In her 2010 music video “Window Seat,” Black singer Erykah Badu claims the space of John F. Kennedy’s iconic presidency by walking the route taken by his motorcade the day of his assassination and stripping naked. Badu and other recent Black female artists perform what this article calls a “politics of replacement,” using visual media to restage historical moments and replace iconic white figures with their Black bodies in a disruptive manner. The politics of replacement in “Window Seat” unsettles official narratives of a linear progress from racism and inequality to post-racism and equality by returning to the visual memory of Kennedy’s assassination that has been folded into a larger narrative of civil rights. Despite the supposedly post-racial nature of US society, governmental and social strictures continue to police the Black female body as sexual, maternal, deviant, and/or queer. Badu’s fine for disorderly conduct by the city of Dallas serves as a concrete example of the ongoing structural limitations placed on African American women. This article understands “Window Seat” as part of an ongoing tradition of Black feminist intellectual work undertaken outside of the academy through cultural production.


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pp. 46-69
Launched on MUSE
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