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What constitutes “evidence?” In exploring how queer studies may be equipped to respond to Ferguson and beyond, especially in light of the verdict to not indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, I want to leave the realm of the legal-juridical, knowing this system has a historic and continuing role in defining, facilitating, and perpetuating the lived realities of racism. I wish to conceive of other modes of evidence as prompted by the genealogy of speculative thought and utopian aspirations of queer theoretical scholarship. To do so, I revisit three trailblazers of (queer) critical race critique before I make a “sideways reading,” to riff on Siobhan Somerville’s tactic for unsettling the too-often segregated discussions of homophobia, sexism, and racism,1 to make a geographical move from Ferguson, Missouri, to Columbia, South Carolina, where I witnessed three separate but interlocking events in the lead-up to the decision on Michael Brown’s murder that demand to be counted as proof. In moving sideways across race, gender, and sexuality, and regionally from the Midwest to the South, I intend to continue the work of dislodging sexuality as the only privileged site of queer inquiry and to cast the events that unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, and Columbia, South Carolina, as synchronic, pertinent, and interconnected.

In 1991 Julie Dash’s avant-garde film Daughters of the Dust introduced the “speculative fiction” of South Carolina as the turn-of-the century setting for queer Gullah counter-communities. For Dash, “speculative fiction” describes a narrative mode with the capacity to promote deeper, more complex, and yet truer understandings of black queer populations and their precarious position in North American cultures.2 I want to return to Dash’s term, to nod at the historic [End Page 193] and continuing erasure of black queer centrality to the civil rights movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (Bayard Rustin, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and countless others) but primarily to mine “speculative fictions” capable of leading us to a truer appreciation of the complexity of blackness to the law and in particular, as this short forum invites, the queerness of blackness in Ferguson and beyond.3

In the same year that Kimberlé Crenshaw published her germinal article, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,”4 Patricia Williams published her masterpiece The Alchemy of Race and Rights and forged an approach to critical legal studies that mobilized the critique of so-called “color-blindness” not only in the legal sphere but also in the field of critical legal studies.5 In Alchemy, Williams combines critique with a reconceptualization of liberalism to challenge the perceived potential and limitation of how, whether, and if rights viewed and conceived through a liberal model can ever truly serve as the vehicle for social justice. In so doing, she forged a new genre of writing—a queer form, much in line with Dash’s “speculative fiction”—delivered from her breakfast table in her bathrobe and slippers and necessarily composed of, like Barbara Smith said of the history of African American gay and lesbian lives, “fragments, in scattered documents, in fiction, poetry, and blues lyrics; in hearsay, in innuendo.”6 Like the normalized ways in which histories are written, archived, and displayed by white privilege masquerading as color blind, Williams’s book manifested the need for new forms, methods, and presentations to illuminate the negative racial scripts that are and continue to be taken for granted in legal theories and institutions, critical or otherwise. But if murder, of the spirit and of the body, is her major thematic concern, a more utopian vision of rights is her major remedy.

With utopia in mind, I turn to José Esteban Muñoz’s utopian hermeneutics as described in his article “Ephemera as Evidence” and his final book, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.7 Like Dash and Williams, Muñoz also refuses a too-easy objectivity as a mode for adjudicating what counts as proof, and I want to extend this critique to the positivist nature of forensic science.8 Although scientifically obtained images and data are too often burdened with the proof of not demonstrating but constructing “reality,” Muñoz proposed ephemera as a modality: “linked to alternate modes of textuality and narrativity like memory and performance: it is all of those things that remain after a performance, a kind of evidence of what has transpired but certainly not the thing itself. It does not rest on epistemological foundations but is instead interested in following traces, glimmers, residues, and specks of things.”9 [End Page 194]

To hear echoes of Smith’s “fragments” and “innuendo” and Dash’s “speculative fiction” in Muñoz’s words is to sense the always already intimate relationship between critical race scholarship and queer theory on topics as diverse as history making, knowledge production, and critiques of institutional apparatuses such as the carceral state. And although Muñoz’s work, like mine, often aims to show how queerness—as an aspirational not yet here—is aesthetically performed to reveal the potential for collective action in the future, Muñoz’s desire for ephemera (as a rigorous mode of minoritarian history making) and utopia (as a heuristic for reanimating ephemera to remember the past as well as engage the future) can also be employed in the promotion of shared activist sites of feeling “a type of affective excess that presents the enabling force of a forward-dawning futurity.”10

