- “I Got This AB Original Soul/I Got This AB Original Flow”Frank Waln, the Postmasculindian, and Hip Hop as Survivance
The colonial construction of the indian is not arbitrary; the racist assemblage of the indian is part of circulating economies of violence and racism that capitalize on Indigenous erasure. As Chippewa scholar Gerald Vizenor posits in his seminal text Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance, the indian is produced from the settler-colonial imaginary with no original referent. The indian, as Vizenor asserts, is a simulation that is part of the physical and cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples. Drawing from Vizenor’s theoretical terminology, settler scholar Sam McKegney advances the term masculindian to speak to the triangulation of the bloodthirsty warrior, the drunken absentee, and the noble savage simulations that haunt settler preconceptions of Indigenous masculinity. Caught in the oppressive matrix of patriarchal colonialism and constructed as an infrahuman category of being, the masculindian is not intended as a viable subjectivity for Indigenous men but is a simulation predicated on impending death. This dehumanization evidences itself in the real world through the disproportionate number of Indigenous men who are incarcerated, missing and murdered, and brutalized by police and state institutions.1 The state-sanctioned murder of Indigenous peoples exposes colonialism’s reliance on necropolitics, which postcolonial theorist Achille Mbembe defines as the governmental determination of the disposability of certain subjects. Deemed expendable by settler-colonial logics, Indigenous men are living the discursive and material ramifications of this racist construction. Life is what is at stake for dismantling and reworking the settler-colonial fantasy of Indigenous masculinity, yet if settler colonialism necessitates the masculindian’s death, what possibilities are there for life? How are Indigenous men [End Page 121] (re)imagining, embodying, and mobilizing viable subjectivities that counter the death drive of the masculindian?
Through his hip hop poetics, Sicangu Lakota artist Frank Waln proposes a livable ontology for Indigenous masculinity. He refutes the death drive of the masculindian via his subversive creative expressions, which employ survivance as the point of departure. Waln revisions Indigenous masculine identity by shedding light on the production and fetishization of the masculindian. In this way, I assert that Waln’s praxis aligns with what Vizenor terms the postindian warrior—the Indigenous subject who disrupts colonial logics and refutes the simulation of the indian. Drawing on Vizenor’s postindian and McKegney’s theoretical development of the masculindian, I propose the term postmasculindian to speak to the subject who disrupts the toxicity of white heteropatriarchy by crafting, (re)inventing, and living viable modes of Indigenous masculinity. The “post-” of the postmasculindian denotes the movement beyond the restrictive confines and corrosive quality of the colonially constructed masculindian.2 By reading Waln’s hip hop poetics as survivance anthems of Indigenous masculinity, I suggest that Waln illuminates this new mode of Indigenous identity—a postmasculindian subjectivity—an identity that moves beyond the death drive narrative of the masculindian.
Using Indigeneity as his ideological framework, Vizenor reshapes Jean Baudrillard’s theoretical considerations of simulacrum to engage with the settler-colonial production of the indian.3 As Vizenor suggests, the indian mistakes and substitutes itself for the real, erasing the presence of Indigeneity, evolving into hyperreality, and concealing its own production: “indian, misgiven here in italics, insinuates the obvious simulation and ruse of colonial dominance. Manifestly, the indian is an occidental misnomer, an overseas enactment that has no referent to real native cultures and communities” (vii). The indian obscures its own genesis by entangling the real and the imaginary in an unparseable knot, yet as Vizenor asserts, there is only an absence behind the sign of the indian. The indian is thus the presence of an absence. Static, contained, and readily knowable, the indian is archived, only existing within the colonially constructed narrative of dominance but also always relegated to the past. Produced through willful misrepresentation, the indian encodes an uninhabitable subjectivity onto Indigenous peoples; this is not an identity to be lived but an identity to die. This is the bonding [End Page 122] of abjection to subjectivity. The indian attempts to incite the death of Indigenous peoples by valuing narratives of hypotragedy that gesture to...