Presupposed, Predisposed

By Chris Shaw, Simone Semere & Jenny West

In many cases, the carceral system leads to injuries–violence, surveillance, discrimination–that lead directly to more injuries, given how difficult it is to protest this kind of violence.  This audio essay looks to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! as resources for thinking through this double injury.  The essay includes two first-person reflections on the exclusionary nature of the law and its enforcement; listeners are encouraged to know that these stories include content describing violence.

In the image, Aalayna, the young woman interviewed in the audio essay, is shown after the encounter that she describes in the podcast; the image on the bottom left was taken the day after the encounter, and the image to the right was taken two weeks later.  When she asked for help, no help was given.

Thank you 

We would like to thank Aalayna for her bravery in talking about her experience.  We would also like to thank Simon for his.

References and Notes

Monplaisir. (2017). Overdriven Melancholic Guitar. On Power Animal [MP3]. Retrieved from:

Philip, M. N., & Boateng, S. A. (2011). Zong! #11. Zong! (PAGE NUMBER) Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Rankine, C. (2015). Citizen: An American lyric. , UK: Penguin Books.

Bolanos, M.H. (2017). Melocholic Kid. On Unchained Melodies Vol. 2.

Two short passages were shared from Citizen and Zong! (They are not written in in the show notes because of copyright laws). That being said, we highly encourage anybody and everybody to read both books in their whole. There are many, many more examples of the repetition of violence in Citizen: An American Lyric. Likewise, Zong! features many, many more poems that are just as haunting as Zong! #11. In our audio project, Zong! #11 was read in one way, but the structure of the poem allows for it to be read many different ways. This could incite different interpretations of the poem and thus is another reason to read it.

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