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Afropessimism Critique

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Blackness exists in a state of absolute dereliction it stands in

opposition to civil society so that civil society can maintain its
coherence this pushes blackness into a position of social death
where gratuitous violence is justified because black bodies are seen
as inhuman. The state was founded on this ethical paradigm that
blackness must be subjugated in order for white slave owners to
maintain control
Purti Pareek 15, J.D. Candidate, Reform: Friend or Foe?: ANTI-BLACKNESS
Confluence, http://confluence.gallatin.nyu.edu/context/interdisciplinary-
The above analysis throws into crisis the contemporary human rights and legal
framework that is most often cited when talking about racial inequality. The main question
present here is, How can America and the policies it puts forth take into account for all people who make up America?
Problematizing this question and the idea of reform via present day frameworks, Coates
notes that the starting point of this question is itself incorrect. Instead of questioning how
can we create policies that are more inclusive of all types of peoples and battle social
inequality, we need to first question who is even considered a person in America (10). A crucial
part of this discussion is the development of the Human in opposition of the category of Black. Blackness exists in a
state of absolute dereliction. It is the zero-point of all Human endeavors, as it serves to
ground humanitys image of itself during the Enlightenment period and beyond. The
Enlightenment, with the rise of science and loss of ontological foundation in God, found itself in crisis, as the very fate and
essence of Human could no longer be divinely ordained. Moreover, the alarming awareness that man was perhaps not in
Gods image was compounded with the discoveries of peoples in the New World and the depths of the African continent,
challenging Europes exceptionalist cultural practices and concept of who is Human. For example, consider how startling it
was for European explorers to encounter the African tribal life of the Khosian people in the late seventeenth century:
Without the textual categories of dress, diet, medicine, crafts, physical appearance, and most important, work, the
Khoisan stood in refusal of the invitation to become Anthropological Man. S/he was the void in discourse that could only
be designated as idleness. Thus, the Khoisans status within discourse was not that of an opponent or an interlocutor, but
rather of an unspeakable scandal (Wilderson The Prison Slave as Hegemonys (Silent) Scandal (23). The Khosian,
as something unsignifiable in European coding of Human during this encounter, then
served not only to rupture the Human identification of Europe by challenging the social
edifice upon which Europe saw itself as civilized man, but it also moved to strike both
fear and fascination in the heart of Europe. These encounters demonstrated the possibility that behind the
mask of European science, ritual, politics, and life was something as anti-Human and animal as the Khosian. One
can easily imagine that, in order to heal the wound inflicted by the loss of Gods
grounding, and to reconcile the animal encounter within the civil European, that the
obvious step forward by White civic forces was to not only exclude the African from
Human life by rendering it animal, but also to juxtapose the African animal figure as a
demarcation that granted Europeans a new ground for their Humanity: the color of their skin.
Crisis was averted in this way. The Human essence was secured by the animalization of another, which paved the way to
render Africa a hunting ground for animals; for slaves. This is also highlighted by Wilderson, who notes, The race of
Humanismcould not have produced itself without the simultaneous production of that walking destruction which became
known as the Black. Put another way, through chattel slavery the world gave birth and
coherence to both its joys of domesticity and to its struggles of political discontent; and
with these joys and struggles, the Human was born, but not before it murdered the Black,
forging a symbiosis between the political ontology of Humanity and the social death of
Blacks (20-22) With this in mind, one can understand how the Enlightenment period, with all its talk of liberation, was
also the period most known for slavery, as it became a method to fabricate the Human essence of White populations.
Even the most supposedly progressive of the White resistance, the American revolutionaries for instance, who saw slaves
on an everyday basis, could say that they as Whites deserved freedom from such things as taxation, because at the very
least, they were not slaves; they were not Black. They were Human. It is Blackness that serves as a dam
that holds the waters of the Human in place even now, lest the referent to Humanitys
essence is lost again. The hierarchical and interlocking relation of White society as
Human over-determines and delimits the purview and reach of Black capacity exactly in
this way. A Black body, even prenatally, is a priori exposed to a legacy of slavery and
cannot transcend itself in assuming other subject positions. The only way to reconcile this
bifurcation, far from mere Biopolitical analysis, is to destroy one of the ontological fixtures,
Black or White, as they are antagonisms. Blackness as slave could not exist without
Whiteness; Whiteness as master could not exist without Blackness. It seems clear then that the
obvious ethical alignment is decidedly against the master, who continually murders people of color. This, however,
entails a structural, material struggle that cannot occur in the confines of human rights,
reform, or legal analysis in so far as neither of these frameworks is attentive to the limits of
their discussion of power for oppressed peoples. Similarly, the granting of human rights to
populations assumes that there are rights that a citizen must attain. By the prior discussion
of who is Human and how Human is defined, I indicate that not all residents of a nation-
state will be citizens. Therefore, the concept of citizen and rights that are granted require
the exclusion of non-citizens intrinsic to sovereign power. In this case, I treat the non-citizen the
same as the anti-Human, the Black. Discourses of rights, then, need the existence of the non-citizen.
The role that Black folk and legal/political non-citizens (such as refugees and migrant workers, to just name a few) play is
to remain excluded from the political orders of the nation-states they inhabit, instead shaping the modern political order via
their exclusion. The
limitations of conventional reform are further illustrated when we
investigate the foundations of the institutions (e.g. governments and supranational
organizations such as the United Nations) involved. US institutions are purportedly
founded upon principles of democracy, justice, and liberalism. Notions of democracy and
justice are used as justifications for governments everywhere to intervene and subjugate
different populations, inside and outside of their own nation-states. Therefore, these
values are used to justify the states domination over a group of individuals. In order to create
a mutually beneficial relationship between citizens of a nation and the government, John Lockes theory of social contract
was used as a framework for many Western governments. In his Second Treatise of Government (1689), Locke
elaborates that the state and citizens of the state would be bound by a moral and social contract to act in each others
interests. In Lockes view, the government is only legitimate because the citizens give it the powers to be legitimate. None
of Lockes writings take into account the concepts of race, gender, or class. Locke takes for granted this colorless and
universal approach to government and Statism, a system where the state has centralized control over political and
economic affairs. The mainstream analytic view of the Cartesian individual as per Contractarian theory influences
colorblind theories that justify violence in the name of reason and justice. In The Racial Contract (1997), Charles Mills
asserts that this analytic view ignores the historical and social processes through which identities are formed. The United
States governmental institutions have their origins in principles developed by political philosophers such as Locke. As a
result, our institutions and their methodologies, such as reformist policies, have the same gaps that their originating
theories have. Since
our institutions have ignored the historical processes through which
many persons identities have come about, they seldom take into account the historical
and present discrimination people of color face when engaging in the political sphere. It
should be noted here that many argue historical processes have not been ignored, as illustrated by affirmative action and
various other equal-opportunity policies. I
would argue that these policies address certain
individualized instances of racism and anti-Blackness but not the structural instances as
such. The policies passed seldom address institutional power and its connection with
structures of domination. Having colorblind institutions and a colorblind justice system not
only fails to contest racial domination, but they assist in the reaffirmation of anti-
Blackness by leaving historically bound and oppressive structures intact. Beyond the active
omission of race, gender, and class from his theory of government, Locke anchors his theory on the principle of property
ownership. The states primary purpose was and is to protect private property and advance ones rights to property.
Looking at the relationship between Blacks being anti-Human and thus technically
property and Lockes interpretation of rights, it is clear that the state that was created was
one that protected slave owners rights to enslaved persons and maintained the positionality
of a Black person as enslaved. We need not go further than original drafts of the constitution to see examples of
this. In the constitution, enslaved persons were described as property that owners had the right to trade and destroy
(Wilderson, Red, White, and Black 354). Moreover, enslaved persons, and later on, their black decedents during
reconstruction, were not seen as peoples to be educated, to have rights (mostly because they were still property) even
though later on, slavery was repealed via law. If Lockes theory of government is accepted as the foundation of liberalism,
then there remains a relationship between the establishment of Black persons as anti-Human and resembling property
instead of ontologically Human in modern day liberal democratic societies. Liberal notions of rights are not only
inapplicable to Black folks in modern day society, but also the advancement of liberal rights to sustain a Black persons
positionality as an anti-Human apolitical commodity. Even worse, it is in opposition to this idea that human rights are
developed. As the human-rights framework or any liberal-rights framework exists in the status quo, they exist from the
foundation of Lockes liberal notions of rights vis--vis protection of private property. It
becomes crystal clear
that rights-oriented frameworks aggressively work to grant rights to White citizens from
the political order of the nation-state that may grant rights in the first place, and, in turn
effectively rendering Black people as non-citizens regardless of their legal status. It is
this foundation of transforming African peoples to Black flesh through the Middle
Passage and adopting Lockes theory of government that creates the notions of rights
through protection of private property on which all rights-oriented frameworks are based.
Indeed if all of the above is true, then does reform have any chance of instituting progress? Can institutional racism be
challenged in society, as it exists today? A prominent counter-example is the Civil Rights Movement. It is argued that the
Civil Rights Movement was a movement that led to definite progress; it gave Blacks the right to vote among other legal
guarantees. Various scholars argue that the Civil Rights Movement was another band-aid solution. The Civil Rights
Even after the passing of
Movement, arguably, did not address the actual conditions of violence Black folk faced.
the Civil Rights Act, Black people are incarcerated at higher rates than any other population,
experience astronomical rates of HIV infection, poverty, as well as many other material
deprivations. Orlando Patterson explains in Slavery and Social Death that no other category but Black and White
served to fuel the machinations of Western understanding because of the specific position of Blackness as animal
towards Whiteness as agential human. During the Enlightenment period and thereafter, even the most hardened of
European criminals could expect death or banishment, but never enslavementnever can a White face serve as an
animal in opposition to another category, as it would call into question the content of Humanity itself. For example, the
reason that Blacks were enslaved was because they were not deemed as human but as a commodity to be traded .
Although this is such a simple point, it is important to reiterate because it means that
despite the subjectivity of other races, the Black is dead in so far as it can be reduced to
chattel and owned by others. This death experience is what shapes the entirety of the Black
experience, even when put into the hands of colored masters because it exposes those
marked as Black to a specific form of violence experienced by those who are not recognized
with humanity. There has been great debate over how to best challenge social death and discuss whether social
death exists at all. Many argue that despite the being socially dead, Blacks can gain power through engaging in rigorous
government reform and advocating for themselves. This approach is championed in hopes that power would be materially
redistributed where Black populations would no longer be systemically discriminated against. Conversely, there are
scholars who argue that social death can only be challenged when we challenge the very existence of US civil society, as
discussed earlier, if we accept the assumption that the construction
it exists in the status quo. As
of the United States itself was an unethical one, then it becomes inevitable that any measure
taken via civil society will only work to strengthen that unethical construction of the United
States. Because of this, it also becomes inevitable that even the most liberal reformist
policies can only alleviate individual instances of discrimination against Blacks but not
systemic oppression. Advancing these sentiments and arguments in a much more personal way, Coates
concludes his book by noting that we must also no longer view oppression such as slavery from within Western society
but its opposite. I
agree with Coatess take that we must take the standpoint of the oppressed
and realize that Black subjugation foregrounds White dominance from the outside and
flows into all other aspects of oppression. Only after understanding this and incorporating
this framework into all other human rights, politically reformist, and legal frameworks can we
create a starting point to address racial inequality in the United States that is not doomed for

Education is a site of anti-blackness the black body is seen as an

educational anachronism undeserving of education and inherently
Michael J. Dumas 15, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education, 7.12.2015, Against the Dark:
Antiblackness in Education Policy and Discourse, Theory Into Practice
What does it mean to suggest that education policy is a site of antiblackness?
Fundamentally, it is an acknowledgment of the long history of Black struggle for
educational opportunity, which 445 is to say a struggle against what has always been
(and continues to be) a struggle against specific anti-Black ideologies, discourses,
representations, (mal)distribution of material resources, and physical and psychic
assaults on Black 450 bodies in schools. During the years of state- sanctioned slavery,
white slaveowners would often beat their Black property for attempting to learn to read;
for Black people in bondage, learning to read was understood not only as a 455 pathway
to economic mobility, but perhaps more importantly as assertion of their own humanity, a
resistance to being propertied (Anderson, 1988; Dumas, 2010). A century later, Black children
faced down snarling, spitting mobs of white 460 parents and elected officials who were
incensed that their own white children would have to sit next to Black children, and
fearful that their white education would be sullied by the presence of the Black. And this,
then, is the essence of 465 antiblackness in -education policy: the Black is constructed as
always already Problemas non- Human, inherently uneducable, or at very least, unworthy
of education, and even in a multiracial society, always a threat to what Sexton described
as everything else. 470 School desegregation is perhaps the most prominent education policy of the past century
in which Black people have been positioned as Problem. Racial desegregation of schools in the United States has been
made necessary due to 475 generations of state-supported residential segre- gation, a form of American apartheid
(Massey & Denton, 1993) in which government housing policies allowed whites to accumulate land (and therefore wealth)
at the expense of Black people 480 (Dumas, 2015; Roithmayr, 2014). Residential segregation was rationalized as a
necessary means to avoid race-mixingthe presence of Black people particularly, but other people of color as well, was
seen as a detriment to the 485 quality of life and economic stability to which white people were entitled as a result of their
skin color. A
similar narrative emerged as whites organized in opposition to school
integration; anti-Black racism was at least one primary cause 490 of white flight from
school districts that were ordered to desegregate (Kohn, 1996). In many cities, whites went
to great lengths to create districts or school-assignment plans that concen- trated whites
in the most heavily resourced 495 schools, and relegated Black children to under-
funded schools with less experienced teachers and crumbling physical infrastructures
(Dumas, 2011, 2014; Horsford, Sampson & Forletta, 2013). 500 In short, school desegregation policy was
precipitated by antiblackness. However, school desegregation researchers are more likely to frame their
analyses through the lenses of access and diversity, emphasizing the educational 505 benefits of cross-cultural
interaction and the importance of providing more equitable allocation of educational resources (Orfield & Eaton, 1996;
Orfield & Lee, 2004; Wells, 1995; Wells, Duran & White, 2008). In contrast, theorizing 510 antiblackness in school
desegregation policy shifts our focus to interrogation of policies that led to the displacement of Black educators and the
Anti-blackness allows us to
destruction of school communities which affirmed Black humanity (Tillman, 2004).
capture the depths of suffering of Black children and educators in predominantly white
schools, and connect this contemporary trauma to the longue dure e of 520 slavery from
bondage to its afterlife in desegregating (and now resegregating) schools. And taking
Sextons (2008) analysis of multiracialism into account leads to a more nuanced and careful critique of how schools pit the
academic success 525 of (some) Asian American students against and above the academic difficulties of Black students.
Here, schools can be celebrated as diverse despite the absence of Black students in the building and/or in the higher
the Slave has no place in the most privileged and highly-regarded
academic tracks. 530 Ultimately,
school spaces; the Black becomes a kind of educational anachronism, not quite suited for
our idealized multi- cultural learning community. 535 Education practice and the possibility of Black life
WEB DuBois, writing about integration of schools in 1935, argued that segregated schools were still needed due to the
growing animosity 540 of the whites (p. 328). White public opinion, he explained, was overwhelmingly opposed to
establishing racially integrated schools. In such a context, he believed, it was impossible for Black children to receive a
proper education, 545 which, in his view, included sympathetic touch between teacher and pupil and the teaching of
knowledge about Black history and culture as a group, as citizens. We can read DuBois as seeking an education for Black
people that 550 creates spaces to disrupt the exclusion of the Black from the cultural and political regard extended to
those who are presumed Human. Most educators would like to believe that we live in a different time than DuBoisthat
the 555 animosity of whites against Black people has declined, or is no longer the norm, especially among well-
intentioned educators who profess to care about all children and who are likely to have been educated in colleges of
education with 560 expressed commitments to equity and diversity. The scholarship on antiblackness insists that the very
imagination of all children was never intended to include the Black, and that the Black becomes antagonistically
positioned in relation to diversity visions and goals. It is the Black that is 565 feared, despised, (socially) dead. But how is
any of this helpful? First,
as Wilderson suggested, it is important for educators to
acknowledge that antiblackness infects our work in schools, and serves as a form of 570
(everyday) violence against Black children and their families. This acknowledgement is different
from a broad stance against intolerance or racism, or an admission of the existence of white privilege. Teachers,
administrators and district 575 leaders should create opportunities to engage in honest
and very specific conversations about Black bodies, blackness, Black historical
memories in and of the school and local community. We all might explore together what it means to
580 educate a group of people who were never meant to be educated and in fact, were never meant to be, to exist as
Humans. More systemically, we might begin to imagine an education policy discourse and
processes of policy implementation that take antiblackness for granted. Thus, any racial
disparity in education should be assumed to be facilitated, or at least exacerbated, by
disdain and disregard for the Black. Differences in academic achievement, 590
frequency and severity of school discipline, rate of neighborhood school closures,
fundraising capacity of PTAs, access to arts, music and unstructured playtimethese
are all sites of antiblackness. That is to say, these are all policies in which the Black is
positioned on the bottom, and as much as we might wring our hands about it all, and pursue
various interventions, radical improvements are impossible without a broader, radical shift in
the racial order.
Schooling isnt a liberatory practice it serves to reproduce anti-
black social relations and teaches black youth how to live as caste
Clayton Pierce 17, assistant professor in Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary
Studies at Western Washington University, W.E.B. Du Bois and Caste
Education: Racial Capitalist Schooling From Reconstruction to Jim Crow,
Western Washington University,
Du Boiss analysis of caste education paints a picture where two unequal forms of social
life are produced. Caste schooling subjugated African Americans to state/industrial
educational governing strategies steeped in a biological racist rationality that sought to
discipline the white and dark worlds productive powers in ways that benefited industrial
capital. Yet caste education also taught White folks to invest in a sort of public and psycho-
logical wage that paid dividends in how it allots social, political, and economic privilege (Du
Bois, 1935/1998). Caste education for Du Bois helped construct an epistemic alliance
between White working-class groups and industrial capitalists (also White) by preserving
racial separation through eugenically organized schools while also setting into
competitive antagonism multiple groups of workers. Caste educations third dimension of
subject production (the first being the management of educations insurrectionary
potential for oppressed groups and the second being the eugenic rationality governing
schools) played out in how White workers learned to choose racial privilege over class
interestultimately driving wages down for all working groups and increasing profit
margins for the Northern and Southern White ruling class. In Du Boiss (1930/2002) words, the
Negro industrial school was the gift of capital and wealth. Organized labor was the enemy of the black man in skilled
industry. Organized
labor in the United States was and is the chief obstacle to keep black
folk from earning a living by its determined policy of excluding them from unions just as
long as possible and compelling them to become scabs in order to live. The political power
of Southern white labor disenfranchised Negroes, and helped build a caste system. (p. 190) Now we can better see why
reproducing caste subjects in a racial capitalist society is one of the key goals of caste education. The subjective
dimension of caste education in Du Boiss analysis, or how individuals are taught to value, relate, and think about
themselves and other caste groups, is directly connected to his dialectical model of the white and dark worlds mediated by
the veil. To make the relationship between caste education and subject formation clearer, we can look at how the veil
With the
produces psychological wage earners of Whiteness on the one hand and double consciousness on the other.
establishment of a poorly funded segregated schools such as Tuskegee and Hampton, caste
schooling provided a crucial mechanism for the mass-scale governing of working-class
populations that could reproduce and regulate the social relations of the white and dark
worlds.5 In this sense, the creation of two distinct social spaces through segregated
schooling reproduced for Du Bois the overall caste conditions that existed under the
slave codes and made its objective manifestation through a schooling system based on
the Black codes. In addition to the social and political caste spaces reconstructed
through segregated schooling, equally damaging epistemic governing structures were
also developed to regulate social life within the dark and white worlds in accordance with
the needs of racial capitalist soci- ety. A fundamental goal of caste schooling is the need
to teach individuals from both the white and dark worlds how to understand and live as
caste subjects as well as the value of social life attached to each. So, in addition to separating the
population along racial lines in a literal physical sense, in Jim Crow society, caste schools also needed to
educate people how to think as caste subjects.

Our alternative is to endorse an Afro-pessimist ideology it allows us

to navigate our lives through civil society more effectively through
analyzing the oppressive structures imbedded within the past and the
Jared Sexton, Aug 2016, Associate Professor, African American Studies School
of Humanities Associate Professor, Film & Media Studies, School of Humanities
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Ethnic Studies, Aug 19, 2016, Afro-
Pessimism: The Unclear Word, http://www.rhizomes.net/issue29/sexton.html
Afro-Pessimism is, in the words of Christina Sharpe, an attempt "to build a language
that, despite the rewards and enticements to do otherwise, refuses to refuse blackness,
that embraces 'without pathos' that which is constructed and defined as pathology.... It is
work that insistently speaks what is being constituted as the unspeakable and enacts an
ethical embrace of what is constituted as (affirmatively) unembraceable." That is to say,
Afro-Pessimism is both an epistemological and an ethical project, and these two
tributaries of thought converge in the carefully navigated stream of consciousness
whose abstraction enables a theorem of political ontology deduced or derived from the
cutting edge of black studies: that infinitely narrowing margin of practical-theoretical
activity that provides us with weapons. Wilderson once more: If, when caught between
the pincers of the imperative to meditate on Black dispossession and Black political
agency, we do not dissemble, but instead allow our minds to reflect on the murderous
ontology of...slavery's gratuitous violenceseven hundred years ago, five hundred years
ago, two hundred years ago, last year, and today, then maybe, just maybe, we will be
able to think Blackness and agency together in an ethical manner (143, emphasis added). [16]
There is no rejection of the notion of agency in advance, but rather an endeavor to think rigorously about its conditions of
possibility. The procedure involves the abstraction of a conceptual framework regarding structural positionality, a
methodology regarding paradigmatic analysis, and a structure of feeling regarding the politics of antagonism that, taken
together, remain implicit in the work of various luminaries of black studies but whose full effects only become available
when rendered explicit and approached from another angle or raised to another level of theorization. That is the enabled
In a sense, Afro-Pessimism is not an intervention
task and, by and large, it still remains before us now.
so much as it is a reading, or meta-commentary, on what we seem to do with, or how we
relate to, what black creative intellectuals continue to generate without being able to
bring fully into account. It is a reading of what is gained and lost in the attemptthe
impulseto delineate the spatial and temporal borders of anti-blackness, to delimit the
"bad news" of black life, to fix its precise scope and scale, to find an edge beyond or
before which true living unfolds. It is an attempt to resist that centrifugal force that
overwhelms us like fear or exhausts us like fatigue.
Our analysis of racialized education goes beyond just an analysis
and is a prior question to any solvency mechanism
Michael J. Dumas 2014, Michael J. Dumas is an Assistant Professor at the
University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the
African American Studies Department. Losing an arm: schooling as a site of
black suffering, Race Ethnicity and Education,
What I am attempting to do here is open up a theoretical and empirical space to explore the meaning of tough times (as
Hollingsworths son described them) in a range of sites of educational policy and practice, as we fumble about earnestly,
Informed by a theory of
but at times disingenuously, for ways to address persistent racial inequities.
suffering, our analysis moves beyond simply acknowledging racism, or
bemoaning racially imbalanced outcomes, to deeper social explanation of how
racialized subjects make meaning of the confluence of school malaise and racial
melancholia. Although I certainly consider implications of a theory of suffering for policy analysis and the
cultural politics of education, that is not my primary interest here. The study of suffering does not
necessarily offer an answer to the question, So what? It is (enough) to make empirical 4 M.J. Dumas
Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 15:40 29 January 2016 and theoretical space for attention to loss, to
meditate on what it means to experience disregard and lack and betrayal. I begin here by exploring social suffering as a
theoretical concept and field of social analysis. Then, after some brief methodological and historical-contextual notes
about the Seattle study, I present extended narratives of four (out of approximately 30) research participants a
renowned retired principal, a current vice principal with decades of experience in the district, and two longtime community-
based education activists. My
analysis of these narratives highlights how these school and
community leaders reflect on the meaning of black suffering in schools, what they
understand as the source of that suffering, and how they imagine that suffering
might be alleviated. Finally, in a postscript, I offer a memory of my own experience in a desegregating school in
Seattle, with recommendations for research at the nexus of race, education and social suffering.

The debate space is key to addressing these racialized issuesit has

a greater internal link to closing the education gap
SHANARA ROSE REID-BRINKLEY, Oct 2015, Dr. Shanara Reid-Brinkley is
an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of
The attempts at educational reform are not limited to institutional actors such as
the local, state, and federal governments. Non-profit organizations dedicated to
alleviating the black/white achievement gap have also proliferated. One such
organization, the Urban Debate League, claims that Urban Debate Leagues have proven to increase
literacy scores by 25%, to improve grade-point averages by 8 to 10%, to achieve high school graduation rates of nearly
100%, and to produce college matriculation rates of 71 to 91%. The UDL program is housed in over fourteen American
cities and targets inner city youths of color to increase their access to debate training. Such training of
defined as at risk is designed to offset the negative statistics associated with black
educational achievement. The program has been fairly successful and has received wide scale media attention.
The success of the program has also generated renewed interest amongst
college debate programs in increasing direct efforts at recruitment of racial and
ethnic minorities. The UDL program creates a substantial pool of racial minorities with debate training coming out
The debate community serves
of high school, that college debate directors may tap to diversify their own teams.
as a microcosm of the broader educational space within which racial ideologies are operating.
It is a space in which academic achievement is performed according to the
intelligibility of ones race, gender, class, and sexuality. As policy debate is intellectually
rigorous and has historically been closed to those marked by social difference, it offers a unique opportunity to engage the
impact of desegregation and diversification of American education. How are black students integrated into a competitive
educational community from which they have traditionally been excluded? How are they represented in public and media
discourse about their participation, and how do they rhetorically respond to such representations? If racial ideology is
perpetuated within discourse through the stereotype, then mapping the intelligibility of the stereotype within public
discourse and the attempts to resist such intelligibility is a critical tool in the battle to end racial domination.

