This presentation builds on the African Mobilities scholar workshop: New York Change, led by International Africa Lab. It explores the way forward for Black neighbourhoods underneath the spectre of gentrification and redevelopment in New York Metropolis. Modern transportation routes in New York Metropolis, just like the Cross Bronx Expressway, stand as monuments to the vicious insurance policies of slum clearance within the 1950s to the 1970s, steeped within the reinforcement of racial segregation and concrete group displacement.
It concurrently explores the various ways in which the Black Lives Matter protests, marches and actions reterritorialised the city infrastructure of highways, streets, bridges and plazas that had served as an city equipment of black and brown dispossession. Whereas in protest of the violent and lethal confrontations with law enforcement officials and white supremacists, at the moment’s Black Lives Matter protests should not solely stopping visitors, however — to the chants of “shut the entire system down” — they’re additionally strategically disrupting the circulate of individuals and items that feed the metro space’s multibillion-dollar international financial system.
By using discovered picture, video, animation and collage, the video displays study the twin historic narratives of dispossession by city renewal and tactical appropriation by city protest. By appropriating photos of city detritus, architectural components, and shopper tradition, the Afro-Imaginary collages reinvent contested websites of redevelopment and gentrification in New York Metropolis.
The town’s infrastructure created an enclosure for a lot of black communities, and in case you overlay redlining maps with Covid-19 prevalence maps, together with the infrastructure maps of New York Metropolis, there’s a confluence of relationship that turns into extra specific — illuminating the methods during which infrastructure works to surround on the city scale. Once we come all the way down to the dimensions of housing, it’s one other type of enclosure inside these boundaries. We will additionally consider the Black physique as being a type of bodily and psychological enclosure. These multi-scaled enclosures collectively produce the circumstances of immobility.
With New York Metropolis being the early epicentre of Covid-19 in america, in addition to an epicentre of a reinvigorated social justice motion — significantly with the current Black Lives Matter protests within the metropolis — Black our bodies and different our bodies marching have been in search of methods to defy these programs and relationships to infrastructure.
At sure moments of the protests, which began once more in June 2020, there could have been three or 4 marches occurring within the metropolis. The marches come collectively at intersections and plazas, after which cut up aside once more heading in several instructions, such that the police are unable to corral them. It’s in these moments of protest and mobility that the Black physique improvises a method to break the enclosure’s confines.
The appropriation of infrastructure — or appropriation generally — is one thing that Black folks, significantly within the US, have all the time needed to do, whether or not that is considering artwork, desirous about music or desirous about the methods during which Black folks should exist in and make areas.
International Africa Lab is Mabel O Wilson and Mario Gooden, along with Carson Smuts and researchers Ife Vanable and Zachary H White.