Rasheedah Phillips

Rasheedah Phillips

She // Her // Hers, They // Them // Theirs

[ID: A Black person with brown skin, short hair, and red lipstick standing inside of a large warehouse in the GBAR Experiment at CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.]

Portrait photo courtesy of the artist.

Interdisciplinary Artist and Experimental Writer
Philadelphia, PA
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Katie Weitz, PhD.

​​Rasheedah Phillips is a queer housing advocate, parent, writer, interdisciplinary artist, and cultural producer who uses web-based projects, zines, short film, archival practices, experimental nonfiction, speculative fiction, printmaking, performance, social practice, installation, and creative research to explore the construct of time, temporalities, and community futurisms through a Black futurist cultural lens and experience. Phillips’s writing and artwork has appeared in The Funambulist Magazine, e-flux Architecture, Flash Art Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, Recess Arts, and more. Phillips is the founder of The AfroFuturist Affair, founding member of Metropolarity Queer Speculative Fiction Collective, cofounder of Black Quantum Futurism, cocreator of the award-winning Community Futures Lab, and creator of the Black Women Temporal Portal and Black Time Belt projects. Recognized as a national expert in housing policy, Phillips is a 2016 graduate of the Shriver Center Racial Justice Institute, a 2018 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity, and a 2021 PolicyLink Ambassador for Health Equity. As part of Black Quantum Futurism and as a solo artist, Phillips has been awarded an Arts at CERN Residency, a Vera List Center Fellowship, A Blade of Grass Fellowship, a Velocity Fund Fellowship, among others. Phillips has exhibited, presented at, been in residence, and performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Serpentine Gallery, Red Bull Arts, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Akademie Solitude, Manifesta 13 Biennale, documenta fifteen, and more.

  • Artwork by Rasheedah Phillips
    Mmere Dane: Black Time Belt, 2021. Digital, web.
    [ID: A blue outline of the lower 48 states of the USA with the words “Mmere Dane: The Black Time Belt” in white typeface at the top. Over the map is a circular design with triangles at each side, with symbols embedded around it. Points on the map are marked with labels and dates of historical black towns and settlements.]
  • Artwork by Rasheedah Phillips
    The Prime Meridian Unconference, 2020–2022. From the Time Zone Protocols exhibition and digital space. Vera List Center for Art and Politics, New York. Photo by Argenis Apolinario, courtesy the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.
    [ID: A group of people sit on chairs and benches inside an art gallery facing a speaker at the far-end of the gallery.]
Artwork by Rasheedah Phillips Artwork by Rasheedah Phillips


Race Against Time: Afrofuturism and Our Liberated Housing Futures

I. Introduction: Time in the Law
Early on, many of us are taught to map out major events, world history, and even our own lives onto a timeline that runs horizontally from past to present to future. The timeline typically looks like a straight line, with major events representing discrete points on the timeline, where time comes from behind us and moves forward. Linear time on the standard timeline represents “an irreversible progression of moments, yielding cardinal conceptions of past, present, and future, as well as duration.”¹ Carol J. Greenhouse describes how “[t]he Western cultural capacity for that belief [in linear time] was established a thousand years ago, or longer, when institutional and social structural changes gave linear time a path from the sacred domain to the domain of the everyday.” She argues that this belief becomes “reproduced in the juxtaposition of institutional forms and temporalities which constitute everyday experience in the modern world.”²

Thus, the role of time and temporality is inextricably linked to a variety of systems and institutions that touch the moment-to-moment lives of people. This is glaringly true of the legal system, where, as Rebecca R. French puts it, “time enters every part of how we practice, analyze, project, and balance legal arguments; it is integral to our daily schedule, our client appointments, our classroom teaching time, our court dates, our tickler files, our view of our careers.” Despite time’s entrenched nature in the legal system, “we rarely think about how ‘time’ actually works, presuming that it is the simple linear measuring device that the clock creates for us.”³ Renisa Mawani agrees that “law is fundamentally about time.”⁴ She notes that “few have examined how law appeals to particular conceptions of time, whether linear, chronological, circular, or instrumental,” while “even fewer have asked how law produces time, how it orders the nomos through its own temporalities, aspiring to assimilate and absorb other temporalities in the process.”⁵

I would argue that fewer still have taken up closer examinations of constructions and intersections of race, time, and the law. Although much has been written about legal constructions of space and race, the time dimension is not covered with the same breadth, despite playing a daily and crucial role in how people—particularly Black, poor, disabled, and other marginalized people—are valued, treated, punished, erased, or underserved by and within the legal system.⁶ The timescapes and temporal structures of legal systems are especially underexplored in substantive areas of civil rights, poverty, and public interest law, as are the ways in which class oppression and institutional racism are reinforced by the union between time and the law.

¹ Carol J. Greenhouse, A Moment’s Notice: Time Politics Across Cultures 223, 230 (1996).
² Carol J. Greenhouse, Just in Time: Temporality and the Cultural Legitimation of Law, 98 Yale L.J. 1631 (1989); see also Jeremy Rifkin, Time Wars 146-47 (1989)
³ Rebecca R. French, Time in the Law, 72 U. Colo. L. Rev. 663, 664 (2001).
⁴ Renisa Mawani, Law as Temporality: Colonial Politics and Indian Settlers, 4 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 65, 71 (2014).
⁵ Id.
⁶ See work by Michelle Bastian, Emily Grabham, Renisa Mawani, and Sarah Keenan.