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“Death Undone” :: Read Nehal El-Hadi on Black Life and Thanatosensitive Design

Read TRU Member Nehal El-Hadi’s essay in The New Inquiry, “Death Undone.” The essay demands that new relations between death and social media technology begins with the acknowledgement of Black life.

Read the Excerpt:

ANOTHER Black man died on my feed.

I didn’t know who Philando Castile was until July 6, 2016. Castile was in his car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter, when he was fatally shot by a police officer from the Saint Anthony Police Department in Minnesota. Reynolds used her phone to film the moments after Castile was shot four times. Somehow, she had the presence of mind in the trauma of the moment to live-stream the events (this was not the first interaction between Castile and the police recorded by Reynolds).

On June 16, 2015, Twitter introduced a new feature called autoplay: “When a user scrolls through his/her Twitter timeline and sees a video, that content will begin to automatically play while muted. Clicking on the video will bring the user into the full-screen viewer with sound and continue playing.” Over a year later, on July 6, 2016, I was scrolling through my feed when the footage of Castile’s murder started playing automatically. On screen and at eye level, it captured my attention.”


Read the full essay here