The judge should assume the role of an anti-ethical decision maker

all other ethical paradigms are rooted in an anti-black conception of
the human
Tommy J. Curry 13, Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, In the Fiat
of Dreams: The Delusional Allure of Hope, the Reality of Anti-Black Violence and
the Demands of the Anti-Ethical.
In short, Black ethical deliberation is censored so that it can only engage moral questions by
asserting that whites are virtuous and hence capable of being ethically persuaded towards
right action, hence all ethical question about racism, white supremacy and anti-Blackness is
not about how Blacks think about the world, but what possibility the world allows Blacks to
contemplate under the idea of ethics. These ethics, the ethics that result from this vitiated morality, are not
arbiters of oppression at all. They are not a rational calculus that is capable of revealing a
categorical imperative, rather they function as the Kantian constraints upon human
experience; the synthetic apriori upon which the phenomena of whiteness is the
landscape of thinking about Blackness under the Western anthropos. There is an implicit appeal
to a hierarchy of being that is both empirical and universalall man is superior to non-man. Hence, ethics
emerges as the product of the overrepresentation of Western man thinking itself
projecting itselfinto the future. These ethics, theorized away from the anti-Blackness not
within it, only uphold an overdetermined virtue of whiteness. They hold within them no actual
delineation between good or bad, only a Puritanical call to reason to turn its attention towards the other-ed created. This
attention however relies on the perceptions and caricatures of Black torment that appeal
to the whites self-assuring imagining of themselves, so that even when confronted with
racism and their role as whites thinking about Black people incarcerated within a racist
society and dying, these whites can claim that their conceptualization of racism itself, or
(inter-sectionally) next to other injustices like poverty, sexism, homophobia, etc. makes
them (whites) virtuous. It is the process of, the appeal to, getting whites to recognize
(racist) oppression that allows the destruction of reality, Black death, to continue unabated,
since it is the exact moment that whites are forced to engage racist problems in America, be it
the anti-Black violence of American society, which animates the aversion of the justice
system, the police state, the white citizenry, or the practice of American democracy itself
where the death of Black people/criminals/deviants/thugs remain normal and justified by
whitesthat they, the white(s) thinking about racism, get to impose upon Black reality, a
racist moral maxim, namely that racism is not death and beyond the end of--ethical calculus
or moral evaluation, but ultimately contingent in America and of measurable consequence so
much so that must be weighed next to the other democratic values that preserve this great
white society: security, safety, individuality, property, profit, and freedom, the very values
that when enacted by whites continue to perpetuate one ultimate end, the death of Blacks.
Racism is not unethical simply because it is a moral affront to the allegedly generalizable Western/white/enlightenment
notion of humanity extended to Blacks by the liberal synonymy of citizenship. Racism is unethical, immoral, because it re-
presentsmakes known in the present and acts to capture the Blacks urging the acknowledgment of racism in the
ontological entity of modernitys greatest oppressionthe slave; the non-human. To say racism is unethical is to say that
it is outside of ethical deliberation, which is to say what is meant by ethics meant to rationally determine relationships
between human beings. Because racism exposes the absurdity of Western ontologys suggestion that the white/European
human stands in moral obligation towards the non-human/Black/racialized other created by the Western notion of MAN,
calling for ethical deliberation is a call to make the historical event of Black inhumanity introduced by modernity the
referent of white rationalizations about Black death, and anti-Blackness. Such deliberation only offers the white mind the
opportunity to reassert the social boundaries constraining Black life conceptually. It is the memory of slavery, which
motivates the whites attachment to the contingency of Black life, and ultimately concludes that racism, while unfortunate,
is/was necessary for America/the West, the world to exist and humanity/the citizen to reach its historical/imperial apex.
Thus, MAN, the onto-anthropological basis of humanity and the cultural values that are
simultaneously birthed to project humanity into existence is the origin of the oppressive
conceptualizations of the other. Oppression as is was born out of and sustained by the
exclusive morality of white/Western humanity against the barbarism imposed on the
Black/African. As such, the nigger born of racism is behind all oppressions, since it is the
cultural/epistemological/historical ethicthe moral rock bottom of dehumanization. The
oppressed is made nigger through dehumanization; the product of absolute debasement, while morality/virtue the
valuations of ethics itself is reified perpetually by the activity of whiteness; its perpetual commanding of morality to
conform to and justify their existence as the human. As Karen Gange writes in On the Obsolesce of Disciplines (2007),
The shift out of our present conception of Man, out of our present World Systemthe one that places people of African
descent and the ever-expanding global, transracial category of the homeless, jobless, and criminalized damned as the
zero-most factor of Other to Western Mans Selfhas to be first and foremost a cultural shift, not an economic one.
such a rupture in our conception of being human is brought forth, such sociological
concerns as that of the vast global and local economic inequalities, immigration, labor
policies, struggles about race, gender, class, and ethnicity, and struggles over the
environment, global warming, and distribution of world resources, will remain status quo.
Anti-ethics; the call to demystify the present concept of man as illusion, as delusion, and as
stratagem, is the axiomatic rupture of white existence and the multiple global oppressions like
capitalism, militarism, genocide, and globalization, that formed the evaluative nexus which
allows whites to claim they are the civilized guardians of the worlds darker races. It is the
rejection of white virtue, the whites axiomatic claim to humanity that allows the Black, the darker world to sow the seeds
of consciousness towards liberation from oppression. When white (in)humanity is no longer an obstacle weighed against
the means for liberation from racism, the oppressed are free to overthrow the principles that suggest their paths to
liberation are immoral and hence not possible. To accept the oppressor as is, the white made manifest in empire, is to
transform white western (hu)man from semi-deitous sovereign citizen to contingent, mortal, and un-otherable.
Exposing the inhumanity of white humanity is the destruction/refusal of the disciplinary
imperative for liberal reformism and dialogue as well as a rejection of the social
conventions that dictate speaking as if this white person, the white person and her white
people before you are in fact not racist white people, but tolerablenot like the racist
white people abstracted from reality, but really spoken of in conversations about racism.
The revelatory call, the coercively silenced but intuitive yearning to describe the actual reality set before Black people in
an anti-Black society, is to simply say there is no negotiating the boundaries of anti-Blackness or the horizons of white
supremacy. Racism, the debasement of melaninated bodies and nigger-souls, is totalizing. But such a reality can never
be spoken or written about without fear. In
order to preserve the possibility of being recognized by
whites, be it as citizen-not-terrorist or as a scholar, colleague, human-not-angry-nigger,
the Black philosopher, Blackened person must offer to whites vindication
acknowledgement that he recognizes and will speak of-write about whites as having the
potentiality for virtue. The revolutionary activity, if that is how we understand the efforts
to change the material-physical relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor,
making ones individual assertion of white inhumanitythe local act of critiquereal and
socially transformative beyond the dialogical (conversations between colleagues, within
a discursive space, or disagreements between critics), is not convincing the white
subject in dialogue with, the supposed rational ethical subject, that they-it can potentiality
to be different, or better. This is a dead end appeal over-determined by trying to win over, be recognized by,
the white subject. The revolutionary activity is to demonstrate as a matter of ontology (this is whiteness as is) that
whiteness is irredeemable. In
relativizing Western MAN, showing the ethnoclass limitation of
Europes cultural invention, Black humanity is freed to begin thinking itself anew without
the fear of falling into mimicry. In short, seeing whites as they are is the proof that Black
consciousness has shifted our present conception of man and has found a new
teleological/cultural orientation; an endarkening path towards a new humanity.

Schools are just another site of anti-black suffering, black children

are under and misrepresented all while being surveilled and policed
at every turn
Michael J. Dumas et al 16, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education, JOSEPH DERRICK NELSON, visiting
assistant professor of educational studies at Swarthmore College and a senior
research fellow with the Center for the Study of Boys and Girls Lives
(Re)Imagining Black Boyhood: Toward a Critical Framework for Educational
Research, http://hepgjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.17763/0017-8055.86.1.27
If children in general are materially vulnerable, and their perspectives and social worlds
seldom acknowledged in public and policy discourse, it is no surprise that Black children
are among the most invisible, the most under- represented and misrepresented, of all.
Beginning in slavery, Black boys and girls were imagined as chattel and were often put
to work as young as two and three years old (King, 2005). Subjected to much of the same
dehumanization suffered by Black adults, Black children were rarely perceived as being worthy of playtime and were
severely punished for exhibiting normal childlike behaviors. We
contend that this imagination of Black
children still holds. Under neo- liberal education reform (Au, 2008; Lipman, 2011), policy
makers and the general public have privileged Black educational attainment (as narrowly
assessed by high-stakes test scores) and zero-tolerance surveillance (Nolan, 2011) over
and above Black childrens happiness and creative exploration of themselves and their
social worlds. In short, Black boys and girls are imagined not as real children but as
suspect Black bodies for whom the broader public need have little compassion or
connection. For example, in October 2015 a white police officer in a South Carolina high school violently ipped a
Black student out of her desk and dragged her across the room in front of her classmates (Lacour, 2015). As the video
went viral, and even as the of cer was red, public debate centered on the extent to which the childs misbehavior made
her culpable for the violent assault by the officer. Although it is difficult to prove that a white child would not have been
subjected to this same kind of brutal treatment, we suggest that white children are not under such heavy police
surveillance as Black children; nor is it as likely that we would witness similar defenses of such dehumanizing treat- ment
against a white child (Young, 2015). This
lack of public patience for Black childrens (childlike)
insubordination is seemingly justified by the outcome of the last two presidential
campaigns. Shortly after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, a number of
commentators across the political spectrum began to insist that the election of the
nations first Black president meant that Black childrenand particularly Black boys
now had no excuses for misbehavior or low academic achieve- ment (Reed & Louis,
2009), because his election should signal to these children that there were no longer any
barriers to their success and that racism was no longer a burden they had to bear. This
argument was and is troubling, first of all, because it suggests that racial barriers are
principally psychological rather than material and ideological. This no excuses
discourse suggests that Black people have had little reason to complain all along, or at
least not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and then dismisses
the genuine suffering and malaise experienced by Black children in schools, as if
children just need to bear the burden of it all without complaint, without faltering (Bourdieu &
Champagne, 1999; Dumas, 2014). We do not mean to suggest that schooling is only misery and drudgery for Black
children. However, no excuses has become our collective public response to these children, particularly for Black boys
who act out in response to their mistreatment by school adults. Rigid gender norms and the unimag- inability of Black
boys as children compound to delegitimize these boys right to experience fear or anger or sadness, to be anything but
tough. In doing so, researchers, educators, and policy makers fail to adequately acknowledge
that schooling becomes a site of suffering for too many young Black boys. Davis (2008) contends:
For many of them, schools ignore their aspirations, disrespect their ability to learn, fail to
access and cultivate their many talents, and impose a restrictive range of their options.
Within this overwhelming oppressive schooling context, too many Black boys simply give
upbeaten by school systems that place little value on who they are and what they
offer. (p. 533) Unfortunately, our inability or unwillingness to see Black boys as children leads us to blame them rather
than ask what we can do to address the pain and isolation they feel. To the extent that Black childhood is unimagined
and worse, unimagi- nableBlack children become responsible for their own school failures, regardless of maldistribution
of economic and educational resources (Anyon, 1997, 2005; Noguera, 2003). The cultural discourse, as exempli ed by the
no- excuses response to President Obamas election, focuses more on the individual choices Black children make, even
as elementary school students, rather than on their vulnerability to inequitable social and economic policy or racism.
With regard to Black boys, the public and even scholars, to some degree, become
preoccupied with order and discipline, paying minimal or no attention to boys
experiences of play or peer friendships or caring. Black boys become little more than
apprentice men (Luttrell, 2012, p. 189) and, as such, cannot blame the structure of
racism or urban political economy for their condition or for their low educational
outcomes. Childhood itself must be put aside, and these boys must become men.

School is a liminal space where black youth are dehumanized

Michael J. Dumas et al 16, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education, JOSEPH DERRICK NELSON, visiting
assistant professor of educational studies at Swarthmore College and a senior
research fellow with the Center for the Study of Boys and Girls Lives
(Re)Imagining Black Boyhood: Toward a Critical Framework for Educational
Research, http://hepgjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.17763/0017-8055.86.1.27
Ann Arnett Fergusons (2001) ethnography, Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity, does capture
the worldviews and lived experiences of elementary schoolage Black boys. However, the focus is on how
Troublemakers construct meaning around their academic performance and identities within the context of school
suggests, once again, that the public interest in Black boys
discipline policies and practices. This
lives is usually related to some anxiety about their perceived maladaptive bad boy
behaviorsnot because we are particularly interested in the pain or insecurities they
may be experiencing as children but because of our preoccupation with Black males
having a jail cell with [their] name on it (Ferguson, 2001, p. 1), making them the
embodiment of lawlessness and violence. In research and in public discourse, the cultural signification of
Black male anticipates and preconstructs crisis in the lives of young Black boys. It privileges problems and prevention
efforts (Carey, 2015; Jackson, Sealey-Ruiz, & Watson, 2014; Watson, Sealey-Ruiz, & Jackson, 2014) and pushes aside
other desires expressed by Black boys in their social worlds. Even when researchers focus on the academic, social, and
emotional strengths of Black males, what they count as strengths are those skills and attributes that will improve success
in higher education or the world of work. Thus, there is little imaginative space in Black male research for the exploration
of creativity or friendships or play (Chu, 2014; Way, 2013). These are not things that Black males, as dis- cursively
constructed, (need or get to) do. In some sense, of course, all children are impacted by this erosion of childhood
(Polakow, 1992). However,
young Black males are uniquely affected by this preoccupation
with later success because of public fears that, without extreme intervention, they will
either be a danger to, or an economic drain on, society. Here, then, the raced and
gendered preconstruction of Black male contributes to greater scrutiny of Black boys
own desires and creative expressions as somehow in conflict with achievement and
social mobility. One of the priorities in Black male education research is identifying
findings that will lead to actionable recommendations for school practice. Of course, crisis-
centered research questions and theoretical lenses lead to proposals that focus on stemming perceived and anticipated
crises, and the authors of these studies may not intend for their research to be applied in work with younger children. Yet,
all we have is the discursive Black males, and inevitably then, since we have no imagination of Black boys that is distinct
from what is over- signi ed by this term, practitioners and policy makers make reference to this literature in discussions of
interventions at the elementary level and even in early childhood education programs. This research alerts us to
challenges Black boys may face later in life; it tells us little about their lives now or what we need to do to address their
needs as children. The difficulty in locating a place for Black boys in education research is due to a cultural-political
anxiety about adult Black males that offers a very narrow time frame for childhood, which then informs the treatment of
Black boys in educational settings. As Gloria Ladson-Billings (2011) notes, The paradox of Black boys experiences in
school and society is that mainstream perceptions of them vacillate between making them babies and making them men
(p. 10). She theorizes that when Black boys are very young, they are infantilized, regarded as adorable but not
necessarily intelligent or capable. While all chil- dren may be infantilized to some extent, it is Black boys who are most
likely to be associated with apes, particularly in the white imagination. Thus, this is a kind of infantilization unique to Black
boys, one in which they are not merely treated as babies (of the human sort) but are also imagined as (unpredictably) wild
and limited in their educability. Similarly, Ferguson (2001) contends that as early as the second or third grade, Black boys
are criminalized, which, like adulti cation, acts to construct Black boys as a problem and threat in need of control and
ensures that their transgressions are made to take on a sinister, intentional, fully conscious tone that is stripped of any
element of childish nai vete (p. 83). Although research on Black males can counter this tendency to criminalize or adultify
Black male students, unless scholars are equally vigilant in examining Black boyhood, we may be complicit in reinforcing
And worseto the extent that Black males of
this perception of school-age Black males as already men.
all ages are dehumanized, even manhood may not be fully available. This places Black boys
and adolescents in this liminal space: certainly not children but accorded none of the
legitimacy or regard of those with adult status, only the culpability. Thus, the adultification
of Black male children and youth, as documented in the literature, is no guarantee of
social or human recognition. However, we are not nai ve. It is precisely because of a long history of subjugation
of, and societal disrespect toward, Black men that scholars and activists have been so attentive to ensuring that Black
boys have clear pathways to manhood. Indeed, boy has long been a stinging, racist insult hurled at Black men,
regardless of age or status. To the extent that schooling is preparation for the rest of ones life, it becomes a site for
researchers to interrogate how the culture of schools and the practices of administrators and teachers facili- tate or
impede the development of Black boys into men. We caution that, at times, the boys into men discourse can devolve
into a defense of a patriar- chal Black masculinity (Cose, 2002) in which the aim is to train up particu- lar kinds of Black
men who can reclaim their rightful position at the head of the Black family and community (Collins, 2005; hooks, 1981).
From this view, boyhood can become not only a waste of time but also a threat to a cer-
tain (masculinist) notion of Black upward mobility. A critical intervention is needed, one
that neither prescribes nor romanticizes a xed notion of Black male identity but that
instead privileges how Black boys imagine and express their own senses of self.

Schooling is used to rob the black body of their subject and

assimilate them into the whiteness of civil society
Ebony O. McGee 13, assistant professor of diversity and urban schooling in the
Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University
High-Achieving Black Students, Biculturalism, and Out-of-School STEM
Learning Experiences: Exploring Some Unintended Consequences, Vanderbilt
Educators have long suggested that acculturationthe process of learning or adapting
to a new culturemight lead to a partial rejection ones own ethnicity or race and
adopting the dominant culture (Nguyen & Benet-Martin ez, 2007). The historical view of
Black students who are academically successfully is often based on the notion that
successful Black students must extend their cultural identity imitate at one end of the
spectrum and internalize mainstream White identity and behavior at the other endto
achieve the best learning outcomes, essentially, they need to become bicultural or even
raceless (Fordham, 1988, 1996). Researchers who study biculturalism have long argued that when Blacks and other
marginalized students develop bicultural identities and/or competencies they are more successful academically, or, at the
very least, they master the dominant culture, which allows them to negotiate the school experience more successfully
(Anzaldua, 1999; LaFromboise et al., 1993). This process requires knowledge of the language, personality characteristics,
and patterns of social behavior of at least two distinct cultural groups (Scherman, 2010), and the ability to operate and in-
teract in both cultures without relating to either in a hierarchical manner (LaFromboise, Berman, & Sohi, 1994). In sum,
being bicultural is said to allow a person to negotiate two cultures and to know which culture is better to embrace in
particular contexts. Research on biculturalism frequently presupposes that bicultural individuals internalize and make use
ez, Lee, & Leu, 2006; Phinney,
of their two cultures seamlessly, uniformly, and with little internal conflict (Benet-Martin
2003; Tadmor & Tetlock, 2006). African American students are presented as behaving in ways that are predominantly
identified with being Black (e.g., speaking Ebonics, playing basketball, wearing pants that sag) and are schooled to
adopt behaviors and competencies deemed acceptable within White culture as a key to gaining or maintaining academic
achievement (Diemer, 2007; Oyserman, Brickman, & Rhodes, 2007). However,
there appears to be little
room within the U.S. education system for Black students to exhibit their own culture
without being subject to misrecognition, misunderstanding, and disciplinary sanctions
(Good, Dweck, & Aronson, 2007; Maryshow, Hurley, Allen, Tyler, & Boykin, 2005).
Students cul- tural assets are frequently misrecognized (George, 2012; Walshaw,
2011), causing Black students to be misidentified as deficient in their level of learning,
language, ideologies, and practices (Hand & Taylor, 2008; Malloy & Malloy, 1998; Martin, 2007, 2009).
Misunderstandings occur when authority figures interpret Black childrens behavior as anti-school and self-defeatingat
Managing the
worst, they are seen as prisoners in waiting (Alexander, 2010; Noguera, 2003; Smith, 2009).
classroom has become more important than focusing on learning, and Black students
are sanctioned more often than their White counterparts for many types of behavior
(Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010; Thomas, Coard, Stevenson, Bent- ley, & Zamel, 2009). These multiple forms
of educational and social oppression have a deleterious impact on the learning and
classroom participation of Black students in the mathematics classroom (Martin, 2012). Having
a bicultural identity or adopting bicultural competencies in the edu- cation context is based on the notion that African
American students fare best by learning how to operate properly within the dominant White cultural milieu. Bicultural
competence has been described as being able to balance multiple expe- riences (dominant and non-dominant forms of
cultural capital) and to negotiate different physical and racial borders without compromising the essence of ones
home/cultural identity. Carter (2006) defines the term cultural straddlers as Afri- can American students who operate
biculturally in high school. Carter differenti- ates cultural straddlers from cultural mainstreamers; the former group
embraces their own cultural and racial identity, whereas the latter group appears to be fully assimilated into White culture
and ideology. Cultural straddlers are also different from non-compliant believers, who reject the premise of straddling two
cultures and prefer to operate almost exclusively within their own cultural and racial iden- tity. Black students who adopt a
bicultural identity and become cultural straddlers are said to embrace and value of both cultures and to negotiate across
them with ease. They use both non-dominant and dominant forms of cultural capital to nego- tiate the education system.
Therefore, cultural straddlers are considered to be best positioned to maintain academic success. Phinney and Devich-
Navarro (1997) suggest that biculturalism is a way for Blacks to manage racism, achieve academ- ically, and maintain a
strong sense of group identity. Carter (2006) reasons that a bicultural identity enables Black students to overcome racially
hostile environ- ments. Grounded in research conducted over a hundred years ago (e.g., Du Bois, 1903/2003; Woodson,
1933/2006), contemporary researchers have vacillated be- tween the notion that marginalized students overwhelmingly
practice bicultural- ism and that to the degree that they experience identity confusion, racism, classism, sexism, and other
forms of marginalization, they are forced to conform to a dominant U.S. identity, sometimes at the expense of their original
ethnic identity (Harris & Marsh, 2010). An opposing view of biculturalism dismisses the notion that it is
a healthy fusion of two identitiesthe ethnic/home cultural identi- ty and the dominant
mainstream identityand highlights the fact that some stu- dents sacrifice their ethnic
identities in order to achieve academically and pro- gress through the education system. For
example, some researchers (e.g., Rudmin, 2003; Vivero & Jenkins, 1999) have reported that biculturalism can be
maladap- tive, leading to stress, isolation, and anxiety due to constant pressure to choose between being more like the
dominant culture or true to ones own ethnicity. Rowley and Moore (2002) note that biculturalism could lead to identity
confusion and a sense of resentment toward feeling obliged to operate in two cultures, with the dominant mainstream
culture viewed as the ideal. Moreover, researchers who study African American racial identity recognize the
contextualized ways identity and race often operate, which may complicate notions of adopting White main- stream
culture as a path to achieving academic and career success (Rowley, & Sellers, 1998; Sellers, Morgan, & Brown, 2001;
Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998). In their research on the biculturalism and academic achieve- ment of
African American high school students, Rust, Jackson, Ponterotto, and Blumberg (2011) determined that cultural identity
and academic self-esteem are important factors for academic achievement, but that biculturalism is not. Similar- ly, Black
high school students who perceive a conflict between their second-class racialized status and their high academic
achievement may experience internal strife (McGee, 2013a). However, as Schwartz and Unger (2010) suggest, in some
situations and contexts it may make the most sense for students to behave and think in ways that are consistent with the
dominant culture. Other theorists have investigated the relevance of racial/cultural identity in unpacking the academic
achievement of African American students (e.g., Du Bois, 1903/2003; Arroyo & Ziegler, 1995; Murrell, 2009; Nasir,
McLaughlin, & Jones 2009). McGee and Martin (2011) provides evidence that Black STEM college stu- dents can be high
achievers in their respective fields but often at a high psycho- logical cost, due to racial stereotyping and other forms of
bias. Therefore,
adopt- ing a bicultural identity may not be enough to enable high-
achieving students to fend off negative racial stereotypes fueled by inequitable
academic, environmen- tal, and social conditions as they attempt to survive in an
education system that perpetuates an ideology of racial inferiority (Warmington, 2009). The
literature on the mathematics education of African American high school students is still large- ly silent about what
happens to students who succeed academically in mathemat- ics and mathematics related fields using a bicultural
strategy to negotiate their success.

Education reform masks the structural issue of anti-blackness in

education, schools are nothing more than a site for black subjugation
and gratuitous violence
Michael J. Dumas 17, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education Things Are Gonna Get Easier: Refusing
Schooling as a Site of Black Suffering, HuffPo,
In fact, our nation has been just fine with not providing educational opportunities for
Black people since the very beginning. During the years of chattel slavery, it was illegal
in many places to teach a Black person to read or write, and countless Black people
were killed, or had their fingers chopped off as punishment for learning anyway. When
Black people began to build schools, white people often burned them to the ground. And
for the past 100 years, federal and state legislators, local officials, and predominantly white
citizens groups have used various strategies to ensure that Black children are deprived of
equitable education funding, and do not gain access to the more highly resourced public
schools their children attend. Beyond the systemic, intentional, and conniving efforts to
deprive Black people of education, Black children, parents, and teachers have long been
subject to anti-Black violence and harassment in schools. Of course, we can all recall the images from the
1950s-1970s of terrorizing white hordes in both Southern and Northern cities threatening, cursing, and spitting on Black
But this kind of anti-Black sentiment takes
children as they attempted to enter segregated white schools.
more subtle forms now: research demonstrates that Black students are more likely to be
punished than other students for the same infractions, and punished more harshly; Black
students are less likely to be considered for gifted and talented programs; curricula used
to teach Black children are unlikely to adequately or appropriately reflect Black history
and cultural contributions. Even so, the overt forms of anti-Black violence in schools are with us still. Just last
fall, a white sheriffs deputy in a South Carolina high school threw a Black girl from her desk onto the floor and dragged
her across the room in front of her classmates, after she refused to put her cell phone away. Taken togetherthe
inequitable distribution of educational resources and the continued mistreatment of Black children in schoolsserve as
painful evidence that schooling is a site of Black suffering. It is not that schooling is only a site of Black suffering.
However, I argue that it is the suffering of Black childrenmuch like the rodents and
decay in Detroit schoolsthat we are least likely to acknowledge, and worse, the most
likely to defend, either as what Black children deserve, or more kindly, as an unfortunate,
innocent consequence of racial and class inequality in the US. Black suffering in schools
is one manifestation of the anti-Blackness of our society, in which Black people are
viewed with disgust and disdain, as non-humans worthy of violence and death. In
schools, this anti-Blackness reveals itself first, in the deep-seated, but most often
unconscious belief that Black children are uneducablethat is, either biologically or
culturally unable to be educated. This might seem an outrageous claim, but it makes
more sense when you consider that research reveals that, in an anti-Black world, Black
children are more likely to be associated with primatesmonkeysthan are other
groups of children, and thus Black children are viewed as more violent, more uncontrollable,
and least able to grasp complex ideas. Uneducable. A problem. A waste of time and unworthy
of resources. Only as Black children and young people, and Black families and
communities begin to talk amongst themselves about their collective suffering in schools,
and come to understand it as connected to a long tradition of anti-Black violence, do
they come to realize, as Shoniqua Kemp in Detroit, that something has to change, one
way or another. Lawsuits are one way, but history suggests we are going to need more
than that. Students are also leading walkouts to protest various forms of Black suffering in schools. And before too
long, we may all need to lay our bodies in front of school buildings, at school board meetings, and in fancy ballrooms at
professional meetings of education researchers and policy makers. Just as Black Lives Matter protestors have closed
bridges, and disrupted holiday shopping, we may need to shut shit down for Black children in schools.

Schools reinforce the caste society sustaining anti-black violence

Clayton Pierce 17, assistant professor in Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary
Studies at Western Washington University, W.E.B. Du Bois and Caste
Education: Racial Capitalist Schooling From Reconstruction to Jim Crow,
Western Washington University,
For Du Bois, schools played a central role in preserving the caste society established in the
colonial- plantation period. After the fall of the old caste system based on slave codes, a
type of reconstruction took place, according to Du Boisone in which the public school
became a primary place where the racial privileges of the white world and the
dehumanizing conditions the dark world were edu- cated into existence and the old
caste codes were dressed in new Jim Crow clothing. Du Boiss work on caste formation through
schooling underscores the dynamic and adaptive nature of caste control in U.S. society, which con- tinues today in the
school, prison, hyper-policed communities, court, hous- ing, and health systems (Alexander, 2010). With the application of
corporate turnaround tactics working in con- cert with city gentrification projects (Buras, 2014; Lipman, 2011), schools
have become tools of caste formation that create gated communities for children of privilege (Novak, 2014). In this
sense, Du Boiss caste analysis helps us understand what Ladson-Billings (2006) has called the ongoing educational
debt as a necessary byproduct of the inextricable projects of White supremacy and capitalist accumulation through
schooling. A
caste analysis of schools thus emphasizes the fact that there are no intentions
of ever paying off the educational debt in a racial capitalist society. Doing so would
mean the public schooling system ceasing to be one of the most important sites of caste
reconstruction necessary for producing racial and economic competition between the
White and non-White worlds.

Black social death is perpetuated by schooling black communities

are subjugated and taught only how to sustain whiteness
Clayton Pierce 17, assistant professor in Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary
Studies at Western Washington University, W.E.B. Du Bois and Caste
Education: Racial Capitalist Schooling From Reconstruction to Jim Crow,
Western Washington University,
We can see how such a condition of social death is perpetuated through schooling in states
like Pennsylvania where communities are fighting against conditions of disparity in
education resources [which] has created an educational caste system that the
Commonwealth must eliminate (Henderson, 2014). The gated communities for children of privilege
that have emerged in cities across the country are sites where an ontological value of life is being stamped on bodies and
populations through free market rationalizations that accompany choice and charter reorganizations. In a human
capital race to the top, where freedom is attained through property
acquisition/accumulation (affluent schools and the currency they pro- vide such as
advanced placement courses, better funding, lower classroom sizes, etc.), social life is
attached to Whiteness and social death is attached to Blackness in material ways
(Dumas, 2015b).

Black students dont have feasible access to educational

Michael J. Dumas 2014, Michael J. Dumas is an Assistant Professor at the
University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the
African American Studies Department. Losing an arm: schooling as a site of
black suffering, Race Ethnicity and Education,
Bourdieu is interested in schooling as a site of la petite misre in which poor
and working-class students
suffer a kind of malaise resulting from a growing consciousness that what they
are promised as educational opportunity is unlikely to lead to greater social or
educational mobility. As I explain here, for many black families, educators and activists, desegregation
and subsequent racial equity policies have become sites of a specific form of
school malaise, in which the possibility of educational access and opportunity
seems increasingly (and even intentionally) elusive, even as the hegemonic and
seemingly undeniable common sense is that schooling is the sure pathway to
improved life chances, not only for individual black subjects, but for the black collective (the race) as a whole.
This suffering converges with, and only exacerbates a broader racial melancholia, that heavy, deeply-felt awareness of
the history and persistence of anti-black disregard and subjugation (Eng and Han 2000; Tillet 2012). It is this confluence
of school malaise and racial melancholia, then, that motivates what I offer here as a meditation on schooling as a site of
black suffering. By this, I simply mean that my intention here is to give voice to that suffering, to present it as worthy of
solemn reflection and remembrance; this is not the space to detail policy interventions to mitigate present or future
suffering. Nor am I tempted here to either defend school desegregation or suggest it as a failed policy resulting (only) in
black suffering. I simply want to create a space in which to meditate on the idea that black people suffered, and suffered
dearly in the midst of our efforts to pursue a range of educational and racial reforms over the past half-century. More
provocatively, I want to suggest that
black suffering is a kind of constant travelling between
historical memory and current predicament, that there is a psychic link between
the tragedy of antebellum African bondage and post-civil rights (indeed, post-
racial) black suffering in schools. Like Dana in Butlers Kindred, black educators, children and families
are never quite sure when they will be taken (back) to this place of trauma, nor can they fully determine when, or if the
pain will end

The logic of school desegregation is the logic of anti-blackness. Both

try to assimilate and destroy the black subject, they just repackage in
a nice way
Michael J. Dumas 15, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education, 7.12.2015, Against the Dark:
Antiblackness in Education Policy and Discourse, Theory Into Practice
A similar narrative emerged as whites organized in opposition to school integration; anti-
Black racism was at least one primary cause 490 of white flight from school districts that
were ordered to desegregate (Kohn, 1996). In many cities, whites went to great lengths to
create districts or school-assignment plans that concentrated whites in the most heavily
resourced 495 schools, and relegated Black children to under- funded schools with less
experienced teachers and crumbling physical infrastructures (Dumas, 2011, 2014; Horsford,
Sampson & Forletta, 2013). 500 In short, school desegregation policy was precipitated by
antiblackness. However, school desegregation researchers are more likely to frame their analyses through the lenses
of access and diversity, emphasizing the educational 505 benefits of cross-cultural interaction and the importance of
providing more equitable allocation of educational resources (Orfield & Eaton, 1996; Orfield & Lee, 2004; Wells, 1995;
Wells, Duran & White, 2008). In contrast, theorizing 510 antiblackness in school desegregation policy shifts our focus to
interrogation of policies that led to the displacement of Black educators and the destruction of school communities which
Anti- blackness allows us to capture the depths of
affirmed Black humanity (Tillman, 2004).
suffering of Black children and educators in predominantly white schools, and connect
this contemporary trauma to the longue dure e of 520 slavery from bondage to its
afterlife in desegregating (and now resegregating) schools. And taking Sextons (2008) analysis of
multiracialism into account leads to a more nuanced and careful critique of how schools pit the academic success 525 of
(some) Asian American students against and above the academic difficulties of Black students. Here, schools can be
celebrated as diverse despite the absence of Black students in the building and/or in the higher academic tracks. 530
Ultimately, the Slave has no place in the most privileged and highly-regarded school spaces;
the Black becomes a kind of educational anachronism, not quite suited for our idealized
multi- cultural learning community.

