Anarchic Strains in the Comics of Ronald Wimberly and Keith Knight


Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke reminded his listeners of an assumed relation between blackness and a “bad” kind of anarchy in a speech given at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Ohio on July 18, 2016. Although a black man, Clarke’s rhetorical objective seems to have been racial caricature, equating Black Lives Matter advocates and the protests in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Baton Rouge to “a collapse of the social order.” Clarke opined that “many of the actions of the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter transcends peaceful protest and violates the code of conduct we rely on—I call it anarchy” (qtd. in Crockett). At least since the mayhem pictured during the climax of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, anarchy has been imagined as a hobgoblin of racial disorder within the white imaginary. The speculations of some political speakers have not ceased to encircle Griffith’s wagons. To them, every black person with the authority to assert his or her own value, or worse, the value of his or her fellows, may at any wrong moment become Giorgio Agamben’s homo sacer or sacrificial man, public enemy number one, or just another target. From some historical points of view, it is open season on black life in America and it has always been, or so it would seem if one were to observe only the memes posted by Black and Red Anarchist on Facebook. Similar messages may be found in anti-racist (and to some extent anti-state) comics by African American artists.

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