Hello everyone, I’m back! With my return, I will be posting at a later time (8:00pm) and for the next couple of weeks, the blog will have a Caribbean afrofuturist focus, especially since I wrote a piece for Africa Is Done Suffering about a need to highlight more of Caribbean experience into diaspora (and in this case, afrofuturist) conversation.
First, here is Nigerian-born, Jamaican-raised scholar and writer, Louis Chude-Sokei, reading about the story of PT Barnum and Joice Heth from The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (Williams was Antiguan, by the way). The reading was at the Plummeting Appliances, Dying Verbs, Enslaved Automatons fiction forum at 601 Artspace in New York City earlier this year. Chude-Sokei reads about PT Barnum and his early show that featured Joice Heth, an elderly slave, and the turk chess machine. He uses the story to discuss the intersections between the use of deception in modern media, othering/objectification/exploitation of race and ethnicity, and the presence of robotics/machinery to question what is human.
The story of PT Barnum is also referenced in Chude-Sokei’s essay in Burntcork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy, called “The Uncanny Histories of Minstrels and Machines, 1835-923.” You can read most of the essay here. Also watch Chude-Sokei’s lecture “When Echoes Return: Roots, Diaspora and Possible Africas (A Eulogy)” analyzing the role of a symbolic Africa in reggae, and his article, “Redifining ‘black.'”