decolonization / famalaoan / politiku

Combat breathing

“What do you believe in that keeps you breathing despite blatant violence and disrespect? What do you believe in more than the evidence of injustice? I believe in the words and actions of Black women and queers across space and time.

“Ntozake Shange drew the term ‘combat breathing’ from Frantz Fanon’s description of the embattled breathing of Algerian prisoners of war:

“‘There is no occupation of territory, on the one hand, and independence of persons on the other. It is the country as a whole, its history, its daily pulsation that are contested, disfigured, in the hope of final destruction. Under this condition, the individual’s breathing is an observed and occupied breathing. It is a combat breathing.’

“Shange redefined this breathing as ‘the living response / the drive to reconcile the irreconcilable / the Black n white of what we live and where.’ In other words, the combat edge of Black feminist breathing is a form of radical presence in the face of multiple forms of violence.”

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

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