I draw inspiration from these authors as I present the following three vignettes as an antagonistic and alternative transcript that demands that these instances be counted as evidence beyond any reasonable doubt. This countertranscript composed of armed police violence, censorship, and surveillance aims to perform a disqualification of the transcript condescendingly delivered by Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, in which he attempted to silence the Ferguson community’s narrative of police brutality.

Fragment 1: “Why did you shoot me?”

Toward the end of 2014, prominent South Carolina officials began to make claims about its exemplary status as a state that indicts cops who kill. On the same day that the prosecutor delivered the decision that a jury in New York declined to indict four white police officers who used or witnessed the use of a choke hold that led to the death of the unarmed Eric Garner, and just over a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, returned a no-indictment decision against Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown, a grand jury indicted ex-police chief Richard Combs in the 2011 fatal shooting of Bernard Bailey, an unarmed black man.11 Combs was the third white officer in South Carolina to be charged in 2013 for an on-duty shooting involving an unarmed black man in a case that took three years to resolve.12

“We don’t know what brand of justice they served in Ferguson. We don’t know what brand of justice they’re serving in New York City,” Carl Grant, attorney for the Bailey family, said. “But here in South Carolina, we believe in the jury system and we believe in what the grand jury has brought us.”13

Combs’s attorney, John O’Leary, told the Associated Press that “race” was unfairly injected into the case to take advantage of events occurring in Ferguson [End Page 195] and New York,14 but so did many community members of the 300-person town of Eutawville, South Carolina, including Wanda Green of Tru-Life Gospel, who argued that the shooting had nothing to do with skin color. When asked about the interconnection between the killing of her husband and events unfolding on the national stage, even Bailey’s wife, Doris Bailey, explained “that is comparing oranges and apples.”15

How soon was forgotten Levar Jones, an unarmed black man shot six times in the leg by South Carolina state trooper Sean Groubert after he had pulled Jones over for a seatbelt violation by a gas station in Columbia, South Carolina, in September 2014. If “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” became the rallying cry after Michael Brown’s murder, and “I can’t breathe” became the statement emerging after the decision in the Garner case, a pained “Why did you shoot me?” might be the rallying cry that never was after Groubert’s assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Caught on tape by the dash-cam in Groubert’s car, the video shows him pulling up behind Jones’s white pick-up truck at the gas station to ask Jones almost cheerfully, “[c]an I see your license and registration please?” to which Jones silently complies. As he reaches into the car you can hear Groubert start to scream “Get out of the car! Get out of the car!” at the same time that he starts to shoot Jones, who only after having been shot several times is able to raise his hands above his head before he falls to the ground as Groubert keeps shooting, screaming: “Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” In shock, and not yet feeling the pain of his wounds, you hear Jones plead:

“I just got my license. You said get my license. I got my license, right here, that’s my license.”

You then hear the sound of the handcuffs sling open as Groubert runs over to Jones as he repeatedly says, “Put your hands behind your back.”

“What did I do, sir?” Jones asks.

“Are you hit?” Groubert responds with a question.

“I think so,” Jones answers with remarkable calm. “I can’t feel my leg. I don’t know what happened. I just grabbed my license.”

Groubert calls for back up as Jones asks, between expressions of the oncoming acute pain, “Why did you shoot me?”

