Intelligent Mischief Presents "The Black Body Survival Guide"


A group of Black creatives based in Boston, Intelligent Mischief (IM), are building a multimedia project discussing anti-Black racism in the United States of America through satire called "The Black Body Survival Guide." Intelligent Mischief describes the guide as "a multi-media compilation of satirical tips, tricks, and tools created in response to the current moment in the history of violence against black people." These list of rules come at a time where Black people in the U.S. are witnessing the brutal assaults and deaths of Black people by the hands of the state.

The concept of the guide first began after Terry Marshall, co-founder of Intelligent Mischief, watched the closing remarks in the Zimmerman case after the killing of Trayvon Martin. "Black Bodies are seen as the ultimate other and seen as something that needs to be taken care of. We figured there must be some new rules and we need to figure them out," said Marshall. The guide was built through what Intelligent Mischief calls "hack labs." A hack lab is a workshop where participants are expected to quickly create an idea in a group. "We like the participatory nature of hack labs and hackathons. We do low-tech hacks where we build ideas with the knowledge, skills, and talents we have that way hacking is more accessible to Black communities," said Chrislene DeJean, co-founder of Intelligent Mischief.


IM held several hack labs in 2014 to where they crowd-sourced satirical tips and tools from participants. DeJean says, "The original goal was to write a community designed book in a day. Then the project began to transform in it's meaning. It was very important for us to build this book listening to tips from different kinds of Black folks because we know how diverse the Black experience is..." The collective is a group of Afro-Caribbean descendants, where they strongly identify with their West Indian heritage as well as being culturally influenced being Black in America. That unique experience of their own cultural background made it important for them to diverse identities within Blackness.

They mention that their guide is developing in a different direction as they they are developing their characters as "Black Body Survival agents" and honoring renown Black leaders as Black Body Survival ancestors all while keeping this guide satirical. "This book is written by Black people for Black people. We are writing this book as Black Body Survival agents talking to other Black agents about survival tips they want to share. We think anyone that's woke is an agent. We're out here to save ourselves and our people." Their perception of past Black leaders like Harriet Tubman, Denmark Vesey, Audre Lorde as Black Body Survival ancestors honors the historical legacy of Black resistance. Though the guide carries an afro-surrealist lense, they are holding onto the satire, seeing humor as an access point for readers to be validated on how ridiculous racism is in this "post-racial time."

The guide has so far produced materials out of the tips that they have gathered or have created themselves. They are currently beginning the process of writing their book which they hope to have completed by February 2016. The collective is fundraising on Indiegogo to support their writing process and production.