Desegregating schools doesnt generate better achievement it only

results in an eradication of the black subject and a false hope in legal
Michael J. Dumas 13, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education, Losing an arm: schooling as a site of
black suffering, http://www.libs.uga.edu/reserves/docs/main-fall2016/freeman-
As black leaders and parents had long charged, black students are far more likely to be
disciplined than any other racial/ethnic group, and also receive longer suspensions. In
fact, black students are more than three times as likely to be suspended as white
students, beginning in elementary school and continuing through high school. We have a
serious problem here, the schools superin- tendent acknowledged. The data is clear that there is a disproportionate
number of students of color being suspended and expelled (Ervin and OHagan 2013). This recent federal investigation of
Seattle schools occurs roughly 40 years after the citys school board, fearing another federal investigation and possible
court intervention, implemented a mandatory district-wide racial desegregation strategy, called the Seattle Plan for the
Elimination of Racial Imbalance. The
racial imbalance in Seattle schools was created largely
through residential segregation that is, federal and local housing policies that
permitted, and even encouraged white residents to discriminate against people of color.
By the late 1960s, this led to a concentration of black residents in Seattles Central District and South end, as they were
As was true
largely unable to purchase or rent homes in most other parts of the city (Dumas 2011; Taylor 1994).
elsewhere in the US, schools serving black students were funded less equitably than
schools serving white students. These schools were less likely to have advanced
academic offerings, or proper school supplies and equipment, and more likely to have
overcrowded classrooms and facilities in need of repair (Dumas 2009; Fine 2002). The Seattle Plan,
which went into effect in fall of 1978, mandated a complex busing plan in which students in predominantly non-white areas
were bused to schools in the overwhelmingly white neighborhoods in the North end, and students from the North end
were bused to schools in the more racially diverse Central District and South end .
Although the Seattle Plan
was a hard-fought victory for civil rights activists, it soon became apparent that
desegregated schools did not necessarily mean improved educational opportunities for black
children and other children of color. White administrators and teachers were ill-prepared to
address the racial climate in their schools, and often failed to recognize or nurture the
academic abilities of black children. Also, as more white residents fled the city, or
enrolled their children in private schools, it became increasingly difficult to achieve racial
balance, particularly in the South end. Due to mounting political opposition to busing,
and waning support within commu- nities of color, the busing plan was largely
dismantled in the mid-1990s, and schools began to resegregate by race, and also, to
some extent, by class (Kohn 1996). In 2006 and 2007, I conducted ethnographic interviews with 30 black leaders,
educators and activists who had participated in the struggle for school desegregation, and more broadly, in the ongoing
effort to expand educational opportunities for black children in the city. My study occurred before the June 2007 US
Supreme Court ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1; here, the highest court of
the United States determined that the constitutional rights of white parents had been violated by school district policies
that sought to maintain racial diversity in the most selective high schools. In essence, Parents Involved made it illegal for
school officials to use race as a variable in school assignment, effectively removing this one last mechanism to counter
the housing desegregation that locked many poor and working class students of color out of the citys most highly-
resourced high schools, most of which are located in the neighborhoods in the North end and in the quickly gentrifying
Central District. The primary aim of my project was to capture how they imagined the trajectory of school desegregation
struggle in the post-Civil Rights Era, from the implementation of the Seattle Plan in the 1970s to the present. Most of the
interviews took the form of conversations, in which I asked them to share their stories and perspectives on school
desegregation, Seattles schools, black political engagement, the needs of black children, and the struggle for educational
justice. Although I began the study with the intention of primarily offering an analysis of the past, it soon became clear that
my participants viewed the past as so connected to the present and future fate of black children and communities that
they would move effortlessly from recounting events that occurred decades before to experi- ences from earlier in the
same week. Mostpoignantly, and without any prompting from me, nearly every participant
reflected on what Seattles black children and communities had suffered during the past 30
40 years, how black people had been undermined and exploited economically and politically,
and where a collective we had fallen short or misplaced our trust.
Citizenship is an obstacle, not a conduit, of black liberation, their
attempt to desegregate schools is a subtle attempt at assimilating
and destroying black subjectivity
Tommy J. Curry 15, Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, Back to the
Woodshop: Black Education, Imperial Pedagogy, and Post-Racial Mythology
Under the Reign of Obama,
Rather than it being a case of taking an ethical stand about the purpose and meaning of
public education and its crucial role in educat- ing students to participate in an inclusive
democracy (p. 50), as Gir- oux (2006) would have us believe, the task for Black people
remains unchanged as it concerns how BlacknessBlack knowledge, Black experience,
Black history is denatured and erased as the basis of educating Black people who
remain victims of the antidemocratic white rule that has been taken to be synonymous
with America as a free, independent democracy. From this perspective, citizenship remains
an obstacle to Black freedom and liberation, not the conduit of it. In stark contrast to the traditional
progressive vein of education theory, which relishes the contributions of John Deweys pragmatism and Jane Addamss
reformismtheories known for their depicting of education as a means to enhance the transformative and open
possibilities of citizenship and democracyKant offers a view of citizenship much more in line with the problems
confronting oppressed populations within empires. In Anthropology From a Pragmatic Point of View (1798/2006), Kant
quoted the old Brocardian dictum, Salus civitatis suprema lex esto (The well being of the state [not of the citizens] is the
highest law) as the basis of his political philosophy. Civil society emerges from the force, enforcement, of law, so it is
within the ethical power of the state to preserve itself and demand from its citizens the obedience and actions necessary
for that preservation (p. 236). Kants
understanding of citizenship, because it assumes the
colonial nature of states and racial difference, does a better job capturing the tensions
described by Giroux, as well as the his- torical paradox of racial repression Black
Americans continue to remain trapped within. Contrary to Girouxs reading of Du Bois within the classical
liberal tradition and his assertion that Du Bois was unaware of the media cul- ture and propagandist in ltration of
traditional pedagogy, I maintain, with the exception of technological advances, that Du Bois described, analyzed, and
castigated the imperialist historiography that Giroux now sees his work reacting against.
In a 1962 essay entitled
American Negroes and Africas Rise to Freedom, Du Bois argued that as [N]egroes
therefore slowly turned to a new ideal: to strive for equality as American citizens, [they]
learned from their environ- ment to think less and less of their fatherland and its folk.
They learned little of its history or its present conditions. They began to despise the
colored races along with white Americans and to acquiesce in color prejudice. (Du Bois,
1965, p. 334) With desegregation, and the promise of equality, that sacred ideal offered to Blacks
as a reward for their loyalty to the American state and its foreign endeavors was a Pyrrhic
victory. On the one hand, Blacks became citizens, but on the other, they became
complicit capitalistsduty-bound exploiters of the darker races abroad, but
impoverished at homea con- dition they hoped the political designation of citizenship
would slowly improve, raising them from laborer to capitalist owner. Du Bois under- stood the
super ciality of desegregation and recognized that Brown v. Board was the result of international geopolitical pressures
rather than a change in the moral conscience of whites. In short, no such decision would have been possible without the
world pressure of communism led by the Soviet Union (Du Bois, 1968, p. 333). Du Bois is even more adamant as to the
dangers of Brown v. Board. In
[w]hites in Africa after Negro Autonomy, Du Bois warned, We
may not delude ourselves into silence based on undoubted progress in American race
relations during the last 50 years culminating in a Supreme Court decision which is not
yet enforced, or on favors to Negroes in return for acquiescence in national polices
which continue to spell ruin for the colored peoples of the world. (Du Bois, 1996, p. 674) The
danger of citizenship was that it gave to Blacks a freedom to participate in Americas colonial
imperialist drive toward empire. It is this soft power (cultural) victory, which Du Bois (1965) commented on in his
1961 piece entitled American Negroes and Africas Rise to Free- dom, that not only legitimized the expansion of
Americas colonialism but took from Blacks their connection with Africa and the oppressed of the world. Severing the
cultural ties to Africa and embracing American- ism at the expense of Black consciousness was an ever-present danger
for Du Bois. Thesolidi cation of Americas neocolonial project, which transformed Blacks
historically deemed to be nothing more than property and lesser human beings to
American citizens, became an example to the darker world. Integrating Black people into
the American empire created the ideal manifold of order within the nation. Not unlike the
Roycean fixation on the white mans burden within the borders of America at the dawn of
the 20th century that insisted on the elimination of cultural difference and the diffusion of
racial solidarity among Blacks, the policy of integrationism mandated the deemphasizing
of Black racial and cultural distinctions as a means to sustain order and political
homogeneity amid racism and economic equality (Curry, 2009a; Royce, 1900). On the one hand, it is
precisely this idea of citizenship (loyal to the state and organization of society) that excluded Black peoples from the
alleged freedoms whites enjoyed and condemned Blacks as the property (enslaved chattel) of whites to dwell in America
as subhumans. Onthe other hand, however, it is precisely this mode of existence,
formulated in America, that created and nurtured notions of freedom rooted in ones
ability to own and treat Blacks, indigenous, and foreign peoples as nonhuman. It is this
historic contradiction, which now formulates the endless commodification of ideas, property, and politics by citizens, that
concerns Giroux and makes citizenship a quest for pro t instead of freedom in a system that offers little to no change for
the oppressed and marginalized. Instead of pretending that within empire there is true freedom, we should begin our
analyses with the historical and material realities that have been mystified by the rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and
equality. Thestrati cation of American society makes it impossible for citizenship to deliver
the promises of racial change hoped for by the civil rights movement. Black Americans,
like the indigenous populations before them, remain subject to the laws of history and
the effects of colonialism that have determined their current conditions. To pre- tend that
the condition Black Americans find themselves in, even with a Black president, is
freedom is to ultimately suggest that the lives of Black people, their suffering, is of no
consequence, asserting that what is of ultimate value is only that they can no longer be
called slaves.

The logic of integrationism is that of a post-racial America they

force the black body to commit racial suicide so they can assimilate
into a culture that is built in violent opposition to them
Tommy J. Curry 15, Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, Back to the
Woodshop: Black Education, Imperial Pedagogy, and Post-Racial Mythology
Under the Reign of Obama,
For the integrationist, the actual political and economic disparities be- tween whites and
Blacks are of far less concern because the focus is on the analytic categories dividing
the essential qualities between groups based on phenotype. From the integrationist point
of view, racism is rooted in consciousness, in the cognitive process that attributes social
significance to the arbitrary trait of skin color (Peller, 2012, p. 4), not the cyclical and
reemerging patters of marginalization, violence, and re- pression that seem to follow
racialized groups and their progeny from generation to generation. At the core of the
integrationist paradigm is its resistance to what it takes to be the irrationalism of
biological determinism, or the white supremacist myth structure that asserts natural
biological differences between Blacks and whitesthe familiar identi cation of whites
with intelligence, industriousness, and piousness, and the corresponding as- sociation of
Blacks with dullness, laziness, and lustfulness (p. 4). Integrationism resists the a priori
assertion that skin color determines civilization, but it makes no such condemnations toward
the racial stratications that manifest themselves a posteriori (i.e., socially or historical-ly that
we witness and are apparent through empirical observation). So although integrationists
may suggest that they are antiracist because they do not believe whites are biologically
or naturally superior to Blacks, this recognition does not extend to strati cations between
Blacks and whites that can be rationalized as the inability of Blacks to work hard enough
to rise to the level of their white counterparts. Integrationism asserts the power of agency
to triumph over history ideally. It has little concern for the sociological realities of racism
that limit the possible and, by effect, the value of abstract exercises of agency. Post-
racialism utilized a hyperintegrationist logic to sustain its decree. Integrationists comprehend racism at a high level of
abstraction in part because they wish to transcend the bias of particularity that they see as the root of racist
consciousness (Peller, 2012, pp. 56). To legitimate the journey and decades-long pursuit of racial equality, the
integrationist mobilizes symbols and cultural linkages with broader values of liberal thought, images that connect truth,
universalism, and progress (Peller, 2012, pp. 56). Despite its ineffectiveness in eliminating racism, post-racialism
attempts to cash in the romantic legacy of integration in this country and is surprisingly effective at mobilizing and
solidifying the anti-Black sen- timents of white Americans who remain intolerant and frustrated with accusations of racism
and the political aspirations of Blacks, Latino/as, Asians, and Indigenous peoples. The exhaustion of whites is of some
concern given the rise of white vig- ilantism, police violence, and legal assaults on the rights of Blacks under Obamas
reign, and it is an area in need of further research and survey in critical race literatures. While scholars in Black studies
and various eth- nic studies have developed accounts of white supremacy that consider the dynamics of racism under
Black rule, race-crits have lagged behind. Dylan Rodriguez (2010), for instance, offered an understanding of white
supremacy as a logic of social organization that produces regimented, institutionalized, and militarized conceptions of
hierarchized human difference, enforced through coercions and violence(s) that are con- ditioned by genocidal
possibility, including physical extermination and curtailment of peoples collective capacities to socially, culturally, or bio-
logically reproduce (p. 158). Rodriguez (2010) rightly pointed out that white supremacy is in constant flux, constantly
reshaping, notions of the white (European and Euroamerican) human-as-universal historical subject through both
militarized liquidations and neutralizations of (non-white) other humans, and multiple institutional incorporations and
empowerments of the white subjects/bodys racial antagonists (p. 158); I would only add that in this white supremacist
dynamic, the reorientation of normative values like freedom, justice, safety, etc., are translated through the dominant
figures and symbols that transmit cultural relevance and political acquiescence to these emergent regimes. In other
words, the dynamics of white supremacy produce new icons of identification and rhetoric to allow Blacks and other
racialized groups to accept and interpret the violence and deaths of their own as justified and necessary to racial
progress. This ongoing anti-Black violence marks a new theoretical complexity in critical race theory and by effect
demonstrates Rodriguezs (2010) point: The ascendance of the Obama administration signifies this complex tension
between universal (white) humanity, non-white subjection to logics of disposability/genocide, and multiculturalist
empowerment in continuity with the violence of the white supremacist state. White supremacy is historically characterized
by a periodic flexibility of phenotype (e.g. first black president as white supremacist nation-buildings moral/political
vindication) that is already determined by the structural durability of the social logics of racial dominance/violence. (p. 158)
his brief commentary on Anthony Farleys (1999) 8th Story: Illness and Its Interlocutors in Thirteen Stories, a piece that
brilliantly con- veys the romantic longing for acceptance attached to the quest for racial equality, Bell (2004) argued, In
our anxiety to identify, we are attracted to the obvious and the super cial, the least worthy characteristics of the dominant
group. It is that unconscious component of quest that give even hard-earned progress a mirage-like quality (p. 200). In a
tone simi- lar to Paul Robesons 1935 essay, NegroesDont Ape the Whites, a short essay urging Blacks to consider
that it is not as imitation Euro- peans, but as Africans, that we have a value (Robeson, 1978, p. 92), Bell urges readers
to think carefully about the consequences of identify- ing with the categories built on the historical and political template of
the white racial class. Bell recognized that our attempt to reproduce the pro t and power of whites, as if our participation in
Bells caution
the systems that birth inequity is in fact the finality of our struggle for equality, ultimately spells doom.
not only arrests our seemingly intuitive notions of equality but also allows us to see that
the markers of power, pro t, and citizenship denied to Blacks because of racism are not
in fact the substance of humanity, but the arti ces used to deny that other racial groups
are in fact human. This concern is not unlike that of W. E. B. Du Bois in his reflections on
school desegregation and the burgeoning shift toward a policy of integration coming
about in the 1960s. On April 1, 1960, W. E. B. Du Bois addressed the Association of
Social Science Teachers concerning the future of Black education under inte- gration.
Adamant that Black knowledge and history must be preserved, Du Bois (1975) argued,
We Negroes have got to inculcate in the minds of our children many objects to which
white America today is not only opposed, but bitterly ghts (p. 49). Predicting that the
anti-Black senti- ment of his day would only grow into an institutionalized and the cul-
turally salient disposition toward Blacks of our day following the expan- sion of U.S.
imperialism, Du Bois eerily anticipated the moralism of the post-racialist era. Du Bois
(1975) saw that integration had made it such that Any statement of our desire to develop
American Negro culture, to keep our own ties with colored peoples, to remember our past, is
regarded as racism (p. 47). Instead of equality offering the substance of racial opportunity, the capacity to determine
and develop aspirations of a people, citizenship was repressive and fraught with attempts to control and erase Black
culturalisms as the criterion for Black inclusion into the American public. Du Bois observed that we are definitely
approaching now a time when the American Negro will become in law equal in citizenship to other Ameri- cans. . . . Yet,
this situation is in sight, and it brings not, as many assume, an end to the so-called Negro problem. . . . We must now ask
ourselves when we become equal American citizens, what will be our aims and ideals, and what will we have to do with
the selecting of these aims and ideals. Are we to assume that we would simply adopt the ideals of Americans, and
That would mean that we
become what they are or want to be? Will we have in this process no ideals of our own?
would cease to be Negroes as such and become whites in action, if not completely in color. (Du
Bois, 1975, p. 46) Similar to the problems that occupied Derrick Bell toward the end of his life and Robeson during his
travels throughout Asia, Du Bois recognized that the education of Black people, specifically Black youth, must be
deliberately geared not only to the preservation of Black history but also to the recognition of the inability of American-
white-European political categories to adequately express the degree of political freedom necessary to deliver Black
liberation. Mimicry
of our oppressors, instead of innovation and the pursuit of our own
particular ideals, would ultimately lead to the end of Black people. Du Bois (1975)
warned that through imitation, We would take our culture from white Americansdoing
as they do and thinking as they think. Manifestly, this would not be satisfactory. . . . We
would lose our memory of Negro history, and of those racial peculiarities with which we
have been long associated. We would cease to acknowledge any greater tie with Africa
than with England or Germany. . . . [And] thus solve our racial problem in America by
committing racial suicide. (p. 46) Du Bois articulates a powerful re ective attitude on race conscious- ness that is
not reducible to mere politics. Du Bois argued that without the sense of incongruity, the exteriority Black people inhabit as
a function of anti-Blackness, Black people would seek to reproduce the decadent humanity and values that white
civilization has used to rationalize its tyr- anny toward racial others as democracy. In
seeking equality and
freedom in the anthropologythe theories of humanityoffered by white civili- zation,
Black people confine themselves to the dehumanizing character of the white race. Carter
G. Woodson actually spoke to this reflective incongruity in a previously lost manuscript written in 1921. Many philosophers
of education and race-critics do not know that Carter G. Woodson wrote a book before The Miseducation of the Negro
entitled Appeal in 1921. In this manuscript, Woodson concerned himself with the changes and reflective faculties
developed by the Black race in their persistent struggles for freedom. In his aptly titled chapter What the Negro Is
Thinking, Woodson offers an extremely relevant discus- sion to the conversations and debates over social equality in the
early 1900s that resonate with the problems presented by post-racialist ideology. Responding to the argument advanced
by whites that Blacks would be more deserving of social equality once they have been adequately elevated from their
previous state of ignorance, Woodson (1921/2008) remarked that improvement . . . means not to make the Negro a white
man but to make him a better man. The
Negro has no desire to be every- thing the white man is or
to do everything he does. . . . The Negro is not a white man with a black skin. If the
blacks were sud- denly transformed in spirit into white people, the racial con ict which
would ensue would give rise to a state of anarchy which would not only drench the soil
with blood but would result in the extermination of a large portion of mankind. (pp. 147148)
Black Education, Imperial Pedagogy, and Post-Racial Mythology Under the Reign of Obama 47 Like many of the Black
education theorists of the 20th century, Wood- son did not try to degrade the character of Black people through the idle
mimicry of whites. He understood that history, culture, religiosity, op- pression, and political struggle gave Blacks a
different perspective from which to view the racial landscape of America. While
whites were seeking to
consolidate their national power and extend their imperial scope, Blacks were attempting
to resist, rather than imitate, the values, struc- tures, and poisonous ideals that created
the insidious obsession with domination found at the root of Americas liberal political
structure. Woodson understood as early as the 1920s that white civilization was an inferior mode of rule. Woodson
(1921/2008) argued that civilization is best which confers the greatest good on the great- est number. The so-called white
mans civilization primarily concerned with promoting the interest of Europeans and white Americans becomes, therefore,
decidedly inferior to that of some of the natives of the jungles. Passing through Europe or America one nds abundant
resources productive of riches, cit- ies of splendor inhabited by people of luxury and ease, and gov- ernments controlling
dominions almost encircling the globe, all made possible, however, by forcing to a lower level the man far down or by
enslaving, plundering, or exploiting the weaker peoples of other lands. This is not in itself progress for mankind. It is
merely the centralization of power in the hands of autocrats. (p. 149) The Negro is wise enough not to worship power
(Woodson, 1921/2008, p. 149). Through struggle, their relentless pursuit of freedom against the Western concept of man
and the white template of civilization, Blacks/Blackness stood firm on its incongruity with the white world. Black people did
not misunderstand themselves, their position in the world, or the political philosophy behind the caricatures of white
democracy; they aimed to be a people different and distinct from the degraded humanity demonstrated by whites. The
power behind Wood- sons sentiment gets to the root of the ongoing theoretical discussions that continue to erroneously
insist on the neutrality of white/western/ enlightenment/liberal political concepts without any attention or study of the
deliberate rejections of those concepts by Black people. Woodson
adamantly assertedcontrary to the
liberal-integrationist-historiography of today that draws inspiration from progressive era
thinkers like John Deweythat The Negro thoroughly understands the false politi- cal
philosophy behind the whole system of government arrayed against the man of color
(Woodson, 1921/2008, p. 144). Black people did not seek to simply participate in democracy
given its predilection towards errorracism, inequality, exploitation, etc.; in fact, white
political phi- losophy was rejected as barbaric. Democracy then, the Caucasian might as
well say, is a thing for the white man. What then is the white man, says the Ne- gro, but a barbarian
belonging to the Middle Ages? A man feeling that the law by which he is bound limits his conduct to his own people; who
deems it a crime to steal from members of his own race but a virtue to steal from others outside his own clan; who
considers himself guilty of murder if he kills one of his own group but believes that he has done a heroic deed if he takes
the life of one another group. (Woodson, 1921/2008, p. 145) These thinkers point to a view of American political life that is
not simply critical of the dominant group, but in stark contradiction to it. Du Bois and Woodson urged a reorientating of the
type of equality Black Americans seek as citizens in the United States. Rather than urging a critical attitude, they
demanded a complete rejectionan understand- ing and acceptance of the history of a political system fundamentally
dependent on the subjugation of Black bodies and lives for pro t and power. Integration, post-racialism, and democracy
are all synergistic components of the same manifold of anti-Blackness. Each depends on the related ideology to sustain
the legitimacy of the other. Integrationism
creates the logic of racial abstraction, which concretizes
into a narrative whereby race is transcended, ultimately enabled by the exceptional openness
and transformative potential of American democracy. Rejecting the mythology of post-racialism ultimately
requires race-crits and Black scholars alike to indict the logics and abstractions of integra- tionism as well as the liberal
incantations of American democracy. This is not a political difference, but a fundamental shift in the paradigms from which
The values many of us
race and racism are to be conceptually viewed and analyzed for generations to come.
hold dearequality, liberty, freedom, property, and even democracymust be placed
within the his- torical context of Americas racial economy and the ongoing rationaliza-
tions of Black deaths at the hands of white citizens and the white state.

Desegregation fails, crushes black communities, and ignores the

structural conditions of anti-blackness
Michael J. Dumas et al 16, Assistant Professor at the University of California,
Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies
Department, Ph.D. in Urban Education, kihana miraya ross, postdoctoral fellow in
the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at UT Austin, Be Real
Black for Me: Imagining BlackCrit in Education, Urban Education,
School desegregation research tends to assess effectiveness in terms of legal victories
and policy compliance, the willingness of Whites to participate in busing programs rather
than flee public schools, and the extent to which desegregation contributes to cross-
cultural learning and the reduction of prejudice (Orfield & Eaton, 1996; Orfield & Lee, 2004; Wells, 1995;
Wells, Duran, & White, 2008). CRT scholars have rightly criticized school desegregation policies,
and the aims of integration more broadly, as efforts which have done more to maintain
White material advantage than extend opportunities for Black children (Dumas, 2011, 2014, 2015;
Horsford, Sampson, & Forletta, 2013; Ladson-Billings, 1998; Tillman, 2004). White resistance to school
desegregation has always been fierce, and opponents have used the courts and the
legislative process to undermine integration altogether, or implement policies that
provide special educational benefits for White children, and create more segregated
spaces within and across schools, in which White children will not have to be in the
same classrooms as Black children. Perhaps most significantly for BlackCrit, critical race
theorists have also called attention to the myriad ways that school desegregation has
been deleterious to the stability of Black communities and families, the development of
healthy Black racial identities, and the emotional and social well-being of Black children
placed at risk in what Ladson-Billings (2014) has called a deal with the devil. Derrick Bell
(2004) in reflecting critically on his own experience championing school desegregation, notes the damage done to Black
children: In these white schools, black children all too often met naked race-hatred and a curriculum blind to their needs.
Black parents, who often lived far from the schools where their children were sent, had no input into the school policies
and little opportunity to involve themselves in school life. (p. 112) BlackCrit follows CRT in interrogating the White
supremacy inherent in the formation of, and White resistance to, school desegregation, and embraces CRTs reliance on
the lived experiences of Black children, parents, and com- munities as counterstories to the liberal hegemonic frame used
in assessing the effectiveness of integration policies and practices. Where BlackCrit goes further is in analyzing the
specific formations of antiblackness that serve as the foundation for opposition to school desegregation, but which are
also embedded in various attempts to implement policies intended to bring racial balance.For example, to
convince White families to send their children to predominantly Black schools, district
leaders often placed attractive magnet programs in these schools, which had often been
long deprived of resources. Although these specialized programs were ostensibly open
to all students, the overwhelming number of spaces were occupied by White students.
The very fact that such programs were not offered to Black students prior to integration
is a clear case of disregard for Black bodies, and is informed by a deep belief that Black
people are undeserving of strong academic programs, and worse, simply would not have
the capacity to succeed in more rigorous courses of study. The antiblackness is only
compounded when Black studentschildren allhad to endure seeing their White peers
offered higher status and greater resources in schools that had historically been places
of Black pride and com- munity uplift. More broadly, BlackCrit helps us think about
desegregating schools as spaces in which Black children and their families are the objects of
education policy that has other aims besides the defense of Black humanity. These other
aimsracial balance, prejudice reduction, cultural pluralismultimately displace
analytical frames that highlight Black well-being and futurity, and thus place Black lives
at further risk. Here, BlackCrit might envision a libera- tory fantasy in which Black subjects respond to integrationist
policy propos- als with a decided, Hell naw and then I said, Hell naw! with the same decided defiance that The Color
Purples Miss Sophia rejected Miss Millies offer to serve as her maid. And, we might throw in a direct punch to Miss
Millies husbands face as well, regardless of the cost: Hell naw! to going where we are hated and beaten down.