This is the question with all its ugly and hard-to-hear truths that we need to ask about racial justice in twenty-first century United States. Although Groubert was fired from the Highway Patrol after the shooting incident, and now faces up to twenty years in prison if convicted, the Jones case, a unique one in that the victim survived his attacker’s violent assault, offers several lessons on the politics of what counts as evidence. [End Page 196]

Although this video was admissible evidence in the South Carolina court, Groubert’s account, depicted later on the same video, radically diverged from the tape. As Sheena Howard has pointed out in her meticulous reading of the Darren Wilson court transcript,16 Groubert, like Wilson, depicted Jones’s banal actions of getting out of his pick-up, his acknowledgement of the officer through eye contact, and his compliance in getting the documentation that Groubert requested as something almost supernaturally aggressive and intimidating: “Before I could even get out of my car,” Groubert claimed, “he jumped out, stared at me, and as I jumped out of my car and identified myself, as I approached him, he jumped head-first back into his car … he jumped out of the car. I saw something black in his hands.”17

As previously noted, Groubert was fired, but it is unclear whether he will be charged. In October 2014, the solicitor requested that 270 days—the longest time possible—be allotted to reach a conclusion in the case. The video may not even prove sufficient evidence to charge him, just as a video was deemed insufficient to adjudicate the causes of Eric Garner’s death or the killing of John Crawford III when a Wal-Mart surveillance video did not stand up to the “burden of proof” required to indict the officers who murdered a man for holding a BB gun that the Fairfield, Ohio Wal-Mart stocks and sells in its store. Many reasonably question, especially in the wake of the New York decision, the efficacy of body and car cameras when they are so often deemed insufficient proof of murder in these cases.

But perhaps more telling than any video is what happened to Levar Jones after he was taken from the scene in which he was wrongfully shot. The police transported Jones to the Palmetto Health Richland Hospital in handcuffs. He remained handcuffed until midnight even after the State Law Enforcement Division cleared him of any felony crime. Although he suffered from a serious injury, a gunshot wound to the hip, he was told, “to take Tylenol and go home.”18 In a state where the Confederate flag still flies in front of the State House and the KKK still holds summer jamborees to recruit the next generation of racists, to self-righteously extol the merits of the South Carolina justice and police institutions for doing the “right thing” for Jones and countless others who have been shot, injured, or killed is to miss so much more than the point of the debates regarding the Ferguson and New York cases. For the real burden of proof, we need not only to hear but believe Jones’s story of discriminatory treatment at Palmetto Health, and all the other stories of macro- and micro-aggressions that happen every minute of every day to bodies read as black.

State House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said the hospital failed to administer adequate care after Jones was shot by a state trooper. He said Jones [End Page 197] was treated “like a black man who’d been shot by police.”19 The fact that this statement can exist on its own, and circulate throughout local and national news and be understood without further elaboration is where we need to start.

Fragment 2: Cocking Crow

Columbia, South Carolina, multidisciplinary artist Michaela Pilar Brown weaves myth, memory, and dreams to queer stories about the black female body. Often putting her own body on the line to create a counternarrative of history in the deep south, she blends intersectionality, surrealism, and magic realism in visual and performance art to “use racially identified signifiers to twist and turn mythologies about the body and the spaces that it occupies.”20

I first met Brown at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, where she performed bittersweet bittersalt, a durational piece where she displays her naked, tethered body for audience inspection and manipulation via the common objects laid out on a small table outside the fire-red circus tent in which she sits and waits. A sideshow barker, a twenty-first century mimicry of the nineteenth-century freak show personae, helps choreograph the scene by encouraging the participation of the forty-to-fifty local art aficionados who were present and comprise Columbia’s small but supportive arts community. Following the thirty-or-so-minute performance, the talk-back, which I facilitated alongside colleagues from Clemson University and the University of South Carolina (USC), became an opportunity for collective reckoning: people cried, expressed their angst about seeing their friend and family member’s body on display in such a register, and were honest, at times brutally, about the differences or similarities between what they thought and what they did to Brown’s body during the performance.

