The Abjection of Black Life in Reserve, LA
Posted: 14 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 14, 2018
In this proposal, I hope to interrogate the continued abjection of black life as it traverses through enclosure, ecological degradation, and policy. As NCOBPS celebrates its 50th anniversary and asks the question of the importance of black politics as we move further into the 21st century, I am remised to revisit the aims and objectives of black politics. Reading from NPSR’s 11th volume, I employ a definition of black politics that entails black struggles in which political power is achieved for black group liberation, especially as it challenges mainstream scholarship that maintains stability and the state. It is in this regard that this proposal will investigate the struggles of black people in Reserve, LA as they respond to the enclosure of petrochemical chemicals in their communities. Denka, formally a Dupont plant, operates a chloroprene factory in LaPlace county. Chloroprene, however, has been linked to increased rates of cancer. In this paper, I am interested in an investigation of how this ecological crisis is maintained by state policy, and yet fulfills the structure of abjection/disposability of black existence. As black activists agitate for greater political power and self-determination within their community, Reserve demonstrates how black liberation undoes capitalism, liberal representation, and the state. Denka does not produce surplus value without the abjection of the black southern worker facilitated by EPA neglect and favorable zoning laws. How might the success of Reserve, LA activists also speak to this undoing? Under what conditions could this success become possible? Through an analysis of capital encroachments in LaPlace, a review of the unprecedented cancer rates, and an examination of zoning policy this paper will highlight the mechanisms black activists face in their struggle for power.
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