Desegregation is a nice word for assimilation they try and mold the
black body into the perfect black citizen that acts white, seems
white, and feels white
Tommy J. Curry 15, Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, Back to the
Woodshop: Black Education, Imperial Pedagogy, and Post-Racial Mythology
Under the Reign of Obama,
For centuries, European thinkers, and their contemporary white followers, have run rampant in the halls of academia
prematurely championing the success of liberalism to speak to the experience of those historical groups of people
excluded from modernity, while simultaneously celebrating the universal embrace by the supple bosom of whites
anthropologically specific ideas of reason and humanity. In the United States, this philosophical impetus has solidi ed the
political regime of integration as not only the most desirable but also most realizable condition of Black (co)existence.
Following this course of events, the education of African-descended people has been
collapsed into a single ideological goal, namely how to mold Blacks into more functional and
productive members of American society under the idea of equality established by Brown v.
Board of Education. Unfortunately, however, such a commitment elevates the ethical
appeals made by Brown, which focused on higher ideals of reason and humanity found
in liberal political thought and the eventual transcendence of racial identity to moral
code. Following the election of Barack Hussein Obama, a new post-racial morality ushered in to tout the success of
integration in eliminating American racism. Under this regime, the education of Black people becomes a decidedly norma-
tive endeavor in which institutions of learning compel Black people to base their consciousness toward the world and
toward the continuing oppression of Blacks and other darker races around the world through militarism and sanctions
around how Black people should act and what Blacks ought to be if they wish to be recognized as true Americans. This
morality, instead of attending to what Blacks should learn or the knowledge Blacks need
to have in order to thrive as Blacks in America, condemns racial consciousness; it
forces/demands Blacks to conduct them- selves (politically, culturally, socially) with the
aim of being recognized as good Negro citizens. Ultimately, post-racialism is a creation
of the white imagination, a flight of fancy able to escape the world of fantasy through the
imposition of white authorship upon the world, an interpretation that owes its existence
not to some attempt to grasp truth about the state of the world but to the insipid
assertions of its white authors. It is not real any more than any desire about the world is; it is merely the
collective aspiration of whites in a white supremacist world taken to be concrete and materiala 21st-century assertion by
a white populace wishing to be free from the tyranny and horror of their white selves but only able to assert their
absolution through the still tyrannical power that racism allows white consensus to have over the realities, material and
psychical, 50 National Society for the Study of Education of racialized peoples: the powerless victims of racism.
Blackness, under post-racialism, is paradigmatized as a viable American existence by
the extent to which it accepts the anti-Black violence and racist inequities that define the
lives of most Black Americans. The Black citizen is rewarded by the extent to which he or
she rationalizes himself or herself as separate from those other Blacks. Aspiring to be the
exceptional Black, to be the citizen and not the slave of empire, creates the logics of being beyond race while seeing the
consequences of racism on the Black bodies condemned to poverty, sentenced to death, and marred by the stain of anti-
Blackness. This is our present-day dilemma where our thought, our critical faculties are revealed to be extensions of,
rather than the refutations to, the present order of knowledge and pedagogy. As academics, we have been taught to
criticize because we are denied the fruits of empire, rather than wage critique as a protest of empires existence. True
Black radicalism that indicts the class fractures within Black intel- ligentsia is thought to be dangerous and divisive
because it makes clear that criticism functions as a means to elevate many Black middle-class thinkers into higher
institutional posts based on their ability to translate the suffering and death of the Black lower class to white entities. Post-
racialism, the idea that race has no material consequence in the world or in the lives of racialized peoples, is simply the
most recent ideological programme deployed to sustain white domination over the ability of Black people to describe their
own histories and narrative their own lives through Blackness. Through
moral condemnation, white
America as- serts that racismthe death of Black men and boys, the poverty of Black
women and families, the economic stagnation of Black folk, and their political
marginalization and repressionis ultimately due to their own (Black) failings, their
inability to advance themselves within the parameters of a civilized/white/American
society. In short, this is a lie.

Desgregation fails even if legislation is enforced there are infinite

loopholes and structural issues that make anti-blackness inevitably,
they just pave over these issues
Deborah M. Keisch et al 15, cultural anthropologist who has worked in the field
of education for over two decades as a practitioner, Tim Scott, Director, Faculty
and Staff Assistance Program, U.S. Education Reform and the Maintenance of
White Supremacy through Structural Violence,
U.S public schools are more segregated today than they have been since before the
desegregation efforts that followed the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case (Kozol, 2005;
Mullins, 2013; Rothstein, 2013; Strauss, 2014; UCLA, 2014). Many education scholars have noted the
simultaneous widening of the gap between resourced and under-resourced schools over
the same time period that the market- based education reforms, heralded by their
proponents as addressing this inequity, have been implemented. Education activist and author
Jonathan Kozol reminds us that the travesty lies not just with segregation of schools but within the combination of
segregation and inequity - and remarks that if we had separate but equal schools we would at least be living up to the
Plessy vs. Ferguson, the landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld state segregation laws but required those
segregated public spaces to be separate but equal. However, as Kozol laments, U.S. schools are
decidedly separate and unequal. Kozol Clip 1 (Right click and select Open in new tab. Mac users should press
Command + click) Despite the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, education looks very different for many Black and
But in addition to integrating students of different
Brown children than it does for many white children.
races, desegregation must also address the racist and white supremacist structures
institutionalized within U.S. education policy and practices. As education activist and
author Soloman Comissiong writes, After all, has desegregation cleansed the black
community of the infestation of American racism and white supremacy? Integration only
truly works when the integratee is allowed the same rights, respect, and overall
privileges as the integrator (Comissiong, 2009, para. 2). Half-century after Brown, racial
segregation in U.S. schools is intensifying, while the current desegregation practices that do
exist require children of color to assimilate to and model the behaviors, values and
appearances of middle-class white America (Comissiong, 2009). Even if mandates are followed,
the threat of structural racism continues and equality of opportunity and equality of outcome
remains elusive. The reality that children are living their lives in vastly segregated spacesboth in and outside of
schoolshapes how both white and Black students view themselves and their world. In a talk that New York City public
school teacher and education activist Brian Jones gave to a group of parents and teachers during Black History Month in
February 2012, he describes the way his 6th grade students understood their schooling environment through the lens of
segregation and how current policies and rhetoric ignore what it would take to truly address issues of segregation. Jones
Clip 1 (Right click and select Open in new tab. Mac users should press Command + click) A theme in Joness stories are
the repeated contradictions he points outthat in his class discussion of Ruby Bridges and the success of
desegregationhe is speaking to a completely segregated room of Black students, that the schools named after Black
civil rights leaders are almost always the most segregated schools and in the most segregated urban areas, and that
current education policiesdriven by notions of excellence rather than equityignore the issues that have the potential to
No matter how conspicuous the segregation of
actually address segregated schooling (i.e., resources).
schooling, it seems to remain hidden from policymakers who choose to omit it from their
discourse. This standpoint of ignoring race, of ignoring struggles related to poverty and
equity in public educationof ignoring any policy that might lead to greater social and
economic equity for students and communities of colormust be explored within a wider
historical context of white supremacy and neoliberal capitalism.

Segregation is just one manifestation of a broader infection their

desegregation good arguments presume that society itself isnt
Tommy J. Curry 16, Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, We Who
Must Fight in the Shade: Derrick Bells Philosophy of Racial Realism as the basis
of a Black Politics of Disempowerment.,
Even today, America is at best a desegregated society,9 where desegregation is largely not
true in most cities in the U.S. Though many liberal thinkers hold on to the possibility of
asserting equality in the socio-legal structures of American society, the truth of the
matter is that most courts, legal scholars, and institutions are explicitly rejecting the
message and reformist impressions of Brown v. Board of Education. Despite the moral
conscience that the Brown decision has allegedly awakened in the minds of whites, Brown was never meant to identify or
punish whites who maintained communal segregation and social discrimination on a racial basis. Even in its second
adjudication the Supreme Court reified its long standing principles that law, especially the Fourteenth amendment, should
not dictate the right of whites association or eradicate racism.10 The
Courts reluctance to mandate
desegregation against the interests of whites made Alexander Bickels opinions on
Brown propheticas a legal precedent Brown was indeed slipping into irrelevance.
Whites were not seen as criminals, racism was not prohibited, and the re-socialization of
whites from racists to morally competent citizens fell on the shoulders of compulsory
education.11 According to Bell, viewed from the perspective provided by four decades, the Court says now that
Brown was basically a call for a higher morality rather than a judicial decree authorizing Congress to coerce behavior
allegedly unjust to blacks...12 Despite the moralizations that now accompany discussions of race and racism in
American, it must be admitted that the patterns of white supremacy and the institutions necessary for its enforcement
remain unaffected by the graces of Brown v. Boards racial etiquette. As Robert L. Carter remarked a decade after Brown,
Brown's indirect consequences, therefore, have been awesome. It has completely altered the style, the spirit, and the
stance of race relations. Yet the pre-existing pattern of white superiority and black subordination remains unchanged;
Thus, Brown has promised more
indeed, it is now revealed as a national rather than a regional phenomenon.
than it could give, and therefore has contributed to black alienation and bitterness, to a
loss of confidence in white institutions, and to the growing racial polarization of our
society...Few in the country, black or white, understood in 1954 that racial segregation
was merely a symptom, not the disease; that the real sickness is that our society in all of its
manifestations is geared to the maintenance of white superiority.13 Carters comments should come
as no surprise given the political interests motivating desegregation in the 1950s. Brown, rather than being an indication
of Americas evolution in social conscience, was an anticommunist decision superficially aimed at eliminating the
constitutional justification of state- sponsored racial segregation14 in recognition of the nations need to strengthen its
argument that democratic government was superior to its communist alternative.15 According to Mary Dudziak, both
Justice William O. Douglass and Chief Justice Earl Warren were well aware of the international implications of the Brown
decision.16 The
unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education was a political
concession geared towards the preservation of U.S credibility and U.S. soft power during
the Cold War. One need not look far to find vintage '50s Cold War ideology in primary
historical documents relating to Brown. For example, the amicus brief filed in Brown by the U.S. Justice
Department argued that desegregation was in the national interest in part due to foreign policy concerns. According to the
Department, the case was important because "[t]he United States is trying to prove to the people of the world, of every
nationality, race and color, that a free democracy is the most civilized and most secure form of government yet devised by
man." Following the decision, newspapers in the United States and throughout the world celebrated Brown as a "blow to
communism" and as a vindication of American democratic principles. As was true in so many other contexts during the
Cold War era, anticommunist ideology was so pervasive that it set the terms of the debate on all sides of the civil rights
issue. In addition to its important consequences for U.S. race relations, Brown served U.S. foreign policy interests. The
value of a clear Supreme Court statement that segregation was unconstitutional was recognized by the State Department.
Federal government policy on civil rights issues during the Truman Administration was framed with the international
implications of U.S. racial problems in mind. And through a series of amicus briefs detailing the effect of racial segregation
on U.S. foreign policy interests, the Administration impressed upon the Supreme Court the necessity for world peace and
national security of upholding black civil rights at home.17 Within
one hour of the decision in Brown,
Voice of America was sending out news casts stating that the issue was settled under
democratic processes of law rather than dictatorial fiat, confirming not only the
superficial nature of the decision but pointing to the interest convergence of white
political appeals. Juicing Brown for all the propaganda it was worth, the United States Information Service had even
arranged to have films showing Blacks and whites going to school together in India. According to Dudziak, U.S. State
Department files from the period are full of reports from the field that racial problems in the United States harmed U.S.
relations with particular nations and compromised the nations Cold War objectives. 18 Even though we may admit the
introduction of new equality rhetoric in American race relations, it must nonetheless be admitted that Cold War concerns
provided a motive beyond equality itself for the federal government, including the president and the courts, to act on civil
rights when it did.19 This admittance fundamentally changes the status of political equality and changes the place of the
measure attending to this progress. While Bell compels Blacks to recognize Brown as an illusion that is at best a symbolic
gesture, Dudziak ultimately concludes that her work is simply a contribution to the academic historiography of the
decision. Her most recent essay on Brown was a long way of saying that Brown belongs in the Cold War chapter of
American legal history...It also helps us see...an important element to look for elsewhere...other border points where the
domestic and foreign become intertwined, other moments when judicial moorings in domestic affairs shifted when moved
by international currents.20 Though many of Dudziaks works have been championed at cutting edge in the history of
jurisprudence, it is Bells analysis of Brown that deserves more consideration in philosophical treatments of American
racism. For Bell, the contradictions in the agendas of American civil rights reveal the stratagems of American
jurisprudence; exposing civil rights legislation for what it isthe sporadic deployment of racial symbols used to pacify
Blacks. Racial symbols have been the mainstay of blacks faith that some day they will
truly be free in this land of freedom. Not just holidays, but most of our civil rights statues
and court decisions have been more symbol than enforceable law.21 These laws, while
praised for their racial enlightenment, are hardly enforceable and never seem to live up
to their promises of social transformation. To assume then that the nature of race relations
have fundamentally changed or can be challenged on the basis of democratic ideals and good
faith individuals is to ignore the legacy of racial progress in line with practical white values
and political interests in this country, and uncritically impose the gradualist narrative on a
people suffering from racism as if the future of promise lies in their ability to see the moments
of amelioration proleptically. Recognizing the illusion of Brown v. Board and the delusional content of
integrationism is necessary to make genuine attempts at political and social transformation from the position of Blacks in
the United States. Despite popular proclamations, racism and liberalism are as intertwined in American history as they
are antithetical.22 Whereas many Black scholars still believe in the anomaly thesis or the idea that American are all
good people; whites are slowly changing their ways, and Negroes are slowly coming into full possession of their liberal
democratic heritage,23 Critical Race Theorists urge Black thinkers to reconsider the naivete held in failing to
acknowledge the normalness of American racism.
Because the Brown decision is celebrated as the
triumph of legal liberalism and unjustifiably framed the foundations many Black political
philosophers take as necessary to our thought, our theorizations about the actual
conditions of racism continue to be dependent on the idea that courts can lead social
change, and that Black civil rights struggles for civil rights translates into a societal effort
towards anti- discrimination.
Privatization/Testing/Charter Schools

Privatization, standardized testing, and charter schools are all

examples of reform that have put black bodies at a structural
disadvantage within educational spaces
Rita Kohli et al 17, is an Assistant Professor in the Education, Society and
Culture Department, Marcos Pizarro began teaching in Mexican American
Studies at San Jos State University in 1999, Arturo Nevarez, PhD candidate at
University of California, Riverside: Education, Society, and Culture The New
Racism of K12 Schools: Centering Critical Research on Racism,
As privatization practices have increased in K12 schools over the past decade, so have
racial disparities. In recent years, a growing body of education research has documented
neoliberal-driven policies that exacerbate what the racialization and racism communities of
Color endure in K12 education through issues such as testing, school choice, charter school
development, and a divestment from public education (Buras, 2009; Gay, 2007; Prins, 2007). Through
a policy analysis of recent federal education reforms such as No Child Left Behind and
Race to the Top, Au (2016) argues that high-stakes, standardized testing policies
increase racism by centering individual achievement without any structural analysis
what he calls Meritocracy 2.0. Masked as an accountability narrative for achieving racial
equality in schools, corporate-driven testing practices affirm racial hierarchies of student
success (Au, 2013; 2016). Urrieta (2006), in a case study of a predominantly White charter school, and Roda and Stuart
Wells (2013), through interviews with kindergarten parents, argue that school choice policies, which often take a colorblind
stance, advantage White and affluent parents and increase segregation. Through an ethno- graphic case study (Stovall,
2013), and critical race discourse analysis of newspaper articles, community forum transcripts, and school board meeting
notes (Briscoe & Khalifa, 2015), two key studies illuminate how school closures disproportionately and negatively affect
working-class urban Black neighborhoods. A parent from a community forum explained, You know if you kill the school,
you know youre kill- ing the community, right? (Briscoe & Khalifa, p. 748). Recognizing schools are an extension of
communities, the authors argue that school leaders driven by neoliberal mandates pay less and less attention to the
As many public
communitys voice and needs, exacerbat- ing educational inequity (Briscoe & Khalifa, 2015).
schools are being closed, research also points to the insurgence of charter schools as a
form of contemporary racism. In semistructured interviews with educational stakeholders
and through policy analyses, Henry and Dixson (2016) cri- tique the discourse of charter
schools as the common sense solution to inequity by pointing to charter authorization
and application processes in post-Katrina New Orleans that resulted in an influx of
White-dominated corporate charters and the marginalization of Black school leaders.
Buras (2015) echoes the sentiment in her New Orleans study, arguing that many corporate charter schools and
alternative teacher recruitment reforms displace veteran Black teachers for young White teachers and are funded by
White philanthropists whose purpose is to align public education to busi- ness. Other
charter school critics
point to racist, deficit-minded pedagogies masked as classroom management (Casey,
Lozenski, & McManimon, 2013) that stratify and limit the learning opportunities of
students of color (Foiles Sifuentes, 2015). A collective analysis of these studies pushes
us to understand a new form of edu- cational racism that is masked by equity language
and driven by capitalist, market- driven goals. This literature reveals how rhetoric of
equity and justice is being used to promote neoliberal-driven educational laws, policies
and institutions that, in fact, protect and exacerbate racial inequity in and through K12
English Language Classes

Dual language learners have English imposed upon them, stripping

them of their heritage and reestablishing a racial heirarchy
Rita Kohli et al 17, is an Assistant Professor in the Education, Society and
Culture Department, Marcos Pizarro began teaching in Mexican American
Studies at San Jos State University in 1999, Arturo Nevarez, PhD candidate at
University of California, Riverside: Education, Society, and Culture The New
Racism of K12 Schools: Centering Critical Research on Racism,
A third focus in the literature that examined institutional racism in K12 schools was a
critique of policies and practices that label and serve two frequently marginalized student
groupsdual-language learners (DLLs), often referred to as English Learners; and
students labeled with disabilities. There is a body of literature that illuminates the White supremacy of
language policies and practices that devalue DLLs and their families. While there is a history of English-only
impositions on immigrant youth, masked as a social good to remedy the supposed deficiencies
of DLLs (Briscoe, 2014), English-only campaigns were reinstitutionalized in 2001 through the No Child Left Behind policy
(Lapayese, 2007). Research illuminates trauma that immigrant, bilingual students of Color
experience through policies that affirm White racial privilege (Lapayese, 2007; Malsbary,
2014), noting that English dominance in schools is actually a racializing process that
undermines student poten- tial and success (Pimentel, 2011), particularly for those
labeled long-term English learners (Flores, Kleyn, & Menken, 2015). Perez Huber (2011) builds
on the narra- tives of both documented and undocumented Chicanas to show how the English- language hegemony of
California public schools institutionalizes racist nativism: the institutionalized ways people perceive, understand and make
sense of contemporary U.S. immigration that justifies native (white) dominance, and reinforces hegemonic power (p.
380). Uncoveringthe racist, nativist microaggressions of teachers, she argues that as
students are shamed for their Spanish, they are also socialized to under- stand
themselves as outsiders in the United States, regardless of their immigration status or
years of residence (Perez Huber, 2011; Perez Huber & Cueva, 2012). Simultaneous to the degradation of Spanish
for Latina/o students, D. Palmers (2010) qualitative study in a second-grade dual-language classroom points to a newly
emerg- ing trend of dual-language education that benefits middle-class White students. Bilingualism is thus gentrified as
Latina/Latino, and Black students are prevented from enrolling in these specialized programs in their own schools (D.
Palmer, 2010). Collectively,
this literature exposes language policy and practice as a
racializing force that, as it stands, serves to perpetuate racial inequity. Interestingly, there is a
parallel body of research that examined the racialization of students of Color through (dis)ability-focused policies and
practices (Artiles, 2011). Because of intersecting forms of ableism and racism embedded in the Individuals With
Disabilities Education Kohli et al.: The New Racism of K12 Schools 191 Act (2004) and the associated policies and
practices (Beratan, 2006; Liasidou, 2014), schooling often results in the forced segregation and racist exclusion of (mostly
Black male) students with special needs (Ferri & Connor, 2005). The
research delineates the
overrepresentation of Black and Latinx students in special education as guided by
assumptions of cultural deficits and pseudoscientific placement processes that result in
misguided conceptualizations of disability (Ahram, Fergus, & Noguera, 2011), as well as
inequitable resource allocation, inappropriate curriculum and pedagogy, and inadequate
teacher preparation (Blanchett, 2006). As a challenge to the rationaliza- tion that
disproportionality occurs because there is something inherently wrong with Black bodies (i.e.,
their behavior, their cognition; Artiles, 2011), Fitzgerald (2006, 2009), through an analysis of school records in an
integrated public school district, problematizes disproportionate behavior designations and the use of psychotropic
medications (e.g., Ritalin) as a racialized process used to control the academic and social behavior of Black boys.
Thus, without addressing racismthe need to pacify, control, and exclude Black and
brown bodiesalongside ableism, students of Color continue to be overrepresented,
segregated, and prevented from reaching their academic potential (Zion & Blanchett, 2011).
Building on DisCrit, the union of dis- ability studies and critical race theory (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013), Annamma,
Morrison, and Jackson (2014) use policy and spatial analysis to make groundbreaking connections between
disproportionality, racist school discipline practices, and the school to prison pipeline. While
programs serving
DLLs and students labeled with disabilities have been framed as a benefit to these
student subgroups, when examined through a structural analysis of racism, the literature
reveals how these programs systematically exacerbate racial inequity. Understanding
the racism associated with processes of designation alongside neoliberal policies and
colorblind discourse, there is a pattern in K12 schools where antiracist discourse is
often misappropriated by policies and practices that racialize and further marginalize
students of Color.
Special Ed

Black bodies are disproportionately represented within special ed.

classes the black body as seen as disabled purely because its
Rita Kohli et al 17, is an Assistant Professor in the Education, Society and
Culture Department, Marcos Pizarro began teaching in Mexican American
Studies at San Jos State University in 1999, Arturo Nevarez, PhD candidate at
University of California, Riverside: Education, Society, and Culture The New
Racism of K12 Schools: Centering Critical Research on Racism,
Interestingly, there is a parallel body of research that examined the racialization of
students of Color through (dis)ability-focused policies and practices (Artiles, 2011).
Because of intersecting forms of ableism and racism embedded in the Individuals With
Disabilities Education Kohli et al.: The New Racism of K12 Schools 191 Act (2004) and the associated policies and
practices (Beratan, 2006; Liasidou, 2014), schooling often results in the forced segregation and racist exclusion of (mostly
Black male) students with special needs (Ferri & Connor, 2005). The
research delineates the
overrepresentation of Black and Latinx students in special education as guided by
assumptions of cultural deficits and pseudoscientific placement processes that result in
misguided conceptualizations of disability (Ahram, Fergus, & Noguera, 2011), as well as
inequitable resource allocation, inappropriate curriculum and pedagogy, and inadequate
teacher preparation (Blanchett, 2006). As a challenge to the rationalization that
disproportionality occurs because there is something inherently wrong with Black bodies (i.e.,
their behavior, their cognition; Artiles, 2011), Fitzgerald (2006, 2009), through an analysis of school records in an
integrated public school district, problematizes disproportionate behavior designations and the use of psychotropic
medications (e.g., Ritalin) as a racialized process used to control the academic and social behavior of Black boys .
Thus, without addressing racismthe need to pacify, control, and exclude Black and
brown bodiesalongside ableism, students of Color continue to be overrepresented,
segregated, and prevented from reaching their academic potential (Zion & Blanchett, 2011).
Building on DisCrit, the union of dis- ability studies and critical race theory (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013), Annamma,
Morrison, and Jackson (2014) use policy and spatial analysis to make groundbreaking connections between
disproportionality, racist school discipline practices, and the school to prison pipeline. While
programs serving
DLLs and students labeled with disabilities have been framed as a benefit to these
student subgroups, when examined through a structural analysis of racism, the literature
reveals how these programs systematically exacerbate racial inequity. Understanding
the racism associated with processes of designation alongside neoliberal policies and
colorblind discourse, there is a pattern in K12 schools where antiracist discourse is
often misappropriated by policies and practices that racialize and further marginalize
students of Color.

The black engineer is seen as a paradox in modern schooling

teachers discourage black youth to follow careers in STEM while
simultaneously undermining their success in the field
Ebony O. McGee 15, assistant professor of diversity and urban schooling in the
Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University
Why Black Students Struggle in STEM Subjects: Low Expectations,
Such a narrative, a result of the racialized and gendered narratives that black male
adolescents live with in urban areas, is part of DeAndres schooling as well as out-of-
school experiences. Black males are presumed to lack intelligence when it comes to
academics, particularly mathematics. For more than ten years, I have been researching the lives and
experiences of black STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) high school students all the way up the
pipeline to black STEM faculty. I have looked at the achievements of black students in mathematics within their first eight
or nine years of schooling. Negative messages I
have found that black males who consistently
outperform their peers in mathematics are also victims of covert racial stereotypes and
racial microaggressions. The truth is, DeAndre is a high school junior and a high-
achiever in mathematics and science from an urban area. DeAndre is not hardened, but
he is fragile. His STEM identity is especially tenuous. DeAndre is not alone. There are
thousands of young men like DeAndre in urban cities across the country, who are STEM
high-achievers and have the potential to succeed as STEM professionals. However, too
often they receive negative messaging about their continued success in STEM. Such
messages from teachers or counselors downplay or minimize their mathematics abilities.
The low expectations from these talented boys serve to further discourage them from
pursuing STEM fields. Academic challenges As a result, black participation in STEM fields has been left far
behind. In 2011, whites held 71 percent of STEM jobs, Asians held 15 percent, and blacks only 6 percent. In 2009, white
students obtained 65.5 percent of the STEM undergraduate degrees. However, STEM undergraduate degrees for blacks
have remained flat for the last nine years. Blacks received just 6 percent of all STEM bachelors degrees and less than
half of those went to black males. Overall, blacks received 4 percent of masters degrees, and 2 percent of PhDs in
STEM, despite constituting 12 percent of the U.S. population. When
it comes to academic success,
young black students face many other challenges that are only made worse by the
negative messaging. There are societal messages that equate black maleness with criminality, with teachers often
being afraid of their black male students. Often enough, as my own research shows, unequal
access to treatment results in poorer health outcomes for black kids. The early academic years
for these students are riddled with long-term (two months or longer) illnesses that negatively impact their schooling and
result in attending at least one summer school term. Some of these students also change schools quite often. DeAndre,
This lack of
for example, has a higher rate of school transfer; his current school is his third high school in three years.
continuity for high achieving black male students can lead to additional pressures to
prove their intellectual abilities in mathematics to an unwelcoming or skeptical school
culture. Fighting racial stereotypes can also wear them down. DeAndre is weary of racial
stereotypes in general and stereotypes about black males in particular. DeAndres coarse behavior during his school
commute is actually performed to repel or deflect potential violence via aggressive posturing, as evident in his swagger.
In reality, he hasnt been in any real fight since second grade and is filled with trepidation every time he walks home from
school. So few options Young black students also work toward what is called performing whiteness. This in their words
means: talking ultra proper English while enunciating every syllable, dressing preppy, not talking about their families,
pretending to go on vacations, not telling too many jokes, and proving to their white female teachers that they are not to
be feared but to be loved and nurtured. The result is that their intrinsic motivation for learning
mathematics and steadfast internal drive get constantly eroded by a host of structural and
environmental challenges. In addition to all these above challenges, they are often at schools that do not offer
enough academic opportunities to support their interests. DeAndres school does not offer AP classes that would position
him more favorably for a STEM college major. Another
problem that black kids face is an absence of
role models. The successful black role models that students like DeAndre are exposed
to are mostly athletes and rappers. DeAndre does not want to be an athlete or a rapper.
Even so, the likelihood of DeAndre going on to pursue STEM remains frail.
Giroux/Critical Pedagogy

