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WAI Think Tank on Black on Both Sides
24 June, 2021
C. Riley Snorton borrows the title from Yasiin Bey’s eponymous album to explore the central role that the racialization of the black subject plays in transness and transness plays in the construction of blackness. Rather than reading race as a secondary order of difference, which would presume that race is principally a biologized form (and consequence of reproduction), the book proposes that ‘blackness’ is in apposition to ‘trans’ – that is, that they overlap in referentiality – since ‘blackness is a condition of possibility for the modern world and insofar as blackness articulates the paradox of nonbeing, as expressed in its deployment as appositional flesh.’ Unearthing historical photographs of black trans people, medical illustrations, accounts of trans celebrities, activism, and history, Snorton invites to reflect on the relationship between blackness and transness.