Perhaps it goes without saying that Michaela Pilar Brown takes risks. In a town where so often risks are not taken for fear of retribution from the government, from one’s boss, from one’s circle of friends, or church, Brown’s work stands out. Thus it was no surprise when the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County invited Brown, along with artists Leo Twiggs and Tonya Gregg, to participate in a yearlong three-person show “Body & Soul.” The exhibition statement on the Kershaw website says that it presents, “three African-American artists from South Carolina who in their own ways through representational and figurative art deal with race, gender, politics, body politics, sexuality, society, consumerism, history and other issues.”21 Twiggs is known for his haunting images of tattered and sometimes bloodstained Confederate flags or faceless men with bulls-eyes. Whereas Twiggs appropriates symbols of white supremacy in his art and conceptually [End Page 198] alters them, painter Tonya Gregg uses the canvas as a space to explore paradoxical issues about African-American life in the United States. For example, her Aunt Jemima series undertakes the liberation of an image that has been a source of pain. All three artists push back against romanticized, white-washed archives of Southern heritage to create “speculative fictions” of African-American life in the South through the memories and scattered fragments of unrecorded African-American truths.

To gather these three artists into one show was a radical move for South Carolina where country landscapes, chicken paintings (in homage to the university’s sports team, the Gamecocks), and unironic depictions of the state and the confederate flag dominate the terrain of visual culture from fine art to home décor to beach sandals and bumper stickers. And yet, prior to the opening reception of a show meant to honor the artists who were invited to participate, two paintings—Brown’s Cocking Crow and Greggs’s Shook—were removed from display “due to pressure from board members and supporters.”22 Greggs’s Shook visualizes the precarity of black childhood and depicts an African-American toddler playing with hand grenades, a metaphoric placeholder for where building blocks should be. In Cocking Crow, Brown’s nude and vaudeville-decorated body is given crow’s legs and positioned against a dreary background with a farm, her family’s Fairfield County cotton farm, in the distance. Brown chose to depict her body in this way to make a visual connection to Jim Crow segregation laws and the racial epithet of African-Americans as crows, and to nod at the vaudeville artistry of early twentieth-century African-American performer Bert Williams, whose rooster personae for the Ziegfeld Follies became widely known as a visual reference for Jim Crow (Figure 1).

Fine Arts Center Director Kristin Cobb exacerbated the censorship by projecting the concerns of a few rich donors and board members to make blanket statements to the press about an imaginary patron base that is not capable, ready, or willing to view these works. Although the local press matter-of-factly stated “Cobb said if the artists found this unacceptable, she could remove the show. Instead, all parties agreed to remove the paintings,”23 the ultimatum to Brown and Greggs—remove these works or else—was clear.

In the case of Michaela Pilar Brown, the portrayal of her own body in these images ups the ante. In her art, Brown performs what Rebecca Schneider has called “binary terror,” an aesthetic tactic whereby an artist uses her body to make apparent the link between ways of seeing “woman” as a raced, classed, and gendered subject and the ways of structuring desire according to the logic of commodity capitalism.24 Cocking Crow, Brown explained, “is about gender and race, on this Southern landscape with this particular history … what’s whis-pered [End Page 199] and not spoken out loud, is what happens to black bodies in the American culture—how they’re perceived, how they’re interpreted, and what kind of opposition they face.”25

Figure 1. Cocking Crow by Michaela Pilar Brown (American b. 1970), 2009/2014, acrylic on canvas, 64 x 76 in.<br/><br/>Painting photographed by Michael Dantzler.
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Figure 1.

Cocking Crow by Michaela Pilar Brown (American b. 1970), 2009/2014, acrylic on canvas, 64 x 76 in.

Painting photographed by Michael Dantzler.

Brown was told by Cobb that her painting was being removed not because of nudity, but because the painting was “wholly unacceptable” with no further explanation.26 Although nudity was counted out as the cause of the painting’s removal, the only news account to cover the story maintained a persistent fascination throughout the article with Brown’s naked body thereby eclipsing the artist’s own words and the stated purpose of the exhibition to explore race, gender, sexuality, and regionality.

What is wholly unacceptable about Cocking Crow? Brown dared to depict her painterly persona as looking back with the oppositional gaze that bell hooks wrote about in her germinal article on black female spectatorship through an intersectional “politics of articulation” that Evelyn Hammonds demanded in [End Page 200] order to historicize, contextualize, and render visible diverse depictions of black female sexuality.27 What was wholly unacceptable about Counting Crow was its mixed message: on the one hand, and in line with the counternarrative that Hammonds calls for, Brown articulated “a conception of racialized sexuality” that challenged various power relations specific to the location in which Brown lives, works, and breathes. When the Kershaw censored Brown’s work for unspoken reasons, they attempted to put her back “in her place” by empowering the faceless and ubiquitous specter of white phallic supremacy that Twiggs alludes to in his aforementioned works.

