Between my last book and Illegible Will, my life has under gone a series of sea
changes. The term is particularly apt, as in its original context, Shakespeare’s
The Tempest, a sea change suggests a metamorphosis that follows drowning.
These pages represent the drowning and the metamorphosis, the watery grave
and the sunlight.
The people who have helped me tread water and learn how to swim are
many. The community of scholars that has developed out of the Black Per for-
mance Theory Group has shaped this book in more ways than I can count.
Thanks especially to Jennifer Brody, Fadeke Castor, Sarah Cervenak, Tommy
DeFrantz, E. Patrick Johnson, Omi Osun Jones, Uri McMillan, Matt Rich-
ardson, and my brother from another mother, Jeﬀrey McCune. Thank you
Stephanie Batiste for always getting me to the ocean. You have all anchored
me with your grace, fabulousness, and spiritual depth.
Numerous people helped me put the book together. Yvette Christianse was
extremely helpful and gave me the courage to believe in what I was doing.
Saidiya Hartman was her lovely self. VéVé Clark helped from the other side. H.
F. Heese was kind in providing me with a copy of Tryntjie’s sentencing. I am
grateful for the assistance of Arvin Bhana, Chiman and Nirmala Govind,
Nigel Penn, and Goolam Vahed, who found archival material for me when I
was far away from home. My vari ous anonymous readers helped sharpen the
book’s focus. Miriam Angress is an amazing editor— I am so happy we found
each other. Patrick Walter was the developmental editor for the book. He did
a fantastic job, despite my bouts of sullenness when he insisted that poetic
language was not a stand-in for focused analy sis. My colleagues at the State