When there is no perceptible logic, or available framework for understanding the existence of a phenomenon, the imagination takes over, and with it a litany of possible explanations. There are few perfectly logical explanations available to support the survivability of Black life-worlds. Enter, the imagination! The loose translation for the wielding of the imaginary onto a phenomena that is out of the tangible reach of comprehension is magic. I would argue that it is easier to believe that Black bodies are magical than it is to see, acknowledge, or honor their humanity. (1) It is why culturally we can celebrate Black Panther--the Marvel magical fantasy--and condemn Black Panthers--the materialist vanguard of revolution. (2) The Black body, however, while a miracle and every form of genius, is not magic, much to the chagrin of rational logic.
Baldwin supports this notion as it pertains to Black expression, writing "the black man has functioned in the white man's world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations." (3) The expectation communicated here is that Black bodies make peace with the limits of the white imagination. Whiteness, as a result, is the fundamental organizing principle that structures Western society, and imperialism globally, grounded in the need to explain and define the boundaries of existence. (4) For the Black body, this has meant stay in your place or be put in your place. Baldwin's metaphor of a star--an extraordinary incantation of great power, pull, and mystery--is a useful illustration here because Black bodies have always been as fascinating as they are overwhelming in the white imagination and thus a thing that can and should be controlled. (5) History owns a long record of terrors against the Black body in an effort to remind Black life-worlds of their fixed positions--Black people feel less pain, or no pain at all; Black people receive less medical treatment, or worst, are treated more harshly; enforced sterilizations of Black women; mass incarceration--a concept the Christina Sharpe calls the wake (6)
In articulating the wake, Sharpe (7) describes it as "the history and present terror, from slavery to the present, as the grounds of everyday Black existence; living the historically and geographically dis/continuous but always present and endlessly reinvigorated brutality in, and on, our bodies" (8)
Black Panther addresses the Black...