“When average people participate in racist acts,” Sharron Holland explains in The Erotic Life of Racism, “they demonstrate a profound misreading of the subjects they encounter.”28 It is these ordinary, everyday racist acts that define and shape what race means. Holland’s book offers an explanation for why the Kershaw Gallery could first invite to honor and then censor to censure so soon after: the Gallery wanted to forge and financially benefit from an intimate connection with artists who represent what another infamous purveyor of unremarkable racist acts in South Carolina, USC Upstate Chancellor Tom Moore, calls “different.” The Kershaw wanted a show with three known African-American Southern artists because blackness bears the ultimate burden of proof of difference and of race itself. In bringing those artists near, however, they found the closeness too intimate, and therefore ended up reproducing the very racism they may have nominally wanted to counter with and through the cliché trope of targeting black women and their sexuality.

Fragment 3: Ghosts of the Horseshoe

A week after the performance, affectionately named after the mobile interactive application that renders the hidden history of slave labor that built the USC campus iPad accessible, I got a call from a powerful colleague in my department. Earlier that day, a call was received—from whom they could not/would not tell me—to complain about my students’ performance. The caller claimed we had written on buildings (we did not, except for a smokestack next to an extant slaves’ quarters now used for storage behind the president’s house) and that I would be fined if I did it again. What “it” constituted was not specified. What was clear was that I was being watched and threatened for daring to encourage pedagogy where students could publicly disrupt the silence on racism, race relations, and the legacy of slavery on the Columbia-located campus.

Ghosts of the Horseshoe, the new media app, received the support of the College [End Page 201] of Arts and Sciences and a $100,000 ASPIRE II grant from the university.29 Ghosts of the Horseshoe, the live action performance where students put their bodies on the line in real time to engage—face-to-face—the campus community, rallied one campus police officer and two sergeants, an entire maintenance crew to remove what was called “vandalism” and “racial slurs,” and threats from nameless people whose shrouded selves bring to mind the powerful, faceless figures in Twiggs’s paintings.

As part of an upper-division seminar cross-listed with English, speech, women’s and gender studies, theater, and Latin American studies, “Performance of the Americas” required that the thirteen students enrolled in the course create and enact five collective performances at locations of their choosing on and around the USC campus inspired by reading about the histories and practices of social movements and performance artists throughout the Americas. Weekly themes ranged from “race and space,” to “border moves,” to “serious play,” and “territory and land rights/rites.” The performance in question was loosely gathered under the title “performance remains” and students read about the visual art of Ana Mendieta, the performative protest tactics of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, and the performance art of Regina José Galindo before participating in an ongoing series of workshops inspired by La Pocha Nostra and Boalian Invisible Theater methods. Charged with the syllabus requirement that the performance “put heightened emphasis on (il)legibility, (in)visibility, and traces,” and inspired as well by the ongoing protests in Ferguson following Michael Brown’s murder and during the month leading up to the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for that murder, students also wanted to have a local impact—to talk about race and race relations and the hidden histories that too often go unspoken, unnoticed, and undocumented.

During the workshop, one of my students shared with our course collective a story that her roommate had told her about the brick wall that surrounds the oldest and original campus grounds known as the Horseshoe. Her roommate said that if you looked closely at certain parts of that wall, you could see the thumbprints of the unnamed slaves who built it, who laid the bricks on the walkways, and who helped to create the architectural landscape that became USC. Tonally, the collective wanted to convey reverence and solemnity so the group chose to dress all in black and to silently enter the Horseshoe holding hands in groups of three and four until they arrived to the central statue where they would gather in a circle to sing spirituals:

Wade in the water.Wade in the water, children.Wade in the water. [End Page 202] God’s a-going trouble the water.


