“Me Against the World”: Revolutionary Abolition with Assata and Tupac Shakur

Authors: Carlos Serrano*,
Topics: Black Geographies
Keywords: Black geographies, carcerality, temporality, activism, abolition
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


For this paper, I place the theorizations and frameworks on anti-Black violence alongside Assata Shakur’s autobiography and Tupac Shakur’s body of work in order to bring forward how they experienced the anti-Black and carceral violence that loomed over their lives. I contend that Assata and Tupac are speaking within and against the carceral geographies, or the continuous surveillance, policing, and containment, that are a fabric of Black environments (Shabazz, 2015). This reading of Assata and Tupac together allows us to not only think about the revolutionary legacy of the Shakur name, but it also enables us to think about the intergenerational aspect of anti-Black and carceral violence. More specifically, I aim to read Assata and Tupac’s experiences alongside theorizations that place Blackness outside the Human, or in other words, how both embodied a “structural position of the Black as one of unmitigated vulnerability to violence” (Wilderdson, 2010). I also view this pairing of Assata and Tupac to contribute to scholarship that centers the “imprisoned radical intellectual” (Rodriguez, 2006) and “fugitive thought” (Hames-Garcia, 2004). Additionally, I also come to understand the works by Assata and Tupac of not only analyzing the carceral state. Following Fleetwood (2020), I think of their writings, speeches, and art as working “toward a radical imagining of what communities might look like based in place-making that emphasizes collective care, belonging, and freedom, instead of extraction and punitive captivity.”  

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