"Entangled Encounters: The Transcultural Counterwitness and Implication in Claudia Rankine and John Lucas’s Situations." Eds. Paul, Heike; Kohl, Martina; Grabbe, Hans-Jürgen.
Drawing on current definitions of public testimony, this study turns to the work of Claudia Rankine and John Lucas’s Situations to explore how video poems challenge the pervasive stereotyping of black Americans in mainstream journalism and implicate viewers, particularly white ones, into the everyday and historical traumas of racial violence. Video poems, such as Situations, take advantage of multimodal channels to move viewers beyond spectator guilt to introduce a more nuanced understanding of American and global racism. Through an investigation of three of their video poems, “Stop and Frisk,” “In Memory of Trayvon Martin,” and “World Cup,” this study explores how Rankine and Lucas’s work opposes, and engages with, the pervasive stereotyping of black Americans presented in mainstream news media; how the multimodal nature of video poetry problematizes the viewers’ relationship with American and global racism; and how acts of counterwitnessing implicate viewers into distant histories of racial trauma.