"“It Was Just the Talking That Was Important”:
Aspects of Black racialization have been sorely neglected in affect scholarship. This essay proposes a reading of Walter Rodney’s classic Black liberation text “The Groundings with My Brothers” in light of its generally unnoticed affectivity. Rodney’s practice of ‘grounding’ invites a reading in terms of affective relations between bodies. The compassionate stance and breakdown of class and racial hierarchies implicit in grounding suggest a new relational mode of being disruptive to the functioning of racial capitalism, which is contingent on the erection of empathy barriers to prevent the free flow of affective energies between its subjects. The textual body of “Groundings,” too, comes under investigation, as I locate ‘impressions’ of its author’s various bodily encounters in the rhetorical fabric. While its impressibility runs against masculinized rules of feeling, Rodney’s text still taps into exclusionary patriarchy. In the last section, I show how subsequent response essays ‘ground’ with Rodney, bringing the practice of grounding into intersectional and transnational territory and closer to its promise of bodily relations built on solidarity.