They posit an equal, democratic society as the end goal of their

project this fails to recognize that democracy itself necessitates
anti-black violence
Tommy J. Curry 15, Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, Back to the
Woodshop: Black Education, Imperial Pedagogy, and Post-Racial Mythology
Under the Reign of Obama,
Contrary to the popular proclamations celebrating the triumphs of American democracy,
America is not a democracy but a system that maintains power and international
prominence through its manipulation of social inequity and vast gaps in economic strati
cation (Gilen & Page, 2014). America is not organized to be a nation where the senti- ments and political
assertions of the oppressed and marginalized can overthrow the privileged and powerful . The government,
dedicated to social order and corporatist legitimacy, preserves the various societal hi-
erarchies of production to drive its various imperial endeavors, be they national or
international. In a coauthored chapter with Susan S. Giroux entitled Democracy and the Crisis of Public Education,
Henry Giroux (2006) maintained that America democracy is void of content and trans- formative power. For Giroux
(2006), democracy appears imperiled as individuals are unable to trans- late their
privately suffered misery into broadly shared public concerns and collective action. Civic
engagement now appears impotent and public values are rendered invisible in light of the growing power of multinational
corporations to shape the con- tent of most mainstream media as they privatize remaining pub- lic. Political exhaustion,
the empty ritual of voting, and impov- erished intellectual visions are fed by the increasingly popular assumption that there
are no alternatives to the present state of affairs. (p. 43) In this American reality, a reality sustained by historical hierarchy
and current political constraint, citizenship becomes a duty-bound endeavor rather than a creative exercise. Following
his critical theorist sensibili- ties, Giroux (2006) rightly noted that citizenship is about the
act of buy- ing and selling commodities, rather than increasing the scope of their
freedoms and rights in order to expand the operations of a substantive democracy (p.
43) but failed to capture the seriousness of the neoliberal repression for Black
Americans to conform to this capitalist mode of exchange and civic life where they are
coerced into joining the complacent ranks of the exploiters or remain trapped in the
various racial castes of the exploited. Rather than it being a case of taking an ethical
stand about the purpose and meaning of public education and its crucial role in
educating students to participate in an inclusive democracy (p. 50), as Giroux (2006) would
have us believe, the task for Black people remains unchanged as it concerns how
BlacknessBlack knowledge, Black experience, Black history is denatured and erased as
the basis of educating Black people who remain victims of the antidemocratic white rule that
has been taken to be synonymous with America as a free, independent democracy.
From this perspective, citizenship remains an obstacle to Black freedom and liberation, not
the conduit of it. In stark contrast to the traditional progressive vein of education theory, which relishes the
contributions of John Deweys pragmatism and Jane Addamss re- formismtheories known for their depicting of
education as a means to enhance the transformative and open possibilities of citizenship and democracyKant offers a
view of citizenship much more in line with the problems confronting oppressed populations within empires. In Anthro-
pology From a Pragmatic Point of View (1798/2006), Kant quoted the old Brocardian dictum, Salus civitatis suprema lex
esto (The well being of the state [not of the citizens] is the highest law) as the basis of his political philosophy. Civil
society emerges from the force, enforcement, of law, so it is within the ethical power of
the state to preserve itself and demand from its citizens the obedience and actions
necessary for that preservation (p. 236). Kants understanding of citizenship, because it assumes the colonial
nature of states and racial difference, does a bet- ter job capturing the tensions described by Giroux, as well as the his-
Contrary to Girouxs
torical paradox of racial repression Black Americans continue to remain trapped within.
reading of Du Bois within the classical liberal tradition and his assertion that Du Bois was
unaware of the media culture and propagandist infiltration of traditional pedagogy, I
maintain, with the exception of technological advances, that Du Bois described,
analyzed, and castigated the imperialist historiography that Giroux now sees his work
reacting against. In a 1962 essay entitled American Ne- groes and Africas Rise to
Freedom, Du Bois argued that as [N]egroes therefore slowly turned to a new ideal: to
strive for equality as American citizens, [they] learned from their environ- ment to think
less and less of their fatherland and its folk. They learned little of its history or its present
conditions. They began to despise the colored races along with white Americans and to
acquiesce in color prejudice. (Du Bois, 1965, p. 334) With desegregation, and the
promise of equality, that sacred ideal of- fered to Blacks as a reward for their loyalty to
the American state and its foreign endeavors was a Pyrrhic victory. On the one hand,
Blacks became citizens, but on the other, they became complicit capitalistsduty-bound
exploiters of the darker races abroad, but impoverished at homea con- dition they hoped
the political designation of citizenship would slowly improve, raising them from laborer to
capitalist owner. Du Bois under- stood the super ciality of desegregation and recognized that Brown v. Board was the
result of international geopolitical pressures rather than a change in the moral conscience of whites. In short, no such
decision would have been possible without the world pressure of communism led by the Soviet Union (Du Bois, 1968, p.
333). Du Bois is even more adamant as to the dangers of Brown v. Board. In [w]hites in Africa after Negro Autonomy, Du
Bois warned, We may not delude ourselves into silence based on undoubted progress in American race relations during
the last 50 years cul- minating in a Supreme Court decision which is not yet enforced, or on favors to Negroes in return for
acquiescence in national polices which continue to spell ruin for the colored peoples of the world. (Du Bois, 1996, p. 674)
The danger of citizenship was that it gave to Blacks a freedom to par- ticipate in
Americas colonial imperialist drive toward empire. It is this soft power (cultural) victory,
which Du Bois (1965) commented on in his 1961 piece entitled American Negroes and
Africas Rise to Free- dom, that not only legitimized the expansion of Americas
colonialism but took from Blacks their connection with Africa and the oppressed of the
world. Severing the cultural ties to Africa and embracing American- ism at the expense of
Black consciousness was an ever-present danger for Du Bois. The solidification of Americas neocolonial
project, which transformed Blacks historically deemed to be nothing more than property and lesser human beings to
American citizens, became an example to the darker world. Integrating Black people into the American empire created the
Not unlike the Roycean xation on the white mans burden
ideal manifold of order within the nation.
within the borders of America at the dawn of the 20th century that insisted on the
elimination of cultural difference and the diffusion of racial solidarity among Blacks, the
policy of integrationism mandated the deemphasizing of Black racial and cultural distinctions
as a means to sustain order and political homo- geneity amid racism and economic equality
(Curry, 2009a; Royce, 1900). On the one hand, it is precisely this idea of citizenship (loyal to the state and organization of
society) that excluded Black peoples from the alleged freedoms whites enjoyed and condemned Blacks as the property
(enslaved chattel) of whites to dwell in America as subhumans. On the other hand, however, it is precisely this mode of
existence, formulated in America, that created and nurtured notions of freedom rooted in ones ability to own and treat
Blacks, indigenous, and foreign peoples as nonhuman. It is this historic contradiction, which now formulates the endless
commodi cation of ideas, property, and politics by citizens, that concerns Giroux and makes citizenship a quest for pro t
instead of freedom in a system that offers little to no change for the oppressed and marginalized. Instead of pretending
that within empire there is true freedom, we should begin our analyses with the historical and material realities that have
The stratification of American society
been mysti ed by the rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and equality.
makes it impossible for citizenship to deliver the promises of racial change hoped for by the
civil rights movement. Black Americans, like the indigenous popula- tions before them,
remain subject to the laws of history and the effects of colonialism that have determined
their current conditions. To pre- tend that the condition Black Americans nd themselves
in, even with a Black president, is freedom is to ultimately suggest that the lives of Black
people, their suffering, is of no consequence, asserting that what is of ultimate value is
only that they can no longer be called slaves.
Mathematics Education

Mathematics education erases the black body leaving them as an

afterthought and justifying continued stereotyping
Dan Battey et al 16, associate professor in the Department Learning and
Teaching at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, LUIS A. LEYVA is an
assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt
Univerrsity, A Framework for Understanding Whiteness in Mathematics
Education, http://ed-osprey.gsu.edu/ojs/index.php/JUME/article/view/294/200
Additionally, the lack of attending to race and the invisibility of perspectives and histories
of people of color may be evident in ways such as parents of color not being on the
parentteacher association (organizational logic), no images other than Martin Luther
King, Jr. present on the school walls (physical space), and curricula that do not
represent anything but White problem contexts (history). Specifically, with respect to the
labor of mathematics in classrooms, white- ness would force teachers to hyper-focus on the
behavior of lower-status White stu- dents or students of color, while their mathematical
thinking remains invisible. Ad- ditionally, those lower-status White students who are doing well would need to
constrain themselves to White norms of behavior such as sitting quietly and only talking when called on as well as
exhibiting speed and accuracy to be perceived as mathematically intelligent. The same would be true of students of color
in this con- text. Teachers
and White peers may frame students of color as not belonging in
mathematics classrooms (academic delegitimization), or are surprised when they are
present. This framing prompts students of color to respond by forming collec- tives
(agency), feeling the need to prove themselves (emotional labor), disidentify- ing from
their race (identity), or rejecting mathematics (resistance). The point of this framework is to identify
these behaviors not individually among specific stu- dents, but as responses to whiteness and institutional racism
operating in mathemat- ics education. We use this example to illustrate the need for mathematics education researchers
to document the presence of race within predominantly White spaces. Additionally, whiteness can be viewed within
predominantly African Ameri- can and Latin@ contexts. In this case, we consider a historically White immigrant
community; White immigrants who moved out when historically marginalized peo- ple of color began moving into the area.
Institutionally, with the influx of African Americans, housing prices have been reduced, which has limited school resources
as well. Simply looking at the demographics of the teachers and administrators ver- sus the students is one sign of who
has the power in the school (organizational log- ic). There is an African American principal, for example, but half of the
Students are
teachers are White in a school in which the student body is 100% African American and Latin@.
required to wear uniforms, an act of controlling physical ex- pression (physical space).
Similar to the predominantly White context, regardless of the race of the administrators
and teachers, if students are succeeding by aligning with White norms of intelligence
and behavior (labor), then whiteness is present here as well. While a racial match
between the teacher and student can be beneficial to students (Gershenson, Holt, & Papageorge,
2016), teachers of color can also per- petuate the same White norms as well. Discourses of acting White
(Fordham & Ogbu, 1986; Stinson, 2011), which are intended to narrow the diverse ways
in which African Americans and Latin@s can act, are a form of whiteness constrain- ing
ways of being (co-construction of meaning). The predominant mathematics pedagogy is
back to the basics (ideology), where students must know the basics before moving
onto more complex mathematics and problem solving in meaningful contexts. As a
result, the students rarely if ever get access to meaningful mathemat- ics (cognitive
labor). Finally, the majority of teachers perceive parents of color as either absent or
aggressively fighting the school (ideology), and are too often ex- cluded from
participating (organizational logic). The point here is that if whiteness is systemic, it does
not depend on White actors or villains. It can be internalized and reproduced by even those
who do not intend to perpetuate racism.

The competiveness mindset in education reinforces racial hierarchies

Luke Tripp 07, Professor and Chair Department of Community Studies Racism
and Public Education, St. Cloud University,
Students are socialized to believe that America is: 1) democratic, which implies that it is
free of oppression, 2) meritocratic, which implies that a person's social location is
determined by ability and effort, and 3) just, which implies that whatever unfortunate
circumstances that may exist, they can be overcome, and that fair play is the rule, and
privileges are earned (Huber and Form, 1973). In their study of beliefs about inequality, Kluegel and
Smith (1986) found that a large majority of whites believe there is nearly equal educational and job opportunity. Whites
believe one's socioeconomic status is determined by her/his individual attributes such as ability and effort. Another
prevalent belief they hold is that economic inequality is necessary and beneficial. Moreover they endorse the idea of
These basic beliefs constitute
economic and societal equity as the just criteria for the distribution of income.
whites' ideological justification for socioeconomic inequality. Thus for whites in general,
the American class structure can be morally defended as a system which is fair
because, although it is not based on the principle of equality, it does provide equal
opportunity for success. Given these beliefs, they logically conclude that those who are
at the bottom of the social structure are there because of some deficiencies in terms of
ability and effort rather than other factors related to historic and continuing forms of
oppression. These beliefs under gird the racial and class based social stratification system.
Unfortunately, most students have been woefully miseducated about their country. Much of what they believe about
The process of
America is based on myths, lies, and propaganda that they have been taught in schools.
miseducation begins very early in their lives and continues throughout their lifetimes.
They are conditioned to accept a fictional image of America. When children begin their
formal education, they are routinely introduced to school rituals, which are designed to
instill a sense of pride in America. Rarely are they introduced to ideas which would stir
intellectual curiosity about America. The fictional image of America that is presented to
the young students is one that is lovable, but it is also one that is largely based on myths
and deliberate lies. For instance, in many schools students are required to stand with their hands across their
hearts, while facing the American flag, and recite the pledge of allegiance to America. Included in this pledge are these
words. " ... one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all." Every thinking person knows that this is patriotic
rhetoric. However, through repetition this big lie assumes the status of a quasi-truth along with the fables about George
Washington, the Father of America who "never told a lie." This all serves a major goal of American
education which is to teach students to love their country, but not to deeply understand
it. It is no wonder that so many say "love it or leave it" to people who criticize America. In many history classes it is rarely
taught that relations between Blacks and Whites in America began as a relationship based on Whites debasement of and
control over Black people and that this basic relationship has persisted to the present. This profound and obvious fact is
often ignored. Consequently, students cannot fully understand the political, psychological, social, and economic dynamics
of U.S. society. The
schools continue to promote an image of America as a country firmly
committed to the humanitarian values of freedom, justice, liberty, and democracy. But,
the reality is that America is a ruthlessly competitive society driven by the pursuit of material
wealth, social status, power, and control. Further, it is a hierarchical society destructively
divided along racial and class lines. This was the reality in Jamestown in the early 1600s when America was in
its embryonic stage, and it remains a reality today. Blacks and the American Constitution There is probably no greater
myth in American history than the one about the American Constitution. Americans glorify this historical document as a
model of democratic principles that should be emulated by all countries seeking to become democratic. Moreover, it is
praised as a guarantor of human rights and a protector against tyranny and oppression. The Framers of the American
Constitution are likewise revered as compassionate, democratically minded, fatherly figures who were primarily interested
The American
in the well-being of others. These very powerful images work very well among the miseducated.
education establishment as well as the mass media systematically fosters these images
to perpetuate the illusion that America is a democratic country founded by honorable
men. Even a cursory look at Black history provides insights which quickly debunk the
myths about the American Constitution and the "Founding Fathers. " There are three sections in
the American Constitution that legitimize the dehumanization of Black people. First, Article I, Section 2 stipulates that
Black slaves (the Framers carefully avoided using the term slave in the Constitution) would be counted as three-fifths of a
person for the purpose of distributing power among the White ruling elite; second, Article 1, Section 9 provided for the
protection of the slave trade; and third, Article IV, Section 2 declared runaway slaves (freedom seekers. refugees) to be
criminals who had to be returned to their slave master. Thus the legal foundation for racism was firmly set in the American
This helps
Constitution. But, this would come as no surprise if one studied historical facts rather than fiction.
explain why the Constitution was a pro-slavery, anti-democratic document primarily
designed to sanction and protect the interests of the wealthy White ruling elite.

Their attempt to solve climate change through innovation ignores the

racialization of space and mobility that has made rapid climate
change possible
Bekah Mandell 8, A.B., Vassar College; J.D., Boston College Law School;
Director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity Fair Housing
Project; Father Robert Drinan Family Fund Public Interest Fellow Racial Rei
cation and Global Warming: A Truly Inconvenient Truth,
The racialization of space and mobility has been a significant cause of global climate change
because it requires vast amounts of fossil fuels while devouring inordinate amounts of
land.289 This section explains how the systems and hierarchies that polarized land use and transportation along racial
lines in the United States have been a significant cause of global climate change. A. The Causes of Global Warming
Climate change is a result of a concentration of greenhouse gases in the earths atmosphere.290 The concentration of
greenhouse gases in the earths atmosphere has risen significantly since industrialization in the 1800s, but has spiked
precipitously in the decades after World War II, a rise that tracks the increasing suburbanization of the United States.291
Despite rhetoric from political leaders about the unchecked CO2 emissions of developing nations, the United States
remains the most significant producer of greenhouse gases in the world, responsible for nearly a quarter of the worlds
total emissions.292 It is significant then that the increasing concentration of CO2 in the earths atmosphere correlates
Suburban land
temporally with the rise of suburbanization and personal transportation in the United States.293
use, and the racist policies that created and support such land use, have led to a spike
in the United Statess CO2 emissions.294 Large, inefficient, single- family homes on large
lots, located far from commercial centers, accessible only by personal vehicles,
consume energy and land in correlation with the three most significant sources of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: electricity production, transportation, and
deforestation.295 B. Land Use and Climate Change The suburbanization of whiteness has created
endless acres of suburbs in the United States.296 Between 1982 and 2003, the growth in developed land in
the United States far outpaced population growth, increasing by nearly half, as more and more of the population moved
out to the suburbs.297 In 1982, 72.9 million acres of the land in the United States were developed; twenty-one years later,
by 2003, 108.1 million acres had been developed.298 This new development transforms fields, farms, and forest into
inefficient housing, featuring large foot- prints on large lots.299 As whites have had to move farther and farther from cities
and inner-ring suburbs to preserve their privilege, the lots on which they have built their new homes have grown in size,
eating up more land that was once forest or grassland.300 This increased distance from basic needs and larger home
sizes require increasing amounts of fossil fuels for transportation and for heating, cooling, and power.301 Large, detached
homes that define suburban living use much more energy than urban dwellings for several reasons.302 Because newer
suburban homes are much larger than the homes in the urban core and older first-ring suburbs, they demand much more
energy to heat and cool than more compact homes.303 Though they may take ad- vantage of more efficient technologies,
they are much less energy efficient than the townhouses or apartments that make up the bulk of urban housing stock
because they cannot take advantage of the efficiency of shared heating and cooling systems that reduce overall energy
con- sumption.304 Moreover, the disastrous consequences of these inefficiencies are compounded by heating homes
with fossil fuels such as oil or gas, the extraction of which releases CO2 into the atmosphere.305 Additionally, cooling
large homes (many of which are located in the south where cooling systems are run yearround) is equally damaging to
the CO2 levels in the earths atmosphere because of the vast amounts of electricity these large homes use to run air
conditioners and other cooling apparatuses.306 Moreover, large, detached suburban homes consume much more energy
in the form of electricity per dwelling than do urban homes.307 Each suburban home has more electricityconsuming
features than a typical urban home: more lights and more appliances.308 Consuming increased amounts of electricity,
these extra appliances demand in- creased electricity production.309 Because [t]he largest single source of carbon
emissions in the United States is electricity production, these large homes have caused the release of hundreds of
millions of tons of CO2 into the earths atmosphere.310 The increased energy consumption of each individual suburban
house is again compounded by the increased energy that low-density developments demand for public services.311
Sprawling neighborhoods require more street lighting than dense, urban neighborhoods because they cover more ground
with fewer efficiencies.312 These added street lights put more pressure on power grids, increasing demand for electric- ity
and requiring the generation of more powera significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.313 Additionally,
suburban neighborhoods re- quire more energy from fossil fuels to pump water and waste over larger distances; they are
unable to take advantage of infrastructure efficiencies in the way that more densely developed, urban neighborhoods
do.314 The lower-density development of suburban communities re- quires more miles of asphalt roads to be built and
maintained.315 Be- cause a primary element of asphalt is oil, the construction and repaving of extensive suburban
roadways contribute to increased levels of atmospheric CO2.316 The significantly larger carbon footprint of these
suburban homes actually begins before residents move in; the suburban construction boom has contributed to and
continues to affect global warming as fossil fuels are burned during the construction of acre after acre of new homes.317
The dump trucks, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery that make building a new home possible guzzle vast amounts of
gasoline and spew CO2 into the earths atmosphere as they run.318 The damage done by machines on the construction
sites of the hundreds of thousands of suburban homes built since World War II is compounded further by the energy
consumed to transport the building materials from their place of production to sprawling housing sites.319 Furthermore,
the materials commonly used to build larger suburban houses are yet another source of increased greenhouse gas
emissions.320 Most suburban homes have been constructed from wood, little of it sustainably harvested, contributing to
deforestation, which is a significant source of global warming.321 Deforestation and unsustainable harvesting undermine
the earths ability to sequester CO2 and keep it from entering the earths atmosphere.322 Though different forests offer
varying degrees of carbon sequestration, or sink properties, forests are net carbon sinks, meaning they draw CO2 out of
the atmosphere as part of the photosynthesis process and trap it inside living trees where it cannot contribute to climate
change.323 As trees are cut down for lumber, the earth loses a precious source of carbon sequestration.324 The
degradation and loss of forested land effectively eliminates that lands ability to act as a sink to absorb new carbon
emissions, undermining the earths ability to regulate CO2 levels in its atmosphere.325 The process of clearing land to
make way for development causes forests to be- come sources of CO2 as the trees are unsustainably cleared or thinned
Not only has suburban
and the carbon they had previously stored is released into the atmosphere.326
development caused a spike in the production of greenhouse gases, its land use
patterns have reversed the planets natural ability to store and regulate the amount of
CO2 in the atmosphere.327 As the suburbs have come to symbolize whiteness, the
status that they confer on residents has caused them to become home to more of the
countrys population than any other type of development.328 Since sprawl is by definition low-
density, increasing suburban populations have converted millions of acres of land from forest and grassland to CO2
producing uses.329 C. Transportation and Climate Change Increased auto dependency further adds to the suburbs effect
on the climate by necessitating increased vehicular travel and fossil fuel consumption.330 The federal subsidy of the
suburbs and the passenger car has turned the suburbs into vast auto-dependant cul-de-sacs.331 Because the suburbs
are built to be navigated by individual vehicles, rather than public transit, the only reasonable means of getting around for
the bulk of the countrys population is private passenger cars.332 The particular zoning of the suburbs requires that
residents drive be- tween home and school, between home and work, and between any- where and the grocery store.333
Auto-dependent development and the transportation hierarchy have increased car ownership in the United States, making
it essential for every member of suburban households to have access to a car or risk complete isolation, both economic
and social.334 As the American population has become increasingly suburban, the number of trips taken by the average
American in a private auto- mobile has risen.335 As a result of the increased need to travel by car for simple daily tasks,
residents in low-density suburbs drive twenty to thirty percent more than residents living in neighborhoods with double
thedensity.336 This increase in driving means that suburban residents travel patterns alone cause them to consume
twenty to thirty percent more fossil fuels, and emit twenty to thirty percent more greenhouse gases than their non-
suburban counterparts.337 To accommodate this increase in per capita automobile trips, car ownership has increased in
the past few decades in the United States.338 Though the average household stayed roughly the same size from 1983 to
1990, as measured by the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey . . . its auto travel grew by about 12,000 miles per
year, due in large part to changes to suburban settlement patterns countrywide.339 All of this driving contributes
significantly to global climate change be- cause cars burning gasoline emit millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere,
causing greenhouse gases to build up in the atmosphere.340 Personal automobile trips are one of the most significant
causes of CO2 emission: fossil fuel emissions from car travel represent almost twenty- five percent of annual CO2
emissions in the United States.341 Considering that the average suburban household consumes
415 more gallons of gasoline per year than a household in a denser development and
emits five metric tons more carbon per year than its more densely developed counterpart
would, there can be no question regarding the environmental impact of the United Statess
pro-suburban, white-over- black policies.342 The marked increase in personal automobile
trips and car ownership in America is a direct result of suburbanization and the creation
of the racialized transportation hierarchy.343 Conclusion People resist change, especially if it undermines
their status. It is even more difficult, though, when what must be changed are the systems
that have been used to define and preserve cultural power hierarchies. But this change must
happen to address the global climate crisis effectively. Though it will not be easy, an effective response to
global warming will require a reversal of decades of racist housing, land-use, and
transportation policies that have been used to reify race in American society. Combating
global warming will not be successful until we take into account the investment that white
elites have in the current unsustainable system. We must respond to these deeply
entrenched systemic barriers by crafting a solution that overcomes the structural and
institutional blocks resisting any meaningful responses to the climate crisis.

Freire fails to adequately theorize black positionality and denies

black existence
Danny Bernard Martin 13, professor in the College of Education at the
University of Illinois at Chicago, Race, Racial Projects, and Mathematics
Education, http://education.uic.edu/sites/default/files/Race_Racial_Projects.pdf
However, the Freirian perspective from which Gutstein draws heavilyand that many
other scholars appropriate from his workhas been criticized for its treat - ment of race and
racism, especially in relation to the Black Diaspora. Haymes (2002), for example, stated: Freire and his
supporters seem to be confident that his work after Pedagogy of the Oppressed addresses race and racism. The question
is not that Freire does not look at race, and that there is no doubt about his sincere commitment to fighting racism, but it is
The problem, then, with
his conceptual limitations regarding race that must be called into question. . . .
Freires pedagogy of the oppressed is that he assigns to the category working class a
universal and transcendental quality. . . . Thus, when Freire says, [he] did not focus
specifically on oppression marked by the specificities [of race and color] in that [he]
was more preoccupied with the oppressed as a social class, Freire fails to see that
working class identities, and class identities more gener - ally, can also be black. . . .
Freires pedagogy in fact denies black existence and in doing so it denies that black people
have a point of view in the world. Yet, this point of view is the very place that a black
radical humanist pedagogy of liberation in the Africana context begins. (pp. 155158)
AT Natives Perm

Their attempt to analogize the conditions of the black body and

Native Americans is flawed violence inflicted upon natives operates
within the humanist language that necessarily excludes blackness
Frank B. Wilderson 16, its Wilderson, Afro-pessimism & the End of
Redemption, https://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=14236
The expanding field of Afro-pessimism theorises the structural relation between Blackness and Humanity as an
irreconcilable encounter, an antagonism.
One cannot know Blackness as distinct from slavery, for there
is no Black temporality which is antecedent to the temporality of the Black slave. Civil society has
a perverse and parasitic relation to the workings of anti-Black violence; it does not want Black land (as it does from Native
Americans), or Black consent (as it does from workers), it wants something more fundamental: the confirmation of human
existence. Afro-pessimism argues that the regime of violence that subsumes Black bodies
is different from the regime of violence that subsumes hyper-exploited colonial
subalterns, exploited workers and other oppressed peoples. To illustrate what this means, I offer an
excerpt from Simon Ortizs epic poem, Sand Creek, followed by my poem Law Abiding, written in the wake of Oscar
Grants assassination. Juxtaposing
these two poems will help to clarify how the regime of
violence that saturates Blacks is structurally incompatible with a regime of violence where
contingency, as opposed to saturation, is the operative modality; and how only one regime
of violence comes with touchstones of cohesion necessary for redemption.

Sand Creek

There should be
moments of true terror
that would make men think
and that would cause women
to grab hold of children,
loving them, and saving them
for the generations
who would enjoy the rain.
Who are
these farmers,
who are these welders,
who are these scientists,
who are those soldiers
with cold flashing brilliance
and knives.
Who struck aside
the sacred dawn
and was not ashamed
before the natural sun and dew
they splattered blood
along their mad progress;
they claimed the earth
and stole hearts and tongues
from buffalo and men,
the skilled
butchers, aerospace engineers,
physicists they became.
The future should hold them
secret, hidden and profound.

Law Abiding

for Oscar Grant (February 27, 1986 January 1, 2009)

Dont slant the story to fit your needs
Bullets been catching hell from niggers long as I been
Like apples ok you got your few bad bullets
But most work hard and vote yes they vote and
Got wives and sweet kids in the clip
Who cradles them when a nigger vamps who says
What to them
Mrs. Bullet I have some bad news
Then what
Its about your husband Mr. John Fredrick Bullet
May I call you Frieda
Frieda John Fredrick passed this evening
Now Frieda be strong for unsavoury
Are the details
He died in a niggers spine
Crushed on impact now Frieda dont cry
The D.A.s on it
The judge has been briefed
And your husbands friends are
In the streets

At first blush an exegesis might be seduced into emphasising what the poems have in commonthe ravages of structural
violence on two oppressed populations of colour. But another look reveals that the two poems are
actually symptomatic of the fact that violence against Native Americans is not analogous
to the violence by which Blacks are elaborated and positioned. The violence of social
death (that is, the violence which saturates Blackness: the violence of slavery, an
ongoing pre-historical relation of violence) is fundamentally different from the violence
which usurps Native American land and attempts to destroy the Indians cultural and
territorial sovereignty. The imaginative labour of these poems is symptomatic of this
difference. In the first section of Sand Creek, the poem establishes the filial integrity of the people who are being
massacred (men [who] think[and] women who grab hold of children, loving them, and saving them for the generations
who would enjoy the rain) So,
what we have is an intuition on the part of the poet that even
though the people being killed are seen as a degraded form of humanity, their humanity
is fundamentally acknowledged; and, in addition, there is a symbiosis, a kind-of cruel
interdependence, between the genocided victims in the opening part of the poem and
the descendants of those committing the genocide (skilled butchers, aerospace
engineers, physicists). In other words, the relational status of both the Indian victims and the White
oppressors is establisheda reciprocal dynamic is acknowledged (between degraded humanity, Indians, and exalted
humanity, White settlers). This reciprocal dynamic is based on the fact that even though one group is massacring the
other, both exist within the same paradigm of recognition and incorporation. Their relation is based on a mutual
recognition of sovereignty. At every scale of abstraction, body, family, community, cosmology, physical terrain,
Native American sovereignty is recognised and incorporated into the consciousness of both Indians and settlers who
destroyed them. The poems coherence is sustained by structural capacity for reciprocity between the genociders and the
genocided. This structural reciprocity gives the poem a vision of hope amid the violence, manifested in a sense of spatial
presence (images of land and weather) and in Ortizs sense that for both groups a future is possible. This means the
violence the Indians suffer has a utility (confiscation and occupation of land) that makes it legible and coherent.
Abiding is predicated on the absence of reciprocity, utility, and contingency that Simon
Ortizs poem takes for granted. Absence of humanity. In fact, the poem suggests that a family of
murdering, inanimate bullets could have its grief and loss processed as grief and loss more readily than the family of a
Black murder victim. Law Abiding doesnt assume that the touchstones of cohesion which
make filiation legible will or can be extended to Blacks. There isin this poemno
mutual futurity into which Blacks and others will find themselves. The future belongs to
the bullet. Filiation belongs to the bullet. Our caring energies will be reserved not for the Black but for the bullet.
Reciprocity is not a constituent element of the struggle between beings who are socially
dead and those who are socially alivethe struggle between Blacks and the world. We
need to apprehend the profound and irreconcilable difference between White supremacy
(the colonial utility of the Sand Creek massacre) and anti-Blackness (the human races
necessity for violence against Black people). The antagonism between the post-colonial
subject and the settler (the Sand Creek massacre, or the Palestinian Nakba) cannotand
should not beanalogised with the violence of social death: that is the violence of slavery,
which did not end in 1865, for the simple reason that slavery did not end in 1865. Slavery is
a relational dynamicnot an event and certainly not a place in space like the South; just as colonialism is a relational
dynamicand that relational dynamic can continue to exist once the settler has left or ceded governmental power. And
these two relations are secured by radically different structures of violence. Afro-pessimism offers an analytic lens that
labour as a corrective to Humanist assumptive logic. It provides a theoretical apparatus which allows Black people to not
have to be burdened by the ruse of analogybecause analogy mystifies, rather than clarifies, Black suffering. Analogy
mystifies Black peoples relationship to other people of colour. Afro-pessimism labor to throw this mystification into relief
without fear of the faults and fissures that are revealed in the process. Let me state the proposition differently: Human Life
is dependent on Black death for its existence and for its conceptual coherence. There is no World without Blacks, yet
there are no Blacks who are in the World. The Black is indeed a sentient being, but the constriction of Humanist thought is
a constitutive disavowal of Blackness as social death; a disavowal that theorises the Black as degraded human entity: i.e.,
as an oppressed worker, a vanquished postcolonial subaltern, or a non-Black woman suffering under the disciplinary
regime of patriarchy. The Black is not a sentient being whose narrative progression has been circumscribed by racism,
colonialism, or even slavery for that matter. Blackness
and Slaveness are inextricably bound in such
a way that whereas Slaveness can be disimbricated from Blackness, Blackness cannot
exist as other than Slaveness. There is a compulsive and repetitive failure in the poem titled Law Abiding; as
though, in writing the poem, I unconsciously realised the futility of asserting something within Blackness that is prior to the
devastation that defines Blackness; and the force of the repetition compulsion with which the poem roils within this
devastation is vertiginous: The D.A.s on it/The judge has been briefed/And your husbands friends are/In the streets.
The poem contains no lines, no fragments which can be cobbled together with enough muscle to check this devastation,
to act on it in a contrapuntal way: this is not a case of the compulsion to repeat, which Freud describes in Beyond the
Pleasure Principle, whereby the repetition is something that seems [] more elementary, more instinctual than the
pleasure principle which it overrides. Law
Abiding contains no political strategy or therapeutic
agency through which the violence which engulfs Black flesh can be separated from the
poems compulsion to repeat that violence. In a normal situationthat is to say, if Law Abiding was a
poem about Human trauma and genocidetherapeutic and/or political intervention could be made to, in the case of
therapy, help the poet become aware of a distinction between the violence he may indeed encounter from the state and a
range of psychic alternatives to letting that violence consume his unconscious; and, in the case of politics, the vision
elaborated by a movement could help the poet imagine a new day, and thus imbue state violence with a temporal finitude
(our day will come, as the IRA used to say, and, so it did; or the Native American dream of Turtle Island restored), even
recourse to political and therapeutic resources
if the poet didnt live to experience that finitude. But
presumes a potential for separating skeins of unconscious compulsion (the poems repetitive
compulsion) from the violence whose incursions are being compulsively repeated. This
presumption only works for Human subjects, subjects whose relationship to violence is
contingent upon their transgressions. The Slaves relationship to violence is not
contingent, it is gratuitousit bleeds out beyond the grasp of narration. Neither filial conflict (to
be resolved, for example, through therapy), nor affilial conflict (to be resolved through politics and insurgent resistance)
has purchase in a struggle for Black redemption (Edward Said offers a helpful description of filial and affilial forms of
relationships in The World, the Text, and the Critic).
Blackness = Ontological
2NC Generic

