It’s possible to argue that the slogan “the personal is political” comes from a particular bourgeois version of personhood. However, if one starts from the moment of enslavement, then there is no personal and, indeed, no person, for the thingification of slavery takes away “the personal.” Things are not persons. But it is through the histories of slavery that the personal becomes political, as the quest for personhood requires disclosure, nakedness, revelation, confession. Slave narratives tell one horror after another: a beating, a rape, a mutilation, a catalogue of family separations, of things being disaggregated, of units collapsing and being re-joined. Of black male slaves used as studs to impregnate black women slaves.
How can language not collapse when things are gendered and compelled to reproduce themselves? (Thinking on “things” in philosophy, aesthetics, and political science fails to reckon with fungibility; the “unimaginable” “thingness” of those once human.)
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