What it Takes to Ban’ Yuh Belly, reflections by Evelyn Amponsah

Evelyn Amponsah

(Journal post supported by Mayworks Festival for the Arts)

Anique Jordan’s ‘Ban’ yuh belly’, a series that visually grapples with the ways Black people cope with the loss of loved ones due to anti-Black, systemic violence, is a work that asks us to reject making sense of the way we deal or do not deal with such violence by challenging the linear trajectory of how people are expected to mourn.  The series, instead, asks the viewer to ‘Ban’ yuh belly’, a Caribbean expression meaning “brace yourself”.   Ban’ yuh belly – a phrase that is both a warning and a place of comfort, can be read in relation to Jordan’s work, not only as holding or bracing yourself, and therefore a sense of stillness, but  also as a verb. Do something- act… be prepared. But also, be still.  It is both the movement and the stillness that is the refusal of sense making present in this work.  How can we both be still and move – at the same time? Jordan’s work tells us we can. We can by refusing the  normalized process of  grieving that is expected of Black people. The process that is laid out for us … we are killed, it is reported in the media, it is archived (made to be in the past, moved on…repeated).   The senseless labour that is involved in this process wants Black people to grieve losses with an expectation that it will be the last, even though we know it is not. What I mean here is that the anti-Black world has not changed, it has killed, is killing and will continue to kill Black people, asking us to grieve an ongoing process is asking us to ignore that the world still kills us.   Jordan’s work asks us to interrupt this process, not waste our labour, doing the work to get over something that is not over. Instead Jordan tells us to ban’ yuh belly. Jordan asks us to refuse doing the labour of moving on, not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t until the structures that make life impossible for Black people are dismantled.  read more…

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