Swing low, sweet chariotComing for to carry me homeSwing low, sweet chariotComing for to carry me home

Each student then picked up a few pieces of chalk and, moving about the Horseshoe, used that chalk to make legible and visible the invisibilized slave labor that went into creating the terrain we traverse every day. They wrote:

USC=slave builtI owned the hands that built this.Built by an unnamed slave.Whose hands built this?

After the performance, the students returned silently to the classroom to pick up their things and debrief with me, as we always do after a performance. I was running late, at first for good reason. This had been our third performance and my students consistently wanted more of an audience, so I invited a small group of people who had witnessed the performance and who wanted to discuss it with me and the videographer, doctoral student Brian Harmon, who was taping the performance for his dissertation, which focuses on critical pedagogy.

Then the cops came.

The cops were called on the scene, Officer Matthew told me, by someone—he could not/would not tell me who called or how many calls they had received—who had complained that rendering visible the slave labor that went into constructing the campus constituted a racial slur and vandalism. With Brian still filming, I spoke with the officer about the performance, what we were trying to accomplish and why, and how the police presence confirmed the obstacles to discussing issues of racism on campus.

The chalk was apparently the biggest problem, a weapon of mass destruction on a campus that diffuses difficult topics with silence and threats, but allows fraternities, sororities, and bake sale organizers to chalk the campus as they please. Only a month after our performance and only two hours east of USC, police confronted, handcuffed, and detained a group of students at Coastal Carolina University for writing chalk statements critical of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.30

The chalk was seized as evidence. [End Page 203]

By the time Sergeant Michael and Sergeant Alonso made it to the scene of our “crime,” Officer Matthew, Brian, and I gathered around the alleged source of the complaint: the chalk drawing on the smoke stack that read “S L A V E: slaves built this.” The incident was resolved when Sergeant Alonso expressed his understanding for what we were doing, asked me to simply call next time we decided to do something like this, and explained that no vandalism, hate speech, or criminal activity had been committed. He told us that his office receives at least two calls a week for racial, gendered, and sexualized hate speech, and that he did not consider what we did to constitute that charge.

So imagine my surprise a week later when my colleague calls me to deliver a threat from some unnamable forces.

My colleague called them “the big guns.”

I explained that this faceless, nameless phone call was a poorly executed attempt to veil a threat, a power play, and an avoidance dance of current issues facing the nation and our community on campus. For if those who called actually cared enough to speak to me directly, we would have to have a conversation about the performance’s content and the work that campus leadership must undertake to respond to the university’s legacy in the present. My colleague told me that I should neither “stew” nor should feel “infantilized,” and that I should not be “made to feel like the big guns are coming down on me.”

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went to see Selma at the arts cinema in Columbia, South Carolina. It was packed. Several times during the film, you could feel the row of seats move as people shook, weeping, together, in the dark.

On the screen we saw constant flashes of the Confederate flag, which for the most of world symbolizes hate, racism, the southern American past. In the film, it symbolically marks the place of danger, the people who will murder. In South Carolina, as the (white) argument goes, it represents southern heritage.

Only the night before I joined a march down Gervais, a part of the #Black Lives Matter campaign in Columbia, which ended at the state house to hear local activists and poets deliver much-needed words about the physical and psychic power of racism in Columbia and beyond. Above us, right behind the statue of racist segregationist and Jim Crow supporter, Benjamin Ryan Tillman, the Confederate rebel flag waved in the wind.

We lit candles, bowed our heads, held up signs (mine was for the repeal of the “Stand your ground” laws in South Carolina), and chanted:

No justice, no peace. [End Page 204] Stop police brutality.Hands up, Don’t Shoot.I can’t breathe.

The deep south is the closet of this country’s guilty conscience of its racist past. That South Carolina wears its racist heart on its racist sleeve in its statues, its flags, and its state rhetoric allows that juxtaposition—of the postracial nation and the racist south—to continue. It allows for the too-easy claim that racism is dead but lives on there … way … down … there.

And yet, visual, visceral, and ephemeral evidence remains inadmissible, just like in South Carolina.

Black people are hunted and mass incarcerated, just like in South Carolina.

Unarmed black men are shot and killed for no reason other than the color of their skin, just like in South Carolina.

Sex and sexuality are used to censor and censure the lives of black women, just like in South Carolina.