The black body is positioned outside of the world held in opposition

to civil society so that civil society can remain coherent, this locks
blackness within the ontological position of the slave and opens it to
gratuitous violence
Frank B. Wilderson 10, its Wilderson, RED, WHITE & BLACK Cinema and
the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms, p. 26-30, Ibooks.
- preempts the perm with the line about allies

- implicit state link

- blackness = ontological

- gratuitous violence impact

- affs burden to prove blackness isnt ontological not vice versa

- progress/reform debate is a secondary question

*edited for gendered language

If the position of the Black is, as I argue, a paradigmatic impossibility in the Western
Hemisphere, indeed, in the world, in other words, if a Black is the very antithesis of a
Human subject, as imagined by Marxism and psychoanalysis, then his or her [their]
paradigmatic exile is not simply a function of repressive practices on the part of
institutions (as political science and sociology would have it). This banishment from the
Human fold is to be found most profoundly in the emancipatory meditations of Black
peoples staunchest allies, and in some of the most radical films. Herenot in restrictive
policy, unjust legislation, police brutality, or conservative scholarshipis where the
Settler/Masters sinews are most resilient. The polemic animating this research stems from (1) my reading of
Native and Black American metacommentaries on Indian and Black subject positions written over the past twenty-three
years and (2) a sense of how much that work appears out of joint with intellectual protocols and political ethics which
underwrite political praxis and socially engaged popular cinema in this epoch of multiculturalism and globalization. The
sense of abandonment I experience when I read the metacommentaries on Red positionality (by theorists such as Leslie
Silko, Ward Churchill, Taiaiake Alfred, Vine Deloria Jr., and Haunani-Kay Trask) and the metacommentaries on Black
positionality (by theorists such as David Marriott, Saidiya Hartman, Ronald Judy, Hortense Spillers, Orlando Patterson,
and Achille Mbembe) against the deluge of multicultural positivity is overwhelming. One suddenly realizes that, though the
semantic field on which subjectivity is imagined has expanded phenomenally through the protocols of multiculturalism and
globalization theory, Blackness and an unflinching articulation of Redness are more unimaginable and illegible within this
expanded semantic field than they were during the height of the FBIs repressive Counterintelligence Program
(COINTELPRO). On the semantic field on which the new protocols are possible, Indigenism can indeed become partially
legible through a programmatics of structural adjustment (as fits our globalized era). In other words, for the Indians
subject position to be legible, their positive registers of lost or threatened cultural identity must be foregrounded, when in
point of fact the antagonistic register of dispossession that Indians possess is a position in relation to a socius structured
by genocide. As Churchill points out, everyone from Armenians to Jews have been subjected to genocide, but the
Indigenous position is one for which genocide is a constitutive element, not merely an historical event, without which
Indians would not, paradoxically, exist.9 Regarding the Black position, some might ask why, after claims successfully
made on the state by the Civil Rights Movement, do I insist on positing an operational analytic for cinema, film studies,
and political theory that appears to be a dichotomous and essentialist pairing of Masters and Slaves? In other words, why
should we think of todays Blacks in the United States as Slaves and everyone else (with the exception of Indians) as
Masters? One could answer these questions by demonstrating how nothing remotely
approaching claims successfully made on the state has come to pass. In other words,
the election of a Black president aside, police brutality, mass incarceration, segregated and
substandard schools and housing, astronomical rates of HIV infection, and the threat of being
turned away en masse at the polls still constitute the lived experience of Black life. But such
empirically based rejoinders would lead us in the wrong direction; we would find
ourselves on solid ground, which would only mystify, rather than clarify, the question.
We would be forced to appeal to facts, the historical record, and empirical markers of
stasis and change, all of which could be turned on their head with more of the same.
Underlying such a downward spiral into sociology, political science, history, and public
policy debates would be the very rubric that I am calling into question: the grammar of
suffering known as exploitation and alienation, the assumptive logic whereby subjective
dispossession is arrived at in the calculations between those who sell labor power and
those who acquire it. The Black qua the worker. Orlando Patterson has already dispelled this faulty ontological
grammar in Slavery and Social Death, where he demonstrates how and why work, or forced labor, is not a constituent
element of slavery. Once the solid plank of work is removed from slavery, then the conceptually coherent notion of
claims against the statethe proposition that the state and civil society are elastic enough to even contemplate the
possibility of an emancipatory project for the Black positiondisintegrates into thin air. The
imaginary of the state
and civil society is parasitic on the Middle Passage. Put another way, No slave, no world.
And, in addition, as Patterson argues, no slave is in the world. If, as an ontological
position, that is, as a grammar of suffering, the Slave is not a laborer but an anti-Human,
a position against which Humanity establishes, maintains, and renews its coherence, its
corporeal integrity; if the Slave is, to borrow from Patterson, generally dishonored,
perpetually open to gratuitous violence, and void of kinship structure, that is, having no
relations that need be recognized, a being outside of relationality, then our analysis
cannot be approached through the rubric of gains or reversals in struggles with the state
and civil society, not unless and until the interlocutor first explains how the Slave is of the
world. The onus is not on one who posits the Master/Slave dichotomy but on the one who
argues there is a distinction between Slaveness and Blackness. How, when, and where did such a split
occur? The woman at the gates of Columbia University awaits.
Generic Ext.

Policy makers assumes the root of issues within black schools and
try to make useless policy implementations--- the black community
should discuss the issues and propose changes to the policy
makers to avoid an echo chamber of negative effects
Adrienne D. Dixson et al. Jul 2016, Dr. Adrienne D. Dixson is an Associate
Professor of Critical Race Theory and Education in the Department of Education
Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign. Jul 30, 2016, Educational Policy and the Cultural Politics of Race:
Introduction to the Special Issue
Milbrey McLaughlin (2006) has noted that policy implementation researchers have come to
understand that what a policy issue is determined to be a problem of is crucial in justifying
certain courses of action, and dele-gitimizing others. This problem of the problem, she
argues, is a struggle over the root causes of policy issues, different interpretations of social
facts (p. 210) that reflect not only differences of opinions but also ideological con-
tention over beliefs and values. If, as W. E. B. Du Bois (1903) asserted, the problem of the
20th century is the problem of the color line, then race has arguably been one of the
most pressing and central problems of educational policy over the past century as well.
Even our own current 21st century pos-tracial and colorblindness flirtations reflect
a persistence of race as prob-lem, a kind of collective desire to not imagine race
as problem (Bonilla-Silva, 1997; Melamed, 2011). Of course, Du Bois (1903) also asked in regard to Black U.S.
citizens, How does it feel to be a problem? Here, he understands that the very existence of racialized
bodies is constructed as a problem, and therefore, we would add, a problem for
policy. Importantly, however, a cultural politics of race is not merely interested in the
hegemonic representa-tion of race and racialized people as problem; it is equally
concerned with how the problem speaks back, agentially, to these
representations. As cul-tural studies scholar Stuart Hall (1990) contended, the study of cultural poli-tics insists on
providing ways of thinking, strategies for survival, and resources for resistance to all those who are nowin economic,
political and cultural termsexcluded from anything that could be called access to the national culture of the national
community (p. 22). Thus, although much educational policy research situates communities of color as on the receiving
end of policy interventions, as the object of policy, or, the problem to be fixed by policy, a cultural politics of race
invites, even insists on, turning that configuration on its head. In addition, youth,
within a cultural politics of
race, we examine how parents, community activists, and other social actors
engage in public and counterpublic deliberation on policy questions, how they
themselves see the problem of race, or more precisely, racism, in educa-tional
policy discourse and practice, and how they then strategize ways to resist what
they understand as a racial assault, effected in and through policy.

The alternative is to embrace fugivity to accept blackness

wholeheartedly and run against the black border while refusing to
cross it
Paula von Gleich 17, doctoral candidate of American Studies at the University
of Bremens Department of Languages and Literatures, Afro-pessimism,
Fugitivity, and the Border to Social Death, http://www.e-ir.info/2017/06/27/afro-
But how can we grapple with Black sociability that happens against all odds on the other side of the border, where social
If we look at the Black
death seems to deny Blackness any leeway for negotiation in or with civil society?
border that condenses the Afro-pessimist arguments outlined above, there seems to be
no place in Afro-pessimism or on the Black border to apprehend the everyday lives of
Black people and their battles and negotiations in the United States other than to
consider them as being permutations. This is because they figure on the level of experience with which
Wildersons conceptual framework seems hardly concerned. Nonetheless, scholars such as Saidiya Hartman and Fred
Moten whose work appears closely related to but arguably different from Afro-pessimism as developed by Wilderson
have attempted to mutually address Black sociability and the structural position of Blackness in the afterlife of slavery.
Interestingly, both draw to different extents on the long history of Black fugitivity to do so (see Hartman 2007; Moten
2009). In a similar vein, the historian Tina M. Campt also draws on the concept of fugitivity in her landmark monograph
Image Matters (2012) to examine the ways in which Black diasporic photography participated in community and identity
formation in a hostile environment that negated Blackness. In her study of vernacular photography of Black German
families (19001945) and portrait photography of African Caribbean migrants to postwar Britain (19481960), Campt
addresses the broad question of how do black families and communities in diaspora use family photography to carve out
a place for themselves in the European contexts they come to call home? (Campt 2012: 14). Campt puts the concept of
fugitivity to direct use in her analysis of snapshot photographs of the lives of Afro-German families in Nazi-Germany. Her
image analyses reveal the ways in which the fugitivity of these photos lies in their ability to visualize a recalcitrant
normalcy in places and settings where it should not be (ibid.: 91). The
images practice a form of fugitivity by
displaying and thereby (re)creating spaces of private refuge for Black German subjects in Nazi
Germany. Consequently, in her preceding discussion of definitions of the term fugitive, Campt explicitly includes those
who cannot or do not remain in the proper place, or the places to which they have been confined or assigned (ibid.: 87).
Thus, for Campt, the images challenge us to see in [them] everyday practices of refusal,
resistance, and contestation (ibid.: 112) of and against the very premises that have
historically negated the lived experience of Blackness as either pathological or
exceptional to white supremacy (Campt 2014: n.p.). Admittedly, relating Afro-pessimism concerned
predominantly with the structural positionality of Blackness in the United States to a concept of fugitivity developed with
respect to vernacular photography of Black diasporic life in Europe seems quite a stretch not only across different
Nevertheless, when we juxtapose
levels of abstraction but also across diverse geographies and histories.
the Black border in Afro-pessimism being proposed here with Campts concept of
fugitivity, we may imagine fugitivity as conceptualizing the lived experience of
Blackness as constant practices of refusal to accept and to remain within the
structurally ostracized position of social death. Fugitivity could then be understood as a
constant running up against Slaveness that instead of successfully crossing or overcoming
the Black border still remains on the outside of civil society where social death is located.
In fugitivity, Black freedom as the supposed end of social death may be expressed and
experienced, for instance through photography, but only as Fugitive Dreams as the title
of Hartmans last chapter of Lose Your Mother suggests (Hartman 2007: 211), without
ever reaching a position from where to lay claims to civil society that has defined
freedom as not Black/not Slave for hundreds of years. In this way, fugitivity as a figure
of thought enables us to accept the structural antagonism Afro-pessimism poses as well
as reflect on the strategies and expressions of Black survival, perseverance, and
sociability in an anti-black world, with the latter being unaccounted for in Afro-pessimism
and exemplarily analysed in Campts work. Yet by imagining fugitivity as running up against social death, I
cannot help but fall back on the assumption of some form of Black agency in relation to the Black border and the civil
society it encloses, a capacity that the concept of social death problematizes in Wildersons framework (Wilderson 2010).
No matter how tentatively I weigh my words to describe flight and the struggle to survive social death, the concept of
fugitivity still demises to the fugitive some capacity to act as a subject or agent. The question of agency obviously
inseparable from Black social life and arguably incommensurable with social death appears as a central fault line when
attempting to grapple with Black sociability and social death across the levels of structure and experience. The supposed
agency attached to the concept of fugitivity appears, however, reasonably different from the constrained agency of the
subordinate that the concept of the contact zone adopts. While Pratt would deem it possible to negotiate with and self-
representing against Wildersons white senior partners towards change, the fugitive practices of refusal and the stealing
away of the socially dead assume a more indeterminate form of agency. In fact, an Afro-pessimist analysis of the
structures that position Blackness as social death outside of civil society implies an utter lack of symbolic agency in
relation to that society. Within
this framework, fugitivity might merely comprise the capacity to
flee and struggle against the border between social death and civil life, without causing
more than reverberations of the otherwise intact border structure. Moreover, under the
auspices of Afro-pessimism, the fugitives running up against the border of social death
from outside civil society is not a matter of choice but rather appears as the crux of Black
social life doomed to social death. Understood in this way, Black sociability entails the
capacity to survive, live, and struggle, using Campts words, in places where it should
not be (Campt 2012: 91) and by extension seems almost congruent with fugitivity in
social death. However, fugitivity may conceptually account for fugitive experiences and
performances as Black social life only as long as the Black border remains intact and
still positions Blackness outside of civil society and the world as Slaveness. Consequently,
Afro-pessimism would deem crushing the Black border between Blackness-as-Slaveness and humanness as its
ultimate ambition. Since Wilderson renders imagining Black freedom against the backdrop of todays afterlife of slavery in
this antiblack world problematic, he maintains with Frantz Fanon that the world built on the demarcation of Blackness
from humanness would have to come to an end for Blackness to entail something other than social death (Wilderson
2010; Fanon 2008).[7] In other words, the antagonistic border regime of white supremacy and its junior partners that I
suggest Wilderson points out could only be overcome if said epistemological border structure would be completely
demolished. Fugitive Conclusions Interpreting central Afro-pessimist assumptions as a border concept might not only help
us to better understand Afro-pessimism. It also enables us to see how the premises of Afro-pessimism condensed in the
Black border differ from other well-known border concepts such as Pratts contact zone. When we conceptualize it as a
border, the theoretical demarcation Afro-pessimism offers between non-blackness and Blackness, freedom and un-
freedom, and white social life inside civil society and Black social death outside of it appears insurmountable and
absolute in its demarcation. The
Black border does not seem to allow for any dialectic relation
between the two sides other than as a structural antagonism that disregards the level of
experience. Fugitivity as elaborated by Campt might make it possible to account for Afro-
pessimist assumptions about social death and reflect on the persevering lived experience of
Blackness. In this way, fugitivity might be understood as a running up against the
absolute and impermeable border between social death and civil society that
nonetheless remains intact. Consequently, fugitivity refers to a struggle for the
transformation from Slaveness to freedom that is not within actual reach but sought
after as/in flight. The challenge thus becomes thinking fugitivity together with Afro-pessimism because the former
inevitably devolves a rudimentary capacity to act in this world onto the fugitive that Afro-pessimism would call into
question. This capacity, however, has not entailed choice or triggered structural change, but has paradoxically warranted
no more and no less than the enduring social life of the socially dead. In an Afro-pessimist framework, true agency would
presumably mean bringing about the end of the world, or the freedom dream of a blackened world in which all might
become unmoored, forging in struggle, a new people on a new earth (Sexton 2010: 223). To pay heed to the potential
realisation of this freedom dream in the form of the end of the world while focussing on fugitive acts of refusal against
social death within this world presents another important challenge of thinking fugitivity and Afro-pessimism together.
Instead of overriding the structural antagonism that locates Blackness outside of civil
society and condemns it to social death and Slaveness, I propose that we should
instead consider how the Afro-pessimist argument and the concept of fugitivity together
might bear the potential of regarding both social death and the enduring sociability of
Blackness. My hope, for want of a better word, is that fugitivity might indeed function as
a figure of thought that enables us to better appreciate fugitive practices of survival and
resistance in the face of social death, but only if we also bear in mind the momentous
challenges this fugitive thought experiment, which certainly needs further testing, abides.
Affirmative Answers
Education Policy Debate Good

Policy debates over education are critical to racial progress---BLM

education activism proves---policy analysis is key
James Ford 16, program director at the Public School Forum of North Carolina,
North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Education Must Be Part of the Movement
for Black Lives and Social Justice, 06/01/2016, Education Post //
Over the past few years the nation has become familiar with the phrase Black Lives Matter.
This is a declarative statement. An assertion of humanity that shouldnt have to be said
in the first place. It is also a grassroots activist movement emerging at least in part as a
response to extrajudicial violence against unarmed Black people by law enforcement
and vigilantes. It has raised the visibility of abuses of power visited upon Black bodies and exposed the underbelly
of institutional racism in our nation. Sadly, the education sector is not exempt. Thus far, most of the
movements energy has understandably been directed at the criminal justice system and reforming its practices. But this
is just one institution within a complex web of several that disadvantages Black people. As the movement for Black lives
continues to expand its reach, education must be central to the discussion of racial justice. Earlier this
year the U.N.s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent released a preliminary report about the treatment
of African-Americans in the U.S. It looked at many forms of structural inequality but directly implicated our education
system in perpetuating the problem. While
education is marketed as the great equalizer, we fail
as a nation to equalize educational opportunity for everyone. Race continues to be a
significant factor in determining student outcomes. Breaking this color-coded system of
advantage is going to require adopting a racial equity lens in at least a few areas of
education. As we work towards reforms in education, here are some areas we have to
consider. THE OPPORTUNITY GAP While people typically reference the achievement gap when discussing the
difference in academic performance between Black students and their White peers, its more reflective of a gap in overall
opportunity. Black people tend to rank at the bottom of most quality of life measuressuch as income, health care,
housing, food security, etc.causing a negative cumulative effect on student achievement. This proves that its not just
the well of education that is toxic, the groundwater is contaminated, too. Efforts must be made to combat underlying
social problems as a way of closing the opportunity gap for students. RESEGREGATION Sixty-two years after Brown
many of the nations schools are
v. Board of Education declared that separate is inherently unequal,
resegregating based on both race and classthis is occurring not only in traditional public schools, but
charters as welldespite the fact that 50-plus years of evidence has shown that integrated schools help close gaps and
improve outcomes over a lifespan. DISCIPLINE DISPARITIES Nationally, Black
students are suspended
or expelled from school at a rate three times that of White students (the rate is six times higher
for Black girls). This is especially prevalent in the South. The gaps in discipline are not only disproportionate but disparate
since many of the punishments are for subjective offenses (i.e., insubordination, aggressive behavior, etc.). These are
essentially judgment calls and relative to a persons perception. Implicit racial bias likely plays a major role in the
differential treatment of Black students, as they are routinely disciplined more harshly and fed into a school-to-prison
students have been overrepresented in certain
categories of special education for some time now. They are two to three times more likely to be
categorized as emotionally disturbed, intellectually disabled and mentally retarded than their White counterparts. This is
significant because it is likely the result of misdiagnoses, rooted in stigmas about the intellectual ability of certain racial
and ethnic groups. ACCESS TO RIGOR The belief gap prevents many Black students from gaining access to the most
challenging coursework. Students
of color are underrepresented in rigorous courses and
programssuch as gifted, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureateeven when controlling for the level
of readiness or aptitude. Outdated identification systems based on teacher referral leave room for stereotypes to influence
who is and is not seen as capable. TEACHER DIVERSITY Since 2014, the majority of students in public education are
non-White. Yet, 82 percent of the teaching workforce remains White, with only 7 percent of all teachers
being Black, and only 2 percent being Black males. It is important for students of color to see themselves reflected in the
profession as it not only offers tangible role models but helps improve academic performance as well. Greater efforts must
be made to recruit and retain Black teachers and make the teaching force more representative of the students.
CULTURALLY-RESPONSIVE PEDAGOGY With the rapidly changing demographics of the student body, teachers often
find themselves in classrooms with students whose culture is radically different than their own. Many are often ill-prepared
Making the
for how to relate to their students and teach in a way that is both rigorous and relevant to their lives.
learning space one that recognizes and dignifies the backgrounds of students is
necessary for content delivery to be effective. Without it, schools take on a colonial feel
where cultural indoctrination is part of the hidden curriculum. While its no surprise that many of
the most visible leaders of Black Lives Matter are themselves educators, the community must embrace a
broader educational platform to ensure this powerful confession rings true. Contrary to the ongoing
debate that school reform movement has become too focused on social justice, schools
are not divorced from the structural reality of racism. Educators have an ethical
obligation to wrestle with it. It is more a practical matter than a partisan one. Race-
consciousness belongs in the educational space, because color-blind reforms keep
reproducing color-coded outcomes. Elevating it as a focal point of education and applying
an equity lens when evaluating data, practice and policy is essential for diminishing its

Black political literacy is uniquely key to racial progress---grassroots

political activism drove successful education movements like Brown
v Board---unaffiliated movements merely fizzled out
Anthony Badger No Date, Professor of American History at Cambridge
University, Different Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement, Gilder Lehman
Institute of American History, https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/civil-
rights-movement/essays/different-perspectives-civil-rights-movement //
It is important to challenge the rather sanitized and safe image of a Civil Rights Movement that is celebrated in the annual
national holiday to mark Dr. Kings birthday. The
success of the remarkable social movement of the
1950s and 1960s was not simply the story of heroic nonviolent black protest and a
responsive white liberal judiciary and federal government. Nevertheless, the necessary revisions by
historians should not be allowed to obscure the radical achievement of King and the Civil Rights Movement. In fact,
revisionist historians overstate their case. The collapse of segregation in the South cannot be explained solely as the
inevitable result of economic modernization. Until the 1960s, southern businessmen believed that they
could maintain the traditional patterns of race relations in the South and also secure
dynamic economic growth. It was only in the early 1960s, with the growth of the Civil
Rights Movement, that they finally realized that racial tension was deterring outside
investment and that racial change would inevitably be imposed on the region. Then they took
the first steps to mediate the transition away from segregation in their communities. Nor did the Brown decision
halt any significant level of gradual racial change in the South. Before Brown, changes had
occurred only at the edges of segregation, while year after year, the core had remained intact.
Moreover, Brown was not the first impetus to violent white backlash. Even before the decision came down in 1954, such
backlashes had already broken out in response to black attempts to register to vote and to move into white suburbs. It is
true that McCarthyism helped destroy the left-led unions of the 1940s as well as groups like the Civil Rights Congress and
the Southern Conference for Human Welfare. But these groups were only part of the Civil Rights Movement of that era.
The patient campaign for voter registration in the southern cities and the NAACPs legal
challenge to segregation continued. It was when these campaigns failed to bring
satisfactory results in the 1950s that African Americans in the South turned to nonviolent
direct-action protest in Montgomery in 1955 and in Greensboro in 1960. It is also true that grassroots
activism was crucial in activating civil rights campaigns, in sustaining momentum for the
movement at critical periods, and, during the late 1960s, in translating legal gains into visible jobs, real school
desegregation, police protection, improved public services, and local political power. But grassroots activism was not
enough. African Americans needed the access to national political influence and media
attention that Martin Luther King Jr. brought. It was Kings campaigns at Birmingham and Selma
that led to the legislative victories of 1964 and 1965 that destroyed segregation. Despite the
heroism of black and white activists during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, by the end of that summer, fewer
than 1,000 African American voters and less than 6 percent of voting-age blacks in the state had been registered.
However, withinthree years of the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, over 60 percent
of Mississippis blacks were registered to vote.

Social movements for USFG policy changes are key to create

transformation---empirically proven
Mark Warren 14, associate professor of public policy and public affairs at
University of Massachusetts Boston, Transforming Public Education: The Need
for an Educational Justice Movement, 09/22/2014, New England Journal of
Public Policy, Volume 26, Issue 1 //
Transformational change, especially in situations of power inequalities and oppressive
structures, requires a social movement. By social movement in this context, I mean
collective action by oppressed or marginalized people to build power to win changes in
government policy and public attitudes that advance the cause of social justice. Movements
transform unequal power arrangements in part by demanding recognition, voice, and
participation. Social movements create shifts in cultural attitudes and public discourse
and so are necessary to combat the stereotypes and low expectations facing children of
color in education, on the streets, and in the media. Successful movements seek out allies and
work to build a larger societal consensus for change. In this way movements build power
but also appeal to the hearts and change the minds of the majority. By putting forward a
concrete agenda for change and a vision for a more just and equitable society, movements
shift the dominant discourse and cultural patterns. Discrete initiatives in program or policy change cannot
produce this kind of transformational change in public education. Rather, a social movement has the
potential to galvanize a broad public consensus for a far-reaching and deep approach to
education reform connected to forthright efforts to address poverty and racism. In other
words, a social movement is necessary to transform public education itself and to
connect this transformational effort to a larger movement to combat poverty and racism.
The United States once undertook such a large-scale and broad effort at improving education
as it also made great strides in combating poverty and racial discrimination. In the sixties
and seventies, in large part as the result of the civil rights movement, the nation invested
heavily in public education as it created new social programs and broke down barriers to education
and employment for African Americans, Latinos, and other groups. By the midseventies, urban schools
spent as much as suburban schools, while childhood poverty rates fell dramaticallyto
below the levels of today. As Linda Darling-Hammond has recently argued, this comprehensive and well-resourced
approach worked. The
achievement gap in reading scores between black and white
students was cut in half and was also reduced substantially in math; for a short time black
college attendance rates were comparable to white rates. With the retrenchment in social programs and affirmative action
that began in the 1980s, however, progress in educational improvement for black and Latino children largely stalled and
the achievement gap actually grew again in the 1980s. Since then, any progress that has been made on the racial
achievement gap has been swamped by the growth of the socioeconomic class gap discussed earlier.

