Like the rest of the book, the essay on blackface makes use of confessional autobiography: Abdurraqib recounts a dream in which he tries to drown Al Jolson, that most famous blackface performer, in a bathtub. Elsewhere, he writes of his own mother’s death, his relationships with friends, his different jobs. He excavates images from his life with staying power, such as his father returning from work and “sitting in [their] driveway with the windows up on [their] old van, letting loud jazz fill the car’s interior for a few moments before exiting”. Or his attempt to moonwalk as a child, accidentally falling down the stairs at the Islamic Centre. In these scenes, Abdurraqib is not defaulting to the first-person: there is just no neat separation between his object of study and himself, between those who perform and those for whom the performance is made.