Black transwomen are targeted and murdered, just like in South Carolina.

Voices of dissent are demonized, neutralized, and silenced, just like in South Carolina.

We wept at Selma because the events unfolding on the screen hit so close to home, geographically indeed, as we were only two blocks from the South Carolina state house. But we wept, I would wager to say, because we also felt bound by this moment in time, a moment in time that incorporates more than the deep South or Ferguson, but an entire country, and the transnational alliances with other struggles for justice around the globe.

This is undeniable forensic evidence.

Jennifer Tyburczy

Jennifer Tyburczy (PhD Northwestern University) is Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her first book, Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press in 2016. Tyburczy’s research has also appeared in Radical History Review, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Museum & Society, Text & Performance Quarterly, and Women & Performance. From February to May 2015, her exhibition Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship was on display at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York.


The author would like to thank Jeffrey McCune for creating this forum at a pivotal juncture in the Black Lives Matter movement for justice.

1. Siobhan Somerville, “Queer Loving,” GLQ 11, no. 3 (2005): 335–70.

2. Daughters of the Dust, directed by Julie Dash (1991; Kino International, 1992).

3. For more on speculative narrative, see Kinitra Brooks, “Finding the Humanity in Horror: Black Women’s Sexual Identity in Fighting the Supernatural,” Poroi 7, no. 2 (2011): 1–14; Julia Erhart, “Picturing What If: Julie Dash’s Speculative Fiction,” Camera Obscura 2, no. 38 (1996): 116–31.

4. Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1241–99. [End Page 205]

5. Patricia Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 48.

6. Barbara Smith, The Truth that Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000), 83.

7. José Muñoz, “Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts,” Women and Performance 8, no. 2 (1996): 5–12; José Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009).

8. For a communication studies approach to scientific evidence, see Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

9. Muñoz, Cruising Utopia, 10.

10. Ibid., 23.

11. “Grand Jury Indicts S.C. Cop in Death of Unarmed Man,” CBS News, December 4, 2014,

12. For example, see Abby Phillip, “South Carolina Indicted Three White Cops in Four Months, and It’s Probably not a Coincidence,” Washington Post, December 5, 2014,

13. “South Carolina Secures Series of Police Indictments as Protests Rage Elsewhere,” Guardian, December 5, 2014,

14. Ibid.

15. Glenn Smith and Thad Moore, “White South Carolina Ex-Police Chief Charged with Murdering Unarmed Black Man,” Post and Courier, December 4, 2014,

16. Sheena Howard, “The Pathology of the Magical Negro Narrative in Mike Brown Ruling,” Huffington Post, November 25, 2014,

17. This link also contains the unedited video of the shooting. Tony Santaella and Steven Dial, “Trooper on Shooting: ‘He Kept Coming Towards Me,’” WLTX19, September 27, 2014,

18. This link also contains a video of the shooting. Lara Saavedra, “Levar Jones didn’t Receive Proper Medical Care at Palmetto Health Richland, Lawyer Says,” WIS10, October 1, 2014,

19. Jack Kuenzie, “Palmetto Health Richland Responds to Criticism about Levar Jones’ treatment in ER,” WIS10, [End Page 206]

21. Michaela Pilar Brown, Tonya Gregg, and Leo Twiggs, Body & Soul, Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, October 23, 2014,

22. Rodney Welch, “Citing Controversy Kershaw Fine Arts Center Removes Two Paintings from Exhibition,” freetimes, October 26, 2014,

23. Ibid.

24. Rebecca Schneider, The Explicit Body in Performance (New York: Routledge, 1997), 12–21.

25. Quoted in Welch, “Citing Controversy.”

26. Ibid.

27. bell hooks, “The Oppositional Gaze,” in Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992), 115–31.

28. Sharon Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 2.

29. Heidi Cooley and Duncan Buel, Ghosts of the Horseshoe, University of South Carolina Center for Digital Humanities, accessed April 11, 2015,

30. Charles Perry, “Coastal Carolina Students Detained after Writing Unapproved Chalk Messages about Ferguson on Campus Sidewalks,” The State, December 2, 2014, [End Page 207]

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