In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Black New Orleans was represented as a symbol of “disorder” as major network news focused attention on one of the poorest cities in the poorest region in the country—a city where Blacks accounted for 67% of the city before the storm. While mass mediated discourses of security, law and order helped legitimate repressive state responses to the event, New Orleans poet, teacher, singer, and Black grassroots activist Sunni Patterson articulated a “poetic knowledge” of the historical drama of social conflict through her music and poetry. Patterson's cultural productions have served as a compelling counter-discourse to the language and symbolism that inhabit what the article calls neoliberal racial regimes of security. This article explores Patterson's poetics to foreground alternative ways of seeing struggles for a social wage and a new commons that are otherwise obscured through racialized neoliberal security narratives of the event.


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pp. 693-717
Launched on MUSE
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