Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Guillermo Douglass-Jaimes

Reader 2

Zayn Kassam

Rights Information

2019 Betel Tesfamariam


This thesis aims to demonstrate how the processes of gentrification and displacement are interrelated processes that invent new ways of perpetuating anti- blackness in the U.S. I demonstrate this through an engagement with Christina Sharpe’s (2016) analysis of the imagery of the wake, the ship, the hold, and the weather as axis points that position Black life in the afterlife of slavery—how the conditions of slavery are ongoing today—presenting the racist encounters at Lake Merritt as illustrative examples. In her most recent book, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Sharpe (2016) deploys an interdisciplinary approach to critically theorize Black subjection and grief through a Black feminist framework, offering care, or what she terms “wake work” as an anecdote to state-sanctioned anti-black violence. She turns to poetry, film, historical archives, and intimate personal experiences to thoroughly articulate how the past is not passed; I reveal how capitalist logic simultaneously structures media representations of Black people in ways that distort what we signify— monstrosity, threat, and criminal are three examples of this distortion—and fix abstract space in hegemonic spatial imaginaries through privatization and commodification. Most importantly, I turn to art and expression—prominent examples being “BBQ’N While Black” and "The Black Spatial Imaginary" as a community response to BBQ Becky and serial displacement in Portland, Oregon respectively—as resistance and examples of place-making practices that Black people have been engaged in historically to articulate their self-hood, belonging, and beauty through Black love. I strive to undertake this work with intentionality and care, which necessitates an undisciplined approach as academic disciplines have historically deployed methodologies that construct narratives on Blackness that reproduce colonial and anti-black violence.