because surveillance reinforces and regulates white imagined visual logic about Black women’s bodies, said bodies have been mapped onto specific images, such as “stereotypical mammies, matriarchs, welfare recipients, and hot mamas” as a way to “justify [their] oppression.” this mapping happens in the everyday visualization (on camera, in public, at home, etc.) where racing and gendering occurs as caricaturization. through reinforcing visual processes and tagging them with definitions of comportment, race and gender take on their own meanings as what we read when we see the body. Black women’s bodies are always already visible through what Katherine McKittrick calls a “bodily code” that “means her place and body are seen to be, and understood as naturally subordinate to whiteness and masculinity.”
this project examines the ways Black women in film subvert or refuse the controlling images of the white imaginary through a practice of bodysecrecy. defined by M. NourbeSe Philip as the mechanism that codes the body as knowable, bodymemory is the tool by which “the Black body is seen and inscribed under the rubric of privileged visual ideology”; wherein Black women are made permanently locatable. grounded in the work of Black feminist/womanist scholars, poets, social theorists, and activists, I argue that the films I take up can provide an analysis of how state surveillance requires a culture of dissemblance as a way for Black women to claim control over their bodies.
Herrera, Alex León, "bodysecrecy: state surveillance and Black feminist refusal" (2018). University Honors Theses. Paper 524.