Kevin QuashieFeb 17, 2014
The Sovereignty of Quiet
Beyond Resistance in Black Culture
Rutgers University Press 2012
Musician James Brown is famous for his civil rights slogan, "Say it loud; I'm Black and I'm proud," illustrating the argument that Kevin Quashie makes in his new book The Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2012)--that public expressiveness has become the dominant trope for thinking through and even theorizing blackness. As a result, public expressivity (think powerful oratory at mass demonstrations or spirited polemics, such as David Walker's Appeal) is linked to resistance. In fact, contemporary activist-scholars, such as Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, have called on others, particularly whites, to engage in this kind of public expressiveness associated with blacks. One of Jones' 6 Rules for Allies, encourages others "to be loud and crazy so black folk don't have to". Jones is asking for allegiances that allow black folk time and space for quiet. Although what Jones advocates it still a necessity, Quashie presents a history and present of black folk engaging quiet, both with and without allies. In his provocative new study, Quashie expands and even challenges what it means to be loud and re-examines long held notions about double consciousness, the role of surrender vis a vis resistance, oratory as the most effective means of resistance, and the need to develop retrospection and cultivate interiority. No doubt his remarks during this interview will be of as much interest as the book.