Teefing Time: When Black Youth's "Time Use" Becomes Time Theft

Authors: Rahsaan Mahadeo*,
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Urban Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: Race, youth, time, urbanized space
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper is driven by a straightforward, yet understudied question: What does it mean to use time that does not belong to you? It means, as I demonstrate, that your “time use” will be read as “time theft,” and thus criminalized. For black youth in poor, urbanized space, it means they are more likely to owe than own time. Drawing on data from thirty in-person interviews and ethnographic fieldwork conducted over fifteen months with youth at Run-a-Way – a shelter and outreach center for youth in the Twin Cities – I make the case that racialized violence takes time. Not only does processing racism take time, but time is taken from black youth forced to perform an inordinate amount of physical, psychic and emotional labor to reckon with emblematic of the future yet denied a place in time. Black youth at Run-a-Way report being criminalized by salespeople, teachers, police, and many deputized whites. The charge? Using time and space that does not belong to them. Within the context of “white time,” nonwhite time is excavated and transferred, intensifying existing forms of racialized dispossession. The inordinate amount of time black youth at Run-a-Way spent processing racialized violence resulted in further deficits and debt. This labor consumes a significant amount of time that remains largely incalculable because the time required process racialized violence literally and figuratively does not count. To racialized persons, however, experiences with systems of racialized violence will always count, because they are countless.

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