“What is essential is neither the interpersonal nor institutional orientation toward blackness, but the fact that blackness is the essence of that which orients. Put differently, the coherence of reality (be it institutional or interpersonal coherence) is secured by anxiety over both the idea and the presence of blacks. The black, to paraphrase Frantz Fanon (Fanon 1967, cited under Afro-Pessimism and Psychoanalysis), is a stimulus to anxiety, and it is the anxiety of antagonism (Sexton 2016) represented and embodied by blackness that creates the condition of possibility for both the rigid one-drop rule and the catholic plethora of shades that are named in countries like Cuba and Brazil.”

This is from the Oxford Bibliographies entry on Afro-pessimism, and it has useful hyperlinks. I think this is what bothers me about the texts that so mystify me. I have always said: they keep invoking blackness, then submerging it, then invoking it again. Racial inequality is constantly exposed as problematic, but no step toward progress is ever intimated.


One thought on “Afro-pessimism

  1. Also: because Black people are treated as non human they have to deal deeply with the question of what it is to be human. (I am not quoting correctly.) And: they are both hyper-visible and invisible. Hyper-visible as problem, but invisible in that they are not seen as necessary. (this is in that Walcott article on the limits of “diversity”).

    I’m interested in the visible/invisible – evoke and elide, the evasion of discussions of racism UPON EVOKING them, and I’ve got to get back to thinking about this, notes on this

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