UnCannon: centering the experiences of a Black, female- and queer-identifying scholar as she dips into some unknown history around slave revolts!
This short(ish) graphic novel started out at a three star review but slowly started climbing as I got more into it—part of me feels like this must have been because I have to remind myself how to read graphic novels every time I start one, especially one like this where the drawings are themselves telling a bit of a story.
The subtitle gives away the spoiler: this is a history of women-led slave revolts. It’s really the title that has the multitude of meaning relating to the book.
First is waking up to said revolts. It’d be more hilarious if it weren’t so horrifyingly tragic how, time and again, those who were in charge of documenting what was going on dismissed the contributions of women–“there was a revolt but all the men were chained up, it’s so cOnFuSiNg.” Hall points out, twice, that ships with a higher percentage of women were more likely to revolt.
For the people in the back: ships with a HIGHER percentage of women were MORE LIKELY to revolt.
A second take: what it means to live in a world that is built on this history–living “in the wake” of the history all around us. While I found the art at times confusing (like it detracted from the messaging), I never liked it better than when a ray of light or architectural line was used to show the alternate history around/under Hall–think a ghostly cutout under her feet while she reads about the horrific conditions of the Middle Passage, giving the reader a sense of walking on a ship deck knowing hundreds of human beings were underneath.
To see Hall again and again be rebuffed in her attempts to stitch together this story is a separate sort of torture, and one that is only slightly mitigated by the publication of this book. Lloyd’s of London might be paying reparations for the sins of its founders (https://www.theguardian.com/world/202…), but nowhere do they mention that it’s the actual business of insuring slaving ships that kept them afloat (….). What do we owe one another? Reading this book, for starters.