A sonic ensemble, this essay describes how the COVID-19 pandemic cleared the way for heightened protest against racial violence. Both the pandemic and Black Lives Matter address the acoustical threshold between the inside and outside, being a call to listen rather than simply to hear. Arguing that the call exceeds the confines of the first-person subject, particularly in its chants for justice, the essay moves through auditory fragments of pandemic and protest. These fragments are connected through the fact of air, breathe, and the recognition of a shared world and its chorus.
Part of a special issue of Sociologica, “Listening in a Time of Pandemic,” edited by Naomi Waltham-Smith and Jessica Feldman. With thanks to my friend and interlocutor, David Copenhafer, and to Ester Cois of Sociologica.