By Tavia Nyong’o

About Tavia Nyong’o

Tavia Nyong’o is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, where he teaches courses on African American art and culture, queer studies, and popular music. The author of The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory, he is completing a manuscript titled “Dark Days: Race against Time in Black Art, Cinema, and Performance since the Sixties.” He is coeditor of the journal Social Text.


Hey you! Yes . . . you! Now that I have your attention, let me ask you a question. How did you know it was you I was addressing? I didn’t call you by your name, after all. In fact, I don’t know your name or any other distinguishing characteristic. Nonetheless, I called out, and you turned your attention to me. There is a lot of power in what just happened, more than you might initially suspect. Or maybe you do already suspect. Perhaps you are already conscious of the coercion in my addressing you in this abrupt and unceremonious manner. Maybe you rankle a little at my interruption of what you intended to be doing, my disruption of what you were expecting to find here in this essay. Who am I, you may be asking, to presume to command your attention as I have just done?

“Subject” first emerged …

Embodiments, Feelings, Power
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