4: Conclusive Thoughts

In this final blessay, I am including this excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s poetry collection Citizen An American Lyric, which was published in 2014—the same year as #BLM began—by Graywolf Press in Minnesota.


The page following this list states “because white men can’t / police their imagination / black people are dying” (Rankine 135).

Disclaimer: while I hope that including this page does not violate any copyright laws, I intend to remove the image post-completion of this DH course. Notably, however, my inclusion of this page exemplifies digitization without explicit permission. The ethical considerations of posting this page differ from if this list were simply a note doodled by someone who had no intention of it being mass-released to the public. If I stumbled upon the latter, my own intentions and the impact of my actions toward that individual would be called into question. Here, though, my post reproduced a work that has already been circulated in mass quantities, so the issue stems from publication rules rather than violation of personal rights.

Whether you, the reader, have access to the excerpt or not, Rankine’s 2014 text addresses racism and inequality in the United States and is therefore a part of the same conversations as #Amerikkka and #BlackLivesMatter. Through various creative approaches, she conveys how this specific place has negatively affected an entire race. This chosen excerpt from her text displays a list of people who were killed because of racially related circumstances; therefore, she presents her own archive for the selected deceased. By slowly fading the list of names, she implies that further people inevitably will be added to those already listed. Thus, her list cannot be treated as static; though seemingly a contradictory statement, Rankine’s list provides an implied living archive for those who lost their lives to injustice because of its open-ended nature and assumption of incompleteness.

Despite the conversations occurring in our current society—namely, #BlackLivesMatter—injustice still happens, and these conversations—the physical, the digitized, and the born-digital—are far from over.

*Although I allude to this idea but do not completely address it in this project, I am interested in looking further into political rhetoric—seen on social media— and its effect on society. One article that acknowledges the beginnings of social media activism via Kony 2012 can be found here.

Project Works Cited

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Marxists Internet Archive, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, 2005, www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm.

Cohen, Dan. “The Blessay.” Dancohen.org, 2012, http://www.dancohen.org/2012/05/24/the-blessay/. Accessed 28 November 2017.

Fouché, Rayvon. “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud: African Americans, American Artifactual Culture, and Black Vernacular Technological Creativity.” American Quarterly, vol. 58 no. 3, 2006. Project Muse, muse.jhu.edu/article/203948. 

Powell, Malea. “Dreaming Charles Eastman: Cultural Memory, Autobiography, and Geography in Indigenous Rhetorical Histories.” Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process, 2008, pp. 115-127. 

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2014.

Terras, Melissa and Julianne Nyhan. “Father Busa’s Female Punch Card Operatives.” DH Debates, 2016, dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/57. Accessed 15 December 2017.

“2014 Word of the Year is ‘#blacklivesmatter.'” AmericanDialect.org, 2015, www.americandialect.org/2014-word-of-the-year-is-blacklivesmatter. Accessed 1 December 2017.

Project Works Referenced

Underwood, Ted. “On different uses of structuralism; or, histories of diction       don’t have to tell us anything about ‘culture’ to be useful.” tedunderwood.com, tedunderwood.com/2010/12/28/no-google-hasnt-proven-structuralism-but-they-may-have-made-it-useful/. Accessed 10 December 2017.