Ligature for Black Bodies attempts to re-humanize black bodies into black people byholding the power structures and people accountable who have reified a dominant anddestructive discourse. The collection explores the meanings of seeing police officers killingblack and brown people through their dash cams and body cams as they shoot them andeveryday citizens standing witness and documentarian through their cellphones. A Ligaturefor Black Bodies highlights how these videos mirror pictures that lynching attendees tookand/or sent as postcards across the country in the early to mid twentieth century.
Ourview of dying and dead bodies today, of African Americans made lifeless while surroundedby spectators, drives the manuscript. The found poems and persona poems read as police,prosecutor, and journalist's 'confessions' to the deaths of the Black people recorded ontoday's visual media. A Ligature for Black Bodies roots these confessions in the truths ofcontemporary news articles, autopsy reports, court testimonies, verdicts, and sentencesto illustrate how a white power structure seeks to make bodies out of black people.
Thisconversation reveals a racially rooted power structure that creates and perpetuates racismand how black people have, much too often, had to reclaim these bodies systematicallystripped of breath. The poems are evidence of Black people's continued American strivingto convince that same power structure that black lives matter. The final poem, written inthe voice of Sandra Bland and written to LaQuan McDonald and Tamir Rice, seeks todo just that.
The poems refuse the narrative of black people as bodies only. Instead, theirdiscourse creates a space where the poems re-member black people's dismemberment at thehands of white people through a journey of truth-telling.
A Ligature for Black Bodies by Denise Miller