Where we Know From:
Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Duke University Press, 2016.
Joel K. Bourne, Jr., "Their ancestors survived slavery. Can their descendants save the town they built?," National Geographic, 2019.
Alison Keyes, "The ‘Clotilda,’ the Last Known Slave Ship to Arrive in the U.S., Is Found," Smithsonian Magazine, May 22, 2019.
Descendant (Documentary on the Clotilda and Africatown streaming on Netflix).
The Wake: The Ship is Still Here, and So Are We
Season 1, Episode 6
Hey, friends! In this episode we're talking about Christina Sharpe's term: the wake. A multi-meaning metaphor that names how the slave ship structures contemporary society, despite the formal "end" of slavery.
Before we give you the tl;dr (too long; didn't read) of Sharpe's The Wake: On Blackness and Being, we discuss the "discovery" of the Clotilda in 2019 as our case study. The Clotilda was the last known slave ship to bring enslaved peoples from West Africa to Mobile, Alabama in 1869, despite the passing of the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in1807. Slavers sunk the ship in the Mobile River to cover up their crime. After Emancipation Proclamation, those brought over on the Clotilda established Africatown, a settlement with its own chief, schools, and legal system. Africatown still stands today. Despite formal discovery of the Clotilda in the 2019, the ship's location at the bottom of the Mobile River was well known amongst Africatown residents through their own family histories and archival work.
We discuss Africatown residents efforts to preserve the legacy of their ancestors as exemplifying "wake work." Kohar and Iman discuss their own family histories in the South, and Kohar shares the work she's been doing with her tribe to honor sunken mishoons (canoes) in Worcester, MA.
As always, we close out with our half-baked thoughts. The segment where we share ideas we haven't fleshed out, but stand fully behind. You'll just have to listen to the episode to hear those.