Drawing on his experience as co-founder and core organizer of Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO), dancer and choreographer Rodney Diverlus dissects the choreographic elements of a new era of Black resistance. Here, he focuses on the racial politics of assembly as it relates to Black liberation struggles both historically and in a post-Trayvon Martin present. Black-centric direct action is deliberate about its use of space and intentional about the physical interventions made by Black bodies in that space. This article examines BLMTO's protest tactics—including gestures like 'Hands up, Don't shoot' and the Black power fist, physicalized and embodied chants, and the deliberate disruption of public spaces—as models for effective and informed activism. It examines these movements as a continued lineage of successful choreographies of Black political assembly. Diverlus explores André Lepecki's concept of choreopolicing (whereby the police assert control of protestors) and positions it in stark contrast to Black-centric politichoreography, which uses distinct Black protest movement vocabularies to resist the state apparatus and police violence. Diverlus looks at BLMTO's use of these gestures and choreographed direct actions as both narrative symbols and embodied rallying points to bring together a raging community. Through these tactics, BLMTO poses and simultaneously answers the question: whose streets? BLMTO uses Black bodies—the very bodies marginalized and discarded by the state—as sites of power that unapologetically challenge not only the ownership of public space, but also the control of Black bodies in that space.


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pp. 62-68
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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