chapter  9
17 Pages

Defying Death

Black Joy as Resistance Online
ByCatherine Steele, Jessica Lu

Stemming from a desire to raise awareness within and outside of the black community about injustice, the frequency and graphic nature of social media posts featuring black death have become commonplace. Chapman explores the origins of representing blackness as death through a history of the early modern English drama. The connection between blackness and death is likewise explored in Sharpe’s “Black Studies: In the Wake,” where she argues for the need to “defend the dead.” Afro-pessimists argue that emancipation in the United States did not end slavery, insofar as the construction of blackness is predicated upon its connection to inhumanity and death. Contemporary narratives and images of black death cannot be divorced from the legacy of chattel slavery. Oral narratives reflect and refashion themselves to suit the experiences and evolutions of African-American communities, and therefore resist the dominant group’s efforts to fix black life in a position of death and despair.