropolitan. A politics that has at best left itself open to, and at worst has openly applied neoliberalist frameworks of ‘development’, ‘progress’, and the usual gushing of identitarian analyses of the self. It is hoped that Vitamin D with today’s discussion will add to the already rich dialogue that has developed ( see links below for articles discussed in the pod) from a perspective informed by structural violence as explicated through the discourses of decoloniality and Afropessimism (whether old or new).

This is a polemic from two black individuals. So if this is perceived as an attack on someone who may have identified with this Afropolitan formation then that perception will have merit. Vitamin D would be much more interested in communicating with and to those ‘transnationals’ who would use these resources as an opportunity for ethical reflection and asking questions that should really be posed immediately after that reaching of the point of arrival proverbially refered to as ‘the promised land’. What did this land promise?, Has the promise been fulfilled?, Was this promise what was initially desired?, Could this land even deliver on what it did promise?,  and most importantly, should we now make the same promise to those (left?) behind us?

To return to the (un)expected wisdom of a rapper from Bed-Stuy born barely 20 years ago who is yet intuitive enough to know not to let the necessity of dreaming freedom for the self (‘I gotta get my momma off the scene’) get in the way of discerning just what is gained and lost in that very act (‘cash ruined everything around me’).

When Afropolitans dream, are they also not slumbering? When they slumber, are they not perpetuating the nightmare for others? Here’s to a different trail entirely.

 

Links discussed in the pod :

http://africasacountry.com/why-im-not-an-afropolitan/

http://africainwords.com/2013/02/08/exorcizing-afropolitanism-binyavanga-wainaina-explains-why-i-am-a-pan-africanist-not-an-afropolitan-at-asauk-2012/

https://books.google.be/books?id=rQbiP0M5tCUC&pg=PA26&lpg=PA26&dq=mbembe+afropolitanism&source=bl&ots=QpfYVKNFfj&sig=-keRFQLmeATL3fB3ng9at_R7izQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zYPeUuKnILPdygPrr4DICQ#v=onepage&q=mbembe%20afropolitanism&f=false

The Many Legacies of Stuart Hall: A chat with cultural historian Dr. Daniel McNeil

Discussion

stuart hall homepage

 

This impromptu chat was recorded on the day after Stuart Hall’s passing on Tuesday the 11th of February amidst a flurry of obituaries on the influential and much celebrated postcolonial scholar, media theorist and public intellectual. Daniel and I had planned to catch up on things over the previous weekend and so when the sad news reached us on the Monday of the 10th we were still working through the loss and what Hall had meant in our respective lives; Daniel as a Black British cultural historian who excelled as an academic in the wake of the period marked by Hall’s contributions to the western academic landscape, not least of which was the short-lived Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University directed by Hall from 1968 to1979 serving as an important intellectual guidepost; and I, as a refugee several times removed from any notion of a ‘home’ and for whom the terms transnationalism, diaspora, routes and roots have exceeded their significance as merely descriptive terms of the fugee experience and taken on existential qualities.

So this largely unstructured chat on the many legacies of Hall follows as a meditation on how his words have enabled us as individuals to broaden our ethical and political thinking in a rapidly changing world. I for one have profited immensely from his theoretical interventions to help me make sense of such loaded terms as ‘globalism’, or ‘globalisation’, or the ‘global local’, not to mention his acute critique of the neoliberal logic that would come to inform mainstream politics of the last four decades. Having been introduced to his work under Daniel’s tutelage in his Media and Cultural Studies lectures when he was based at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation in the University of Hull this chat will also roughly cover some of Hall’s intellectual contributions with regards to media’s role in society, anti-racist rhetoric, and the institutionalisation of cultural studies, a subject of study he helped inaugurate in the 19060s.