Afropessimism, Or Black Studies As A Class Project

Adolph Reed Jr. at nonsite:

Wilderson and Hartman insist that Afropessimism is not a politics (ARA 42–43, 56–57; SOS 65), but that demurral is either naïve or disingenuous. Counsel against pursuit of solidarities with nonblacks is a political stance and a potentially quite consequential one at that. And Afropessimism’s groupist focus proceeds from a class politics that represents the perspectives and concerns of a narrow stratum as those of the entire racialized population. Wilderson displays this class perspective in his romanticization of “Black suffering” (AP 328–331f).14 He gives away the game more directly when he says that one should think of Afropessimism as “a theory that is legitimate because it has secured a mandate from Black People at their best; which is to say, a mandate to speak the analysis and rage that most Black people are free only to whisper” (AP 173). Similarly, Hartman indicates in discussing Scenes of Subjection that “the book is about the problem of crafting a narrative for the slave as subject … That’s where the whole issue of empathetic identification is central for me … In many ways, what I was trying to do as a cultural historian was to narrate a certain impossibility, to illuminate those practices that speak to the limits of most available narratives to explain the position of the enslaved.”

more here.