Grassroots political movements are important to stop corporations

from taking over education
Jesse Hagopian 16, associate editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, Black
to School: The Rising Struggle to Make Black Education Matter, 09/08/2016,
Truthout //
Indeed, billionaire philanthrocapitalists have upended education over the past 15 years by
backing a series of major policy changes -- codified in the No Child Left Behind Act, the Race to the Top
initiative and the Common Core State Standards. These policies have badly damaged education for
all kids and have had particularly harmful effects on Black and Brown communities. Today,
increasing numbers of people have discovered that these reforms are in reality efforts to turn the
schoolhouse into an ATM for corporate America. While their program for corporate reform
is being eroded by research and rising grassroots movements, the corporate reformers
are clinging to one last glossy brochure in the public relations portfolio -- the one with
photos of Black youth on the cover and promises that all of these reforms are really
about civil rights and defending kids of color. The president of the pro-corporate reform group
Democrats for Education Reform, Shavar Jeffries, scolded the NAACP for its opposition to charters: "It's a divide between
families who are served by charters and see the tangible effects that high-quality charters are having, and some who don't
live in the inner-city communities, where it becomes more of an ideological question versus an urgent life-and-death issue
for their kids."
Reform Possible/Good

There are multiple examples of black activist movements that worked

within the political
SPENCE 16, Lester K. Spence is an Associate Professor of Political Science
and Africana studies at Johns Hopkins University known for his academic
critiques of neoliberalism and his media commentary on race, urban politics, and
police violence. Feb 24, 2016 KNOCKING THE HUSTLE against the neoliberal
turn in black politics Pages 140-147
First all occurred at a moment where all seemed lost. While I wouldnt go as far as to suggest that these events suggest
that neoliberalism is naturally contestedjust as there is no good teaching gene there is no contest neoliberalism
geneI would say that while the neoliberal turn has signifcantly altered our ability to argue for public goods, it hasnt
killed that ability. It still exists. It exists in institutions we have written of thinking they are no longer relevantlike teachers
unions. It exists in populations weve written of because we believe they are incapable of radical political action black
youth. It exists in cities that we dont think of as having a long history of radical political struggle like Jackson,
Mississippi. Second all three recognized the fundamental role politics played in their struggles. The
black youth
organizers recognized that they had to pressure Maryland state legislators to kill the
prison. The black radicals in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement made electing
Chokwe Lumumba a component of their organizing. The CTU chose to take the city
head on and to hold a series of town hall meetings designed to inform people of the
ways political officials, philanthropists, and corporations are working together to
neoliberalize and kill public education. The #blacklivesmatter movement recognized that
politics was at the center of their struggle in Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere. All
campaigns used moral language in making their arguments. In Jackson they argued that the
current way power was allocated in Jackson was immoral because it largely concentrated all of the benefts into a few
(predominantly white) hands. In Baltimore they argued that putting $104 million to the goal of incarcerating youth was
immoral given the lack of money being spent on youth in other areas, and later that life chances. Te Malcolm X
Grassroots Movement worked for years to build the critical capacity required to elect Chokwe, frst to the City Council, then
Mayor, and to put the political platform into action. There is no way to get around the fact that the type
of work we have to do to rebuild a sense of the public interest is going to take a long
time and has to start by building connections between people who may not think of
themselves as political, who may not think of the various issues they struggle with as
being the product of the neoliberal turn, who may not know what neoliberalism is. What I
am referring to here is not the same as getting people to attend a rally or a march. Im referring to political
organizing building the capacity of people to govern and make important political
decisions for themselves not political mobilizing. Mobilizing people for a protest act of one kind or
another may get people out to engage in a specifc act, but unless combined with organizing work, will not cause those
people to organize for themselves.

Reformism key to check anti-blackness society is always in flux

and policy helps shapes societal norms
Eddie Glaude 16, Professor of African American Studies and Religion at
Princeton, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves
But Goldwater failed to realize that governmental indifference can harden hearts, and
government action can create conditions that soften them. People's attitudes aren't static or
untouchable. They are molded by the quality of interactions with others, and one of the great
powers of government involves shaping those interactions-not determining them in any
concrete sense, but defining the parameters within which people come to know each other
and live together. Today, for example, most Americans don't believe women should be confined to the home raising
children, or subjected to crude advances and sexist remarks by men. The women's-rights movement put pressure on the
government, which in turn passed laws that helped change some of our beliefs about women. Similarly, the relative
Change emerged from
progress of the 1960s did not happen merely by using the blunt instruments of the law.
the ways those laws, with grassroots pressure, created new patterns of interactions, and
ultimately new habits. Neither Obama's election to the presidency nor my appointment as a Princeton professor
would have happened were it not for these new patterns and habits. None of this happens overnight. It takes time
and increasing vigilance to protect and secure change. I was talking with a dose friend and he
mentioned a basic fact: that we were only fifteen years removed from the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when
Ronald Reagan was elected president and Republicans began to dismantle the gains of the black freedom struggle.
Civil rights legislation and the policies of the Great Society had just started to reshape
our interactions when they started to be rolled back. We barely had a chance to imagine
America anew-to pursue what full employment might look like, to let the abolition of the
death penalty settle in, to question seriously the morality of putting people in prison cells,
and to enact policies that would undo what the 1968 Kerner Commission described as
"two Americas" before the attack on "big government" or, more precisely, the attack on
racial equality was launched. The objective was to shrink the size of government ("to starve the beast") and to
limit its domestic responsibilities to ensuring economic efficiency and national defense. Democrats eventually buckled,
and this is the view of government, no matter who is in office, that we have today. It has become a kind of touchstone of
faith among most Americans that government is wasteful and should be limited in its role-that it shouldn't intrude on our
lives. Politicians aren't the only ones who hold this view. Many Americans do, too. Now we can't even imagine serious talk
of things like full employment or the abolition of prisons. We
have to change our view of government,
especially when it comes to racial matters. Government policy ensured the vote for
African Americans and dismantled legal segregation. Policy established a social safety
net for the poor and elderly; it put in place the conditions for the growth of our cities. All
of this didn't happen simply because of individual will or thanks to some abstract idea of
America. It was tied up with our demands and expectations. Goldwater was wrong. So was
Reagan. And, in many ways, so is Obama. Our racial habits are shaped by the kind of society in which
we live, and our government plays a big role in shaping that society. As young children, our
community offers us a way of seeing the world; it lets us know what is valuable and sacred, and what stands as virtuous
behavior and what does not. When Michael Brown's body was left in the street for more than four hours, it sent a dear
message about the value of black lives. When everything in our society says that we should be less
concerned about black folk, that they are dangerous, that no specific policies can
address their misery, we say to our children and to everyone else that these people are
"less than"-that they fall outside of our moral concern. We say, without using the word, that they are
niggers. One way to change that view is to enact policies that suggest otherwise. Or, to put
it another way, to change our view of government, we must change our demands of
government. For example, for the past fifty years African American unemployment has been twice that of white
unemployment. The 2013 unemployment rate for African Americans stood at 13.1 percent, the highest annual black
unemployment rate in more than seventy years. Social scientists do not generally agree on the causes of this trend. Some
attribute it to the fact that African Americans are typically the "last hired and first fired." Others point to changes in the
nature of the economy; still others point to overt racial discrimination in the labor market. No matter how we account for
the numbers, the fact remains that most Americans see double-digit black unemployment as "normal." However, a large-
scale, comprehensive jobs agenda with a living wage designed to put Americans, and explicitly African Americans, to
work would go a long way toward uprooting the racial habits that inform such a view. It would counter the nonsense that
currently stands as a reason for long-term black unemployment in public debate: black folk are lazy and don't want to
work. If
we hold the view that government plays a crucial role in ensuring the public good-
if we believe that all Americans, no matter their race or class, can be vital contributors to
our beloved community-then we reject the idea that some populations are disposable,
that some people can languish in the shadows while the rest of us dance in the light. The
question ''Am I my brother's or my sister's keeper?" is not just a question for the individual or a mantra to motivate the
private sector. It is a question answered in the social arrangements that aim to secure the goods and values we most
cherish as a community. In other words, we need an idea of government that reflects the value of all Americans, not just
white Americans or a few people with a lot of money. We
need government seriously committed to
racial justice. As a nation, we can never pat ourselves on the back about racial matters.
We have too much blood on our hands. Remembering that fact-our inheritance, as Wendell Berry said-does not amount to
beating ourselves over the head, or wallowing in guilt, or trading in race cards. Remembering our national sins serves as
a check and balance against national hubris. We're reminded of what we are capable of, and our eyes are trained to see
that ugliness when it rears its head. But when we disremember-when we forget about the horrors of lynching, lose sight of
how African Americans were locked into a dual labor market because of explicit racism, or ignore how we exported our
racism around the world-we free ourselves from any sense of accountability. Concern for others and a sense of
responsibility for the whole no longer matter. Cruelty and indifference become our calling cards. We have to isolate those
areas in which long-standing trends of racial inequality short-circuit the life chances of African Americans. In addition
to a jobs agenda, we need a comprehensive government response to the problems of public
education and mass incarceration. And I do mean a government response. Private
interests have overrun both areas, as privatization drives school reform (and the
education of our children is lost in the boisterous battles between teachers' unions and
private interests) and as big business makes enormous profits from the warehousing of
black and brown people in prisons. Let's be clear: private interests or market-based
strategies will not solve the problems we face as a country or bring about the kind of
society we need. We have to push for massive government investment in early childhood
education and in shifting the center of gravity of our society from punishment to restorative
justice. We can begin to enact the latter reform by putting an end to the practice of jailing children. Full stop. We didn't
jail children in the past. We don't need to now. In sum, government can help us go a long way toward uprooting racial
habits with policies that support jobs with a living wage, which would help wipe out the historic double-digit gap between
white and black unemployment; take an expansive approach to early childhood education, which social science research
consistently says profoundly affects the life chances of black children; and dismantle the prison-industrial complex. We
can no longer believe that disproportionately locking up black men and women constitutes an answer to social ills. This
view of government cannot be dismissed as a naive pipe dream, because political
considerations relentlessly attack our political imaginations and limit us to the status quo.
We are told before we even open our mouths that this particular view won't work or that it will never see the light of day.
We've heard enough of that around single payer health care reform and other progressive policies over the Obama years.
Such defeatist attitudes conspire to limit our imaginations and make sure that the world stays as it is. But
those of us
who don't give a damn about the rules of the current political game must courageously
organize, advocate, and insist on the moral and political significance of a more robust role for
government. We have to change the terms of political debate. Something dramatic has to
happen. American democracy has to be remade. John Dewey, the American philosopher, understood this:
The very idea of democracy, the meaning of democracy, must be continually explored afresh; it has to be constantly
discovered and rediscovered, remade and reorganized; while the political and economic and social institutions in which it
is embodied have to be remade and reorganized to meet the changes that are going on in the development of new needs
on the part of human beings and new resources for satisfying these needs. Dewey saw American democracy as an
unfinished project. He knew that the aims and purposes of this country were not fixed forever in the founding documents,
but the particular challenges of our moment required imaginative leaps on behalf of democracy itself .
undemocratic forces might prevail; tyranny in the form of the almighty dollar and the
relentless pursuit of it might overtake any commitment to the idea of the public good; and
bad habits might diminish our moral imaginations.
Pragmatism is the only ethical orientation for academics to take in
the era of Trump
Connolly 16, William E. Connolly, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political
Science at Johns Hopkins University, Donald Trump and the New Fascism, The
Contemporary Condition,
comparisons between earlier fascist movements and those now could (and should) be

developed much further. For instance the similarities and differences between the movements in
the United States, France, the UK, Germany and Turkey deserve close scrutiny. But my
question today is this: Now that such a movement is underway big time, now that its
resonances roll across large swaths of the white working class, urban police departments,
small town residents, recovering neoliberals, veteran organizations, the right edge of
evangelism, rural outposts, and other sites, what can be done to pull some of those
constituencies in different directions and to improve strategic responses to those that
remain. Because even if Hillary Clinton wins this electiona result not at all certain given the
contingency of events and her major vulnerabilitiesthe resonances Trump has crystallized
may well remain a potent force. He is on the verge of transfiguring the
evangelical/neoliberal/fossil fuel/financial/judicial/dog whistle machine that has been so
powerful in the States for several decades into a neofascist resonance machine that
refigures a few neoliberal priorities to draw the white working class, veteran groups, small
town residents, and rural constituencies more robustly into its orbit. The old machine will not be replaced, then, but
transfigured, with a few old free market priorities jostled to mix an intensification of nationalist, supremacist, protectionist, and Christian forces more explicitly into it. Here are a few thoughts about

while structural racism is the most severe injustice in this

how to fight off this combination. Others are surely needed: First,

regime, the less severe but real plight of the white working class must also be addressed. It has been
caught between weak state efforts to respond to the neglect of urban areas, policies that siphon most of the income and wealth advances into the hands of a very small minority, and pluralizing

Those of us who
forces that pass it by. Bernie Sanders started pursuing policies that would speak to the white working class, African Americans and other minorities together.

care about all these constituencies must now press actively for programs that reduce income
inequality, support job security, universalize retirement benefits and support universal
health care. Perhaps the best place to start is to work closely with labor unions, urban leaders,
and public school teachers on these issues, as well as to work to restructure the
infrastructure of consumption (see # 4). For fascist drives become exacerbated when economic insecurity grows, labor unions are demeaned and public
education is weakened. Such a condition fits the U.S. today, in a situation where neoliberal courts give extravagant freedom to corporations while regulating and confining labor severely.
Moreover, Bernie was right in his call to convert free trade laws into fair trade agreements. The existing agreements have played a role in the deindustrialization of America. New laws, for instance,
could make it impossible for a corporation to leave the town or city that had invested so much in it until it paid back those subsidies. The bias of bankruptcy laws against workers and in favor of
corporations also requires overhauling. Second, the rhetoric of fascism must become a topic of close exploration, as more of us also learn how to work on the visceral register of cultural life in
ways that generate nonviolent counter-energies and aspirations. Close study of how talk shows on the Left do their work is indispensable here. Freeze framing, repetition, concentration on the
gestures and facial demeanor of neofascist speakers, those are merely some the techniques to study. Freeze frame that Trump triumphant smile to expose the narcissism and ruthlessness it

expresses. The Left also needs to nurture more prophetic and charismatic leaders of its own.
Bernie, Cornel West, and Elizabeth Warren provide effective role models here, but many more
voices are needed. The worst idea is to laugh off fascist rhetoric. For, as some previous antifascist movements have
found to their deep dismay, there is never a vacuum on the visceral register of cultural life. If we dont become better at
working on that register in non-manipulative ways other parties will move in during times of high anxiety. Third, it is essential to call out thinly veiled appeals to violence, urban police cover-ups,
and military violence whenever they emerge. This, perhaps, is the one task that has been pursued most effectively during the recent campaign. Fourth, the corporate media, with the exception of
key figures on Fox News, does resist some of the most severe modes of nationalism and white triumphalism. But have you noticed how seldom labor leaders, local community organizers, etc., are
called upon to diagnose issues and expose new possibilities? Rather, we get a proliferation of party hacks and retired security analysts. I exempt Democracy Now from these charges, but

it is a
sustained pressure is needed to get democratic activists onto the key news networks as we also participate in and improve the visibility of internet engagements. Fifth,

difficult but imperative task to publicize how radical changes in the state supported
infrastructure of consumption can simultaneously expose how much the state is already
involved in the corporate organization of consumption options, help poor and working class
people to make ends meet, take an important step toward reducing inequality, and
respond to the generic peril of climate change. Ecology and climate change are not merely white middle class issues; they are Urban, African
American, White Working Class, Native American, and Rural issues too. Activists such as Naomi Klein, Wangari Mathaii, Rob Nixon, John Buell and others have pushed this insight. The

disasters in Flint, Michigan and other urban zones dramatize it. The task now is to bring these
lines of development into closer coordination with one another. Fascist movements
percolate and resonate during times of high anxiety when several previously entitled
constituencies have been left holding the bag. The movements are organized around
exclusionary nationalism, a police state mentality, white supremacy, bellicose militarism,
exclusionary rhetoric, and assaults on democracy.
AT State Link

The state isnt universally anti-black, even if reforms are imperfect

they materially improve the condition of black lives
Randall L. Kennedy 14, Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at the Harvard Law
School, "Black America's Promised Land: Why I Am Still a Racial Optimist",
American Prospect, http://prospect.org/article/black-americas-promised-land-
I am hopeful first and
Beneath the malaise is a deep current of racial pessimism that has a long history in American and African American thought

foremost because of the predominant trajectory of African Americansa history that John Hope Franklin
framed with the apt title From Slavery to Freedom. In 1860, four million African Americans were enslaved while another half-million were free but devoid of
fundamental rights in many of the jurisdictions where they lived. In 1860, the very term African American was something of an oxymoron because the Supreme

But within a decade, the

Court had ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that no black, free or enslaved, could be a citizen of the United States.

Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment (1868)

established birthright citizenship and required all states to accord all persons due
process and equal protection of the laws, and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870)
prohibited states from withholding the right to vote on account of race, color, or previous
condition of servitude. People who had been sold on the auction block as youngsters helped to govern their locales as public officials when they
were adults. In 1861, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi resigned from the United States Senate to join the Confederate States of America, which he led as president.
In 1870, Hiram Revels, the first black member of Congress, occupied the seat that Davis abandoned. The First Reconstruction was overwhelmed by a devastating

But the most fundamental reforms it established proved resilient, providing

white supremacist reaction.

the basis for a Second Reconstruction from the 1950s to the 1970s. During that period,
too, the distance traveled by blacks was astonishing. In 1950, segregation was deemed to be consistent with federal
constitutional equal protection. No federal law prevented proprietors of hotels, restaurants, and other privately owned public accommodations from engaging in
racial discrimination. No federal law prohibited private employers from discriminating on a racial basis against applicants for jobs or current employees. No federal
law effectively counteracted racial disenfranchisement. No federal law outlawed racial discrimination in private housing transactions. In contrast, by 1970 federal

The 1964 Civil Rights Act forbade racial

constitutional law thoroughly repudiated the lie of separate but equal.

discrimination in privately owned places of public accommodation and many areas of

private employment. The 1965 Voting Rights Act provided the basis for strong
prophylactic action against racial exclusion at the ballot box. The 1968 Fair Housing Act
addressed racial exclusion in a market that had been zealously insulated against federal
regulation. None of these interventions were wholly successful. All were compromised. All
occasioned backlash. But the racial situation in 1970 and afterwards was dramatically
better than what it had been in 1950 and before. Today, at a moment when progress has stalled, we need to recall how
dramatically and unexpectedly conditions sometimes change. Until recently whod-a thunk it possible for the president to be an African American? In the 1980s, I
used to ask law students how long affirmative action programs ought to last. Champions of such programs, seeking to ensure their longevity, would say that
affirmative action would be needed until the country elected a black president. That reply would elicit appreciative laughter as listeners supposed that that formula
would preserve affirmative action for at least a century. But then along came Barack Obama and with him the remark that soon became a clich: I never thought

Changes in public
that Id live to see a black president. Obamas election is much more than a monument to one politicians talent and good fortune.

attitudes, law, and custom have clearly elevated the fortunes of African Americans as
individuals and black America as a collectivity. Hard facts may give plausibility to the
pessimistic tradition, but they make the optimistic tradition compelling. Despite the many wrongs that
remain to be righted, blacks in America confront fewer racist impediments now than ever before in the history of the United States. The courage, intelligence,
persistence, idealism, and sacrifice of Fannie Lou Hamer and Rosa Parks, Julian Bond and Bob Moses, Medgar Evers and Bayard Rustin, Viola Liuzzo and
Vernon Dahmerand countless other tribunes for racial justicehave not been expended for naught. The facts of day-to-day life allow blacks to sing more
confidently than ever before James Weldon Johnsons magnificent hymn Lift Every Voice and Sing, often referred to as the Black National Anthem: Sing a song
full of the faith that the dark past has taught us Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us
march on till victory is won. My optimism involves more than a sociological prediction. I am also swayed by my intuition regarding which of these hypothesesthe
pessimistic or the optimisticwill do the most good. Hope is a vital nutrient for effort; without it, there is no prospect for achievement. The belief that we can

Optimism gives buoyancy to thinking that might

overcome makes more realistic the possibility that we shall overcome.

otherwise degenerate into nihilism, encourages solidarity in those who might otherwise be
satisfied by purely selfish indulgence, invites strategic planning that can usefully harness
what might otherwise be impotent indignation, and inspires efforts that might otherwise be
avoided due to fatalism.
AT Education Link

Education should be seen as a liberatory practice for black youth it

enables revolutionary strategies that can create real change
Jonathan Stith 15, founding member and National Coordinator for the Alliance
Educational Justice, Addressing the School to Prison Pipeline: Why Education Is
the Liberation of Black Youth, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-
There is a war going on outside that no Black youth is safe from. Most recently, weve seen this war
played out through the extrajudicial killings of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and other
victims of state-sanctioned violence. But we also know it through the devastation of mass incarceration under New Jim
State violence against Black youth doesnt end in the
Crow policies and the War on Drugs.
streets with police. Its in our public education system and its killing our children. We charge
Mentacide and demand an end to the war on youth. Mentacide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a groups
minds with the ultimate objective being the extirpation of the group, according to Black psychologist and political activist,
Dr. Bobby E. Wright. In other words, if mentacide is the method, genocide is the goal. State violence is government power
that hurts, government power that harms. It is the violent indoctrination that in America, for Black children, learning means
learning to stay in your place. The same lesson the Little Rock Nine learned when trying to integrate Central High School
almost over half century ago is the same one youth learn today. The national guard of yesterday has been replaced with a
school-to-prison pipeline that suspends Black youth at three times the rate of their White peers, but the end result is the
same: immediate annihilation or compulsory assimilation to teach Black youth their place. Education is the earliest form of
state violence Black youth endure. The Department of Defenses 1033 program equips school police with all the grenade
launchers and tanks they can haul while our students scramble to find guidance counselors and books. The federal
government has denounced the school to prison pipeline while continuing to fund it. Before his fateful encounter with
George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin was suspended in school for carrying a plastic bag. Had it not been for his schools
overly punitive approach to discipline, he wouldnt have even been in Sanford that night. Philadelphias 12-year old
Laporshia Massey fell victim to gross and barbaric inequitable school funding. This same state violence killed 12 year old
Philadelphia student Laporshia Massey, who couldnt survive an asthma attack because Governor Corbett reduced
education funding and the city couldnt afford to have a school nurse on duty. Mentacide explains state violence and self-
destructive, intracommunal violence as two bullets towards the same target. Personal
violence is often a
symptom of structural violence. Schools that experience the most interpersonal violence
are also the most underfunded and neglected. Only mentacide can explain why a Howard University
Charter School Principal would have police escort three history teachers out of class for teaching Black History. Violence
is any set of conditions that limit or restrict the chances of young people to lead successful and healthy lives. Violence is
in the system, not the students. In
order to dismantle the school to prison pipeline and end the
mentacide of Black youth, we need a radical transformation. According to that National
Education Statistics, this year marks a watershed year and an important demographic shift
in public education. Children of color have become the majority in schools. With this new
shift, we need a new approach to schooling. We need to (re)public education. Education
is liberation is call to the transformative power of education that braved enslaved Africans to
learn to read and write under threat of death, inspired Black politicians to universalize public
education during Reconstruction, conceived Citizenship Schools, birthed Freedom Schools in
Mississippi and developed Liberation schools from Black Panther breakfast programs in
Oakland. It requires of us to do as the quintessential teacher and youth organizer, Ella Baker taught: In order for us as
poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to
be radically changed... It means facing a system that does not lend its self to your needs and devising means by which
you change that system. Well
know black lives matter when we realize this vision of education
as liberation and our children get the schools they deserve.
Anti-blackness isnt totalizing learning can act as a site for black
marronage and futigivity instead of black suffering
Leigh Patel 16, professor in the Department of Teacher Education, Special
Education, Curriculum and Instruction at Boston College, Pedagogies of
Resistance and Survivance: Learning as Marronage,
Learning is, at its core, a fundamentally fugitive act, underscored with deeper fugitivity in
societies where the dangerous, agentic act of learning is constricted with punishing precision.
Learning as fugitivity exists as dialectic to the stratifying cultures of formal education that
insist on contingent possibilities for well-being for some and unmitigated safety for others. The
oft-noted achievement gap displays these contingent relationships. Against this backdrop of stratified life, learning exists
in direct defiance of the rhetoric of achievement. It is around us and part of many of our histories, as are requisite histories
of access to and foreclosure from school-based achievement. A signi cant challenge for educators and educational
research is actually seeing the fugitive acts of learning and being able to di erentiate those moments of unruly rupture
from the seductive mollification of school-based achievement.
Ascertaining the fugitive acts of learning as
they occur, this edited issue of Equity & Excellence in Education speaks out loud and
theorize how learning is often a place of resistance and in that resisting, a place of
survivance (Vizenor, 1999). I was raised by parents who had radically different relationships with school and learning.
My father migrated to the United States from South Asia in 1958, with a bachelors degree in hand, to pursue his masters
degree in chemical engineering. For the rst part of his professional life, he did as formal edu- cation wants one to do and
regularly bellows as its province: He ascended. He connected to other profes- sionals through the social networks
established in graduate school and company afiliations, he studied the vocabularies and practices of people in higher
stations, and he attempted to approximate those posi- tions, in part, through his use of cultural referents and turns of
phrase. He was an excellent student in school and applied those same skills of acquisition of knowledge when learning
the culture of corporate America in the early 1960s. However, instead of upward mobility, failure became the turgid feature
of his professional life. After a certain point of attainment, contingencies, collateral damage, and descent marked his
career. His ability to apply the many lessons learned while a student bore little fruit societally, and little came to supplant it.
My mother did not attend school beyond third grade in her town of Gujurat because there is little reason to formally
educate girls when their predetermined roles were to be wife, mother, and household runner. If anything, formal education
gets in the way of those roles. My mother came to the U.S. without knowing any of the alphabet used here, let alone the
sounds and the associative meanings of words. She taught herself the language and culture, as many migrant women do,
by watching daytime soap operas and venturing out further and further into this strange new world. She did so, in part,
because she had to but also because she has always embodied a learning spirit, which is to say, a restless and often
painfully transforming spirit. The learning she was forced to engage in, as well as the learning she chose for herself,
fundamentally changed her. Learning standardized academic English and the craft of sewing indelibly transformed her.
Her world shifted, and
The latter would help support the household after my fathers career came to its demise.
she, accordingly, had to become a different self in relation to this transformed world. This
involved learning, leaving what she had known and who she had been. In short, it
involved fleeing. Although depicted overly neatly here, my parents stories present two sides of a deeply
schizophrenic coin that learning and education have come to occupy in societies that stratify well-being for some and risk
for others. These
two narratives only provide a glimpse into the much longer, much more
complicated history of contingent relationships with citizenship, Whiteness, and class
found in migration histories from South Asia to North America. A longer historical understanding of
South Asians in the United States would include the ways that working class South Asians migrated to the United States
in the early twentieth century, taking up camaraderie and even collective political organizing within Mexican and Black
communities (Bald, 2013). When migration laws changed to seek, reward, and protect professional classes, specifically
engineers, the composition of South Asians in the U.S. shifted to populations like the Patel clan of Gujarat, a population
that is now seeking governmental protected status in India. In 1910, South Asians were unequivocally prohibited from the
category of Whiteness in the United States. A century later, they have been put in proximity to Whiteness, largely through
formal education, and this proximity helps to fuel anti-Black model minority myths. This shift in social station contains
lessons about the unanticipated wounds in icted on learning when societal station and the drive for even higher station
supplant community and transformation. In the settler colony structure of the United States, formal education is invoked,
with overbearing frequency, as the arbiter of social mobility. This hologram of education is deeply
connected to, if not sourced directly from, the national narratives of meritocracy, social
advancement, and more fundamen- tally, progress and discovery. As a settler colony,
ideas of progress signal a state, meaning both a condi- tion of and government, of
exceptionality. Being exceptional works to justify and historicize the ongoing racialized
societal structure of land theft, human subjugation, and wealth accumulation. From my
fathers vantage point, when the processes that he learned in school, to study and reproduce practices, did not result in
either durable wealth accumulation or comfortable professional intimacy with those who held that wealth and position, the
world turned out to be a rather sour place. He himself soured at not being able to access this allure of exceptionality. This
is a familiar story for many who have bought into the structural promise of formal education only to have it withheld due to
the more fundamental structure of racist capitalism, which desperately needs strati ed well-being and su ering. In fact, a
cursory grasp of the generational hold of vulnerable social status should cast a skeptical shadow on the rhetoric of oppor-
tunity and achievement. Societal, generational vulnerability is experienced through upheaval and threat of upheaval in
housing (Delmont, 2016), incarceration (Alexander, 2012), school closure and overhaul (Buras, 2011), casualization of
labor, and proliferation of privatization in myriad sectors of societies. All of these vectors exist in a racial capitalist global
order (Da Silva, 2007; Du Bois & Edwards, 2008) that emphatically denies racial logics despite glaring realities. A thirst for
an impossible state of Whiteness was certainly the most salient ingredient in my fathers desire for and obstruction from
societal status. Situat- ing his relationship with formal education and the accompanying racial capitalist societal structure
shows how threadbare the settler narratives of linearity, progress, and mobility are when juxtaposed against the reality of
institutionalized racism. Even though he held power as a man in a patriarchal order, he was still a Brown man, a small
Brown man among large White men and, larger still, Whiteness. Although the narrative of upward mobility is one of linear
progress and fairness, the direct function between formal education and societal safety is subterfuge. My mothers
interaction with learning was embodied more by chaos than neat, linear progression from one station in life to the next.
But di erent from the bankrupt promise of social mobility for those who perform well in school, her narrative displays
lessons about the fundamentally fugitive nature of learning. As she learned a new language and taught herself a trade by
reading and closely observing and experimenting, she changed, in essence, who she was. These transformations of self
were mostly self-initiated but that did not mean they were easy. She sought new knowledge, and sometimes resisted it, as
many do, because she inveighed that new ideas, new ways of being in the world, are nothing less than disruptive. Yet her
conditions and her spirit demanded disruption after disruption. As my fathers relationship with work and his ability to earn
an income destabilized, what she had been taught to do societally, which was cook, care for, and be subservient to her
husband, would not have sustained the home. Her experiences of learning were made necessary and departed from the
socialization she had experienced. When my mother began to learn tai chi in her 70s, it marked, truly, the rst practice that
she had ever engaged exclusively for her own edi cation. It did not result in monetary sustenance, as had learning the
craft of sewing decades earlier. It did not mean a more easy household maintenance, as learning various changing
technologies throughout the decades had. It did not mean basic survival, as learning English had meant as the only
Gujurati-speaking woman in her rst American locale of Indi- anapolis in 1960. Learning tai chi meant no less than learning
how to position herself rst, which involved rupturing decades of training to second herself. It was unruly, and in the wake
of beginning this practice, my mother experienced surface-level depression and frustration for the rst time in her life.
Prioritiz- ing tai chi for herself meant, prioritizing herself in essence, unpredictably; she also opened herself up to an
emotional terrain that had been present before but bracketed to a side station. She asked for none of that emotional
experience when she began tai chi and was unsettled by it. It was a powerful but not necessarily pretty picture. Learning,
as it turns out, involves unpredictability. Its consequences are often unruly in their unwill- ingness to be contained. Chaos,
then, was certainly a feature of my parents learning. The chaos in my fathers life ultimately soured his relationship with
formal education and the di erent chaos in my mothers relationship to herself and the world through learning throw into
sharp relief how far apart for- mal education is from learning. Formal education demands mastery for the promised
purpose of success, but more regularly delivers on the implicit purpose of strati cation. Learning demands a
transformation of oneself for impacts and consequences that are fundamentally unpredictable. One of the key functions
that education performs in hierarchical societies is sorting people into their respective societal positions: owner, laborer,
manager. In a settler colonial structure, though, education must also do the additional unseemly work of justifying or
blurring societal structures through narratives of societal promise, constant opportunity, and self-rationalizing myths of
meritocracy. These are the narratives that mark the place of formal education in the United States. They are as vital as
oxygen to the violent structures of land seizure and attempts to erase Indigeneity and reduce Blackness to chattel. Settler
colonialism, with its architecture of racist capitalism, relies on narratives that blur its purposeful inequitable violence.
Unfortunately, educations capitulation to the settler narratives of progress, upward mobility, and exceptionalism have
deterred it from protecting spaces for unruly, transformative learning. Education
is in woeful need of robust
theories of learning. Only in a eld that has obliquely refused to examine how extensively
it contributes to societal disadvantage can those cast on the underside of humanity
(Wynter, 2003) be told that they merely need to be grittier or have a growth mindset.
Concomi- tant to these shallow understandings of societal structures are imsy theories of
learning that con ate learning and pedagogy for test score production. Astoundingly,
education pursues the elimination of the racial achievement gap as if it can do so
disconnected from its own production of this gap or from its deep connection to the elds
of incarceration, housing, employment, and health that all manifest strati- ed realities of
population-level harm. This myopia is replete in the racist capitalist society of the United
States. Racism continues to be ideated as individually perpetuated, and this protected
misunderstanding permeates societal institutions, particularly applied elds like education.
Learning and life, though, cannot be contained by such structures. Preceding and within
various forms of colonialism, learning has found side streets to skirt the four-lane
government-sanctioned highways. While enslaved peoples were banned from becoming
literate (Monaghan, 1998) in the U.S., literal under- ground libraries and schoolrooms
were created. Marron enclaves in Jamaica would sequester a few work- ers at a time to
engage in rest and political education, creating an undercommons (Harney & Moten, 2013)
rumbling under the structure of plantation life. Assata Shakurs biography mimics the
partial tales relayed in slave narratives. These tellings invoke lessons but keep lots of
details loose in order to protect the fugitive spirit of the ideas (Hames-Garcia, 2004).
Across all of these example, the points of departure, of ight, are in dialectic relationship
to power structures that seek to disallow such ight. Learning is transformational, but it
also becomes distinctly fugitive when attempted to be squelched. Learning under racist
capitalism as acts of marronage Political scientist and historian Neil Roberts (2015) posits that the dialectics of
slavery and freedom are under-theorized to address oppressive societies and associative, unpredictable marron
practices. Marronage is a practice of freedom that must, necessarily, start from the condition and category of enslavement
in order to transgress it. Working through connective conceptualizations of enslavement, disavowal, freedom, and agency,
Roberts argues that historical and theoretical nuance has been absent in theorizing freedom as marronage from slavery.
The repetitive fight for sovereignty must be considered, even if it is squelched
repeatedly, in the cumulative. It is in the cumulative that its relentless expression of
freedom can be viewed. The actions, beliefs, and ideals of slave masses, good and
bad, are, in a repeating circular logic, habitually ignored. We must remove the
epistemological cataract (Roberts, 2015, p. 115) that obscures the fugitive logic within and across these
evasions. Pedagogical practices of resistance and survivance must, similarly, be apprehended, set still temporar- ily in
order to be viewed, in their dialectical relationship to formal, oppressive structures of schooling. Learning that seeks to nd
a side street from the test score production factory mill of schooling does so in dialectical relationship to the factory. It
sources, temporarily and liminally, its sense of being in relation to the oppressive stratifying structures of formal education.
Learning as resistance within a context that creates and contains Black and Brown
student bodies and accumulates property rights for a few, cannot be su ciently described
without addressing the intermittent departures from those structures. Neither can the
structures of oppression be adequately understood without pedagogical practices of
resistance. Education has always had the potential to serve and shield spaces of unruly
learning. Perhaps a rst step into this potential is seeing more clearly the fugitive acts of
learning as they occur within oppressive structures.

Be optimistic about STEM black youth can get involved and change
societal perceptions
Danielle Hildreth 15, dont worry about it, Why STEM Education is so Important
for African American Youths, https://lasentinel.net/why-stem-education-is-so-
I know the untapped potential for greatness that our young people possess just waiting to be
explored and unleashed. The time to explore that greatness is now and STEM education
(science, technology, engineering and math) is an excellent path to get there. As such, it is of the
utmost importance that we advocate for our students and ensure that schools adhere to
the STEM Education Act of 2015 to advance STEM studies in inner city schools. The STEM
Education ACT of 2015 (H.R. 1020), is a legislative policy that seeks to improve educational performance in American
schools by enhancing the math and science curriculum and school programs. The goal of the STEM Education Act is to
improve STEM instruction in preschool through 12th grade, supplement STEM education through afterschool
partnerships, decrease the disproportionality of a White, male dominated STEM culture and to create a opportunities for a
diverse STEM labor force (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). Its no secret that African American consumers spend an
obscene amount of money on technology. We marvel at the sight of toddlers maneuvering I Pads searching for their
favorite Aps, however, their proficiency to peruse Aps make them more a consumer relative to an inventor. Understanding
the algorithm behind the Aps is what makes one an inventor. As African Americans we hail from a long line of inventors,
and it is time to add more names to that list. STEM education is our new Traffic Light, our new Straightening Comb.
Just as these great inventions by Garrett Morgan and Madame C.J. Walker
revolutionized millions of lives many years ago, STEM education also has the potential
to enhance the lives of future generations. Moreover, the economic advantages of STEM
careers are even more rewarding. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University Center on
Education and the Workforce, approximately 65 percent of wage earners with Bachelors degrees in STEM fields earned
more than Masters degrees employees in non-STEM occupations. The wage difference is so significant that 47 percent
of Bachelors degrees in STEM occupations earn more than PhDs in non-STEM careers (usnews.com, 2012). We
should be as optimistic about STEM education as we were that historic day in 2008 when
Barack Obama was inaugurated. Let STEM be the new voice of Hope and Change in our
communities. We should not allow a racist in a long, black robe or a disgruntled college reject to define who we are.
Stand tall, know your worth and take advantage of the opportunities presented before
you. Our nation would thrive if STEM education was inclusive of all its citizens.

Programs exist that can help black youth get into STEM programs
without causing backlash and re-entrenching harmful stereotypes
Joseph P. Williams 14, Staff Writer at USNews, Bringing STEM Education to
Underserved Communities, https://www.usnews.com/news/stem-
Different educational programs, with different sponsors, based in different parts of the
country. But they all share a single goal: using innovative methods to bring STEM - science,
technology, engineering and math - education to minority students from underserved
communities. The nation is suffering from a lack of full participation in STEM, says Dr.
Freada Kapor Klein, co-founder of the Oakland, California-based Level Playing Field
Institute. In order to fill the tech- and science-focused jobs of the future, STEM industries need to focus on becoming
more diverse now. Science and tech fields are currently dominated by white and Asian males, and minorities in
underserved or struggling school districts are at risk of being left behind, a scenario that has far-reaching economic
consequences for the United States. Unlike
their more affluent counterparts, students who live in
underserved communities typically lack access to what are now considered STEM
basics: up-to-date laboratories, laptop or tablet computers and access to the Internet. On
college campuses, black and Latino students make up less than 20 percent of those studying in science- or math-based
disciplines. On the job, however, minorities make up less than 5 percent of the STEM-based workforce, according to 2012
statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. At the same time, the U.S. has languished for a decade on global
assessment tests measuring 15-year-old students math and science proficiency, scoring out of the top 20, well below
countries like Lichtenstein and Singapore. More bad news: Within the next decade, according to economists projections,
China, South Korea and India will produce well over half of the worlds engineers and scientists, with the U.S. contributing
well below 10 percent. Unless it ramps up STEM education for all students -- including kids who struggle to obtain it now -
- the U.S., once dominant, will fall further behind the world in the fast-growing global technological economy. Tell me
in what industry where you dont have to do something using computers, says Jay
Sweeney, principal at the Advanced Math and Science Academy, a STEM charter
school in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Even lawyers and Wall Street traders have to
analyze data, problem-solve and think critically, he points out, So were developing
skills for any avenue.


Frank B. Wilderson 16, its Wilderson, The Inside-Outside of Civil Society: An
Interview with Frank B. Wilderson, III,
You know, Ive been doing political education
So thats a hurdle that we have to overcome.
workshops for Black Lives Matter in New York and Los Angeles, and probably will do
more in Chicago. And what I hope to have people do workshop exercises around is this
concept that I have called Two Trains Running (Side by Side). By that I mean, you can
do your political organizing that will help us get relief from police brutality right now. We
need that. We need that. But that work that we do should be seen as puny in terms of its philosophical and
theoretical orientation so that we can educate ourselves politically to be against the police as an institution and against the
United States as a country, even while we are working to reform police practices, because we do not have the strength
right now that we had in the 1960s and 1970s to act in the way the Black Liberation Army did, or Baader-Meinhof, we do
not have the strength to act in the revolutionary mode, but that lack of strength, that lack of capacity, should not
We should not feel that we have to accept the existence of police even
contaminate our orientation.
if were working in reformist measures politically. Hopefully this idea of two trains running will pick up.
Black Lives Matter has done a great job in opening up a new Black political organizing space.
Thats great. Now lets use that space for an educational project that is soundly anti-American,
and soundly anti-police even if tactically, we have to work for police reforms.
Natives Aff Perm

Permutation do both indigenous and anti-black suffering are

analogous which means the liberation strategy of the aff is in line
with the ethics of the alternative
Eve Tuck et al 16, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies
at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Julie A. Gorlewski, Department
chair and associate professor, Teaching and Learning at VCU, Racist Ordering,
Settler Colonialism, and edTPA: A Participatory Policy Analysis,
In the United States and other slave estates, the remaking of land into property was/is
accompanied by the remaking of (African) persons into property, into chattel (Spillers,
2003; Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wilderson, 2010; see also King, 2014 on Black life as
fungible). To attend to the specificity of antiblackness and its fusing to Indigenous erasure through settler colonialism
is to set aside the catchall term racism. It is to recognize that, as Holland (2012) observes, (W)hen we see and say race,
regardless of how much we intend to understand race as being had by everyone, our examples of racial being and racist
targets are often grounded in black matter(s) In this instance, the black body is the quintessential sign for subjection, for a
The remaking of land and
particular experience that it must inhabit and own all by itself. (p. 4, emphasis in original)
bodies into property is necessary for settlement onto other peoples land. Discourses and
practices of property and dispossession are central to the hegemonic relations of settler
colonialism and slavery in the United States. Implications Thus, in our view, analyses of settler
colonial dispossessions are incomplete when they do not connect Indigenous erasure and
antiblackness. Logics of settler colonialism insist that Indigenous peoples disappear at the
same time that they require Black life to be kept landless. Settler colonialism is a network of
structures, narratives, and justifications which promote the ascendancy of settler ontologies,
especially of property and state violence against Indigenous peoples and Black peoples. Frank
Wilderson (2010) points to the antagonisms built into the ways that Indigenous peoples can access humanity and the
ways that Black peoples are blocked from accessing humanity because of the ways that their relationships to land are
By attending to settler colonial dispossessions rather than
differently structured in settler colonialism.
theories of dis- possession related to colorism or capital accumulation (alone), it is
possible to see dispossession as not just material but always also connected to possible
relations to place and land. In theorizing and using a settler colonial construc- tion of
race, we bring together the otherwise seemingly disconnected phe- nomena of
Indigenous erasure and Black life as ungeographic (McKittrick, 2006; see also Tuck et al., 2014). The
full version of the alternative edTPA scoring tool that we created will soon be available as part of a book-length discussion
of this study, but in service of this discussion, we share about one section, on social context. As noted, Pearsons
implementation and scoring of the edTPA ignored all aspects of race, class, or gender expression, even in a required
section called Context for Learning. Because standardized evaluations also set standards/expecta- tions, leaving out the
prompt for teacher candidates to attend to issues of race and racism in their performance assessment materials devalues
this type of reflection among new teachers. In contrast, understanding that a scoring tool can have a normalizing power
over discourse and practice, our scoring tool makes explicit reference to issues of race, dispossession, power, and
privilege in the classroom. Our scoring tool evaluates the degrees to which diverse students/families are treated with
respect; students lives are woven into the curriculum; the syn- ergy between classroom community and students cultural
communities is fostered; and multiple forms of intelligence and creativity are encouraged. In our scoring tool, teacher
candidates are expected to address issues of repre- sentation, lived experience, connectedness, and dignity. Our scoring
tool, because it is informed by understandings of settler colonial constructions of race, emphasizes dignity and
connectedness as practices which can be performed and observed. Our collective engaged in nuanced discussions about
how these practices can be performed and observed, which always came back to how teachers meet students in place
and time. Locating this meeting within a context of settler colonialism which is premised upon the erasure of Indigenous
peoples and Black life as no where breaks open other questions, How to welcome without re-settling? How to
communicate belonging without ownership? How to make place without dispossessing others? These are the types of
questions that become possible when settler colonialism, Indigenous erasure and survivance, and antiblackness and
Black resistance are imbued in educational policy analysis. Four Calls for Education Policy Analysis What
we hope
readers will understand from this is that education policy analysis that just points to
neoliberalism is not enough in terms of social explanation. Critiques of neoliberalism
often take racism for granted, as an a priori condition of modernity. Thus, education
policy analyses which culminate in a critique of neoliberalism can easily skip over the
material effects of ongoing settler colonialism, how different bodies are differently
racialized, and how those made other in race-based stratifications might otherwise relate
to one another. Policy solutions that result in technologies of assessment such as edTPA reify inequities related to
fictions of race, racism, and antiblackness. In a sense, then, teacher education faculty who participate uncritically in the
implementation of these policies perpetuate the fiction of race. Detractors might say that this is an overstatement, that it
puts too much on both edTPA and Schools of Education. Indeed, the words race and racism do not appear in any edTPA
materials or prompts. Yet, as Ruthie Wilson Gilmore (2015) reminds us of the status quo, What is the status quo? Put
simply, capitalism requires inequality and racism enshrines it . . . Although it has become mildly mainstream to decry
outrages against poor people of color, the new new realists achieve their dominance by defining the problem as narrowly
as possible in order to produce solutions that on closer examination will change little. (n.p.) The edTPA as it has been
adopted in New York State is exactly a case in which the problem has been defined so narrowly that the solutions it will
produceteachers who have passed a standardized performance assessment without any occasion to reflect on the
roles of race and racism in classrooms or schoolswill change little to affect the everyday racist ordering of life in the
United States. Locating
education analyses within a larger analysis of settler colonialism and
antiblackness attends directly to the roles of race and racism in formation and
implementation of policy. Leigh Patels (2015) recent work has raised useful questions
about the prospects of ever securing what others refer to as racial jus- tice (including
Keisch & Scott, whom we quote above). Patel (2015) writes, Much as it would seem somewhat logical to
seek redress of racialized violence and dehumanization through racial justice, that is exactly the kind of ) wrong-headed
remedy born of a society that is overly constricted by both race as a construct and loose ideas of justice. (n.p.) Patel
writes of race as an invention to establish and maintain injustice, and such an invention cannot be refashioned to establish
justice. Patel (2015) disbelieves the notion that fiction birthed to enact, meter out, and discipline human from inhuman
can be the source of humanity. Patel, reading the his- tory of constructions of race as justifications for theft of Indigenous
land and enslavement of Black people does not see race as a construct that can be redeemed. Instead, Patel (2015)
urges us to disrupt that fiction, decenter Whiteness, and focus on the humanity, the history, the psychology, the unde-
niable vibrancy, the embodied beingness of black and brown peoples. We close this article with four calls, messages out
to the universe about what we hope to see from our colleagues and students who do education pol- icy analysis: A. We
call for more participatory policy analyses among faculty in Schools of Education about education policy, especially
policies which affect our teacher candidates, their students, and the terms of our labor. We encourage Schools of
Education to counter analyses that preserve and reinforce solutions that focus on increasingly narrow interpretations of
problems. We hope our colleagues will engage in collective investigations of policy origins,
implementations, and consequences must explicitly addressand seek to interrupt
settler colonial logics. Critical policy analysis rooted in understandings of settler colonial-
ism, Indigenous erasure and survivance, and antiblackness and Black resistance is a
promising lens for beginning such work. B. We call for a more robust theorizing of race in
education policy analy- sis. Policy analysis that does not engage in theorizations of race
serves to reify existing fictions about teaching, learning, and achievement. Ignoring race
amounts to an acceptance of racism, antiblackness, and Indigenous erasure as natural and
normal, as conditions related to an achievement gap that can be ameliorated by adopting
conceptions of time and space consistent with Whiteness and neoliberal reason. Rather than
disregarding race, we call for increased and intense attention to how race and racism are embedded in policy as written
and enacted. C. In
particular, we call upon our colleagues to seriously contend with settler
colonialism by combining an analysis of Indigenous erasure with antiblackness. When
foundations of injustice are rhetorically dis- connected rather than understood as related,
they can be perceived as distinct, bounded by socially constructed categories. Such a
conception reifies distinctions that lead to specific definitions of problems that inevitably are traced to individual and
cultural deficits. Contending
with settler colonialism by attending to Indigenous erasure and
antiblackness counteracts abstract liberalism through explicit consideration of how social
constructions operate to maintain the status quo.
Not ontological

Anti-blackness is structured politically, not ontologically, their

understanding results in bad faith which serves only to sustain anti-
black power structures
Lewis Gordon 17, professor of philosophy at UCONN-Storr, professor of
philosophy at the University of the West Indies at Mona, The Oxford Handbook
of Philosophy and Race
*French non-sense was translated by google

Should the analysis remain at white and black, the world would appear more closed than it in
fact is. For one, simply being born black would bar the possibility of any legitimate
appearance. This is a position that has been taken by a growing group of theorists
known as Afro-pessimists (Wilderson 2010; Sexton 2011). Black for them is absolute
social death: li is outside of relations. Missing from this view is; however, is at least
what I argued in Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism, which is that no human being is
really any of these things; the claim itself is a manifestation of mauvaise foi [bad faith].
The project of making people into such is one thing. People actually becoming such is
another. This is an observation Fanon also makes in his formulation of the tone of
nonbeing and his critique of SelfOther discourses in Peau noir, masques blancs (Black
Skin, White Masks). Fanon distinguishes between the zone of nonbeing (nonappearance as human beings) and
those of being. The latter presumes a self-justified reality, which means it does not call itself into question. The former
faces the problem of illegitimate appearance (Fanon 1952, chapters; Gordon 1999; AIcoir 2006; Yancy 2008). Thus, even
the effort to be is in conflict as the system in question presumes legitimate absence of certain groups. Yet, paradoxically,
the human being comes to the fore through emerging from being in the first place. Thus,
the assertion of being is also an effort to push the human being out of existence, so to speak. The racial conflict is
thus changed to an existential one in which an existential ontology is posed against an
ontology of being. Existential ontology pertains to human being, whereas ontological being pertains to gods. This
is why Fanon concludes that racism is also an attack against human being, as it creates
a world in which one set stands above others as gods and the rest as below human.
Where, in this formulation, stand human beings? The argument itself gains some clarity
with the etymology of existence which is from the Latin expression exsstere (to stand
out, to emerge -that is, to appear). Blacks thus face the paradox of existing (standing out) as
nonexistence (not standing out). The system of racism renders black appearance illicit. This
conundrum of racialized existence affects ethics and morals. Ethical relations are premised on
selves relating to another or others. The others must, however, appear as such, and they too, manifest themselves as
selves. Implicit in such others as other selves is the formalization of ethical relations as equal. as found in the thought of
Immanuel Kant and shifted in deference to the other in that of Emmanuel Levinas, Racism, however, excludes certain
groups from being others and selves (if interpreted as being of a kind similar to the presumed legitimate selves).
the schema of racism is one in which the hegemonic group relates to its members as
selves and others, whereas the nonhegemonic groups are neither selves nor others. They,
in effect, could only be such in relation to each other. It is, in other words, a form of ontological segregation as a condition
of ethics and morals. The fight against racism, then, does not work as a fight against being
others or The Other. It is a fight against being nonothers. Fanons insight demands an additional
clarification. Racists should be distinguished from racism. Racists are people who hold beliefs about the
superiority and inferiority of certain groups of racially designated people. Racism is the system of institutions
and social norms that empower individuals with such beliefs. Without that system, a racist
would simply be an obnoxious, whether overtly deprecating or patronizing, individual. With that system,
racist points of view affect the social world as reality. Without that system, racists ultimately become inconsequential and,
in a word, irrelevant beyond personal concerns of saving their souls from unethical and immoral beliefs and choices.
Fanon was concerned with racists in his capacity as a psychiatrist (therapy, if necessary), but he was also concerned with
racism as a philosopher, social thinker, and revolutionary (Fanon 1959/1975). The latter, in other words, is a system, from
an antiracism perspective, in need of eradication. An objection to the Afro-pessimistic assertion of
blackness as social death could thus be raised from a Fanonian phenomenological
perspective: Why must the social world be premised on the attitudes and perspectives of
antiblack racists? Why dont blacks among each other and other communities of color count as a social
perspective? And if the question of racism is a function of power, why not offer a study of power,
how it is gained and lost, instead of an assertion of its manifestations as ontological? An
additional problem with the Afro-pessimistic model is that its proponents treat blackness
as though it could exist independent of other categories. A quick examination of double
consciousness (Du Bois 1903)a phenomenological concept if there ever were one by virtue of the focus on forms of
consciousness and, better, that of which one is conscious, that is, intentionality would reveal why this would not
work. Double consciousness involves seeing oneself from the perspective of another that
deems one as negative (for example, the Afro-pessimistic conception of blackness). That there is already
another perspective makes the subject who lives through double consciousness relational. Added is what Paget
Henry (2005) calls polemic, ted double consciousness and Nahum Chandler (2014, 6o6i) calls the redoubled gesture,
which is the realization that the condemnation of negative meaning means that one must not do what the Afro pessimist
does. Seeingthat that position is false moves one dialectically forward into asking about
the system that attempts to force one into such an identity: This relational matter
requires looking beyond blackness ironically in order to understand blackness. This means
moving from the conception of meaning as singular, substance-based, fixed, and semantical into the grammar of how
meaning is produced. Such grammars, such as that of gender, emerge in interesting ways (Gordon 1999, 124129;
1997,7374). However, as all human beings are manifestations of different dimensions of
meaning, the question of identity requires more than an intersecting model; otherwise
there will simply be one (a priori) normative outcome in every moment of inquiry:
whoever manifests the maximum manifestation of predetermined negative intersecting
terms. That would in effect be an essence before an existence indeed, before an actual
event of harm. This observation emerges as well with the Afro-pessimist model when one thinks of
pessimism as the guiding attitude. The existential phenomenological critique would be that optimism and pessimism are
Human existence is contingent but not
symptomatic of the same attitude: a priori assertions on reality.
accidental, which means that the social world at hand is a manifestation of choices and
relationships in other words, human actions. Because human beings can only build the future
instead of it determining us, the task at hand, as phenomenologyoriented existentialists from Beauvoir and
Sartre to Fanon, William R. Jones, and this author have argued, depends on commitment. This concern also pertains to
the initial concerns about authenticity discourses with which I began. One could only be pessimistic about an outcome, an
activity. It is an act of forecasting what could only be meaningful once actually performed. Similarly, one could only be
optimistic about the same. What however, if there were no way to know either? Here we come to the foi [faith] element in
mauvaise foi [bad faith]. Some actions are deontological, and if not that, they are at least reflections of our commitments,
our projects. Thus, the point of some actions is not about their success or failure but whether we deem them worth doing.
Taking responsibility for such actionsbringing value to them is opposed to another
manifestation of mauvaise foi [bad faith]: the spirit of seriousness. The spirit of seriousness
involves attributing a form of materiality to human values that elides the human role in the
construction of those values. Detailed analyses of this form of mauvaise foi [bad faith] in Africana
phenomenology emerges in the thought of George Yancy (2008) and this author (Gordon 1995,
1997, 1999, 2000). The importance of this concept pertains to the understanding of racism as
a social phenomenon but also as a value. It addresses what Abdul JanMohamed (2011) calls our
social investments in such phenomena. Returning to the distinction between racists and
racism, the former are what existentialists such as Sartre and Beauvoir call serious people and the
latter is the system that supports such values as supposedly objective features of reality.
In other words, the formers values are preserved in the latter as ontological. The turn to
social reality raises an important theme of Africana phenomenology, and, indeed, all phenomenological treatments of
oppression: Discussions of race and gender make no sense without a philosophical anthropology. In Africana philosophy,
the answer is straightforward: Euro-modernity denied the humanity of whole groups of people, which means the question
of what it is to be human was crucial. These considerations emerged not only in colonial and racist terms but also at
reflective levels of method as hegemonic models of "science" began to dominate concerns for legitimacy. Many such
models were premised, however, on ideological frameworks in which greater value was placed on "purity" in which
mixture is supposedly "impure." The result is a philosophical anthropology in search of so- called purity as a standard of
not only human value but also identity.
Kimberly Crenshaw (1991) offers a critique through her
work on intersectionality in legal theory. Examples in Africana phenomenology include Michael Monahan's
The Creolizing Subject (2011), Jane Anna Gordon's Creolizing Political Theory (2014), and writings by this author (Gordon
1997, 2006, 2010). Thearguments they advanced reject any philosophical anthropology of
converging "purities," where separate, pure "races" meet. Instead, the notion of racial
purity is rejected from the outset. The authors, however, go further, as with the
discussion of intersectionality, to propose questions of mixture at methodological levels.
It is the appeal to methodological purity that obscures lived realities of mixture. In other
words, the actual human world is not one of purity (being-in-and-by-itself) but instead relations of living
negations of purity (existence, being-and-negations-of-and-for-being, and more). Monahan and J. Gordon prefer the term
creolizing for this reason because it is, they contend, a radical kind of mixture-one that in effect manifests not only new
forms of being but also challenges the stasis of being. Their use of the present participle is to illustrate that mixing-
especially of the licit and the illicit-is not a closed achievement but instead an ongoing activity of reality. From their
argument, purity, like normativity, is an effort of imposing closure on the openness or, as Fryer
contends (2008), queer dimensions of reality. Put differently, ascribing ontological status to
purity and straightness does not work. It requires, in effect, denying the elements of reality
that do not match up and involves attempting to force reality into a preferred or pleasing
falsehood instead of a (for the purist) displeasing truth. In effect, creolizing militates against disciplinary
decadence or, in other words, mauvaise foi [bad faith]. As the context is human reality, the conclusion of Africana
phenomenology presenting an open anthropology comes to the fore. This openness raises one of the
final ingredients, if we will, for this discussion: the relationships between humanity and freedom. The freedom question is
paradoxical: to be free means also to possess the ability to evade it. This is what critics of this approach, premised on a
phenomenological treatment of mauvaise foi miss. Existential phenomenology collapses into an essentialism, they
protest, because of the assertion of human reality as freedom. Others also read discussions of mauvaise foi as appealing
to an essential unavoidability collapsed into futility. What they fail to ask, however, is what human reality would be if
human beings were incapable of acting in mauvaise foi. Could a being incapable of attempting to evade its freedom truly
be free? Would not the absence of that capability mean human beings must essentially act in good faith? What, then,
would happen to freedom? And if there were no freedom, wouldn't human beings simply have a nature that poses none of
the recognizable human problems because human behavior would already be determined? These considerations
occasion what could be called an indirect proof: Human freedom exists by virtue of our efforts to evade it. This kind of
argument is also, by the way, a form of transcendental argument as it points to a condition for the possibility of what is
being studied. This kind of transcendentalism, where existence and conditions of possibility meet, could also be called
ironic as it is premised on what "is" by virtue of what it is not. Peter Caws (1992), in his discussion of Sartre's structuralism
in his debate with Levi-Strauss, reminds us that the aim of bringing human responsibility to human relations is a plea for
the realization of the human role in a human world. It is structure in human terms, which means it requires a philosophical
anthropology premised on metaevaluation, metacritique, metatheory, and incompleteness. I regard all this as a way of
saying that Euro-modernity posed challenges to what it means to be human, free, and responsible for the conditions by
Race, gender, class, and sexuality, from this perspective, can be
which any practice as such is justified.
illuminated through these three considerations, but we should remember that, as
illumination, we receive only part of the story as these categories and their relationship to
each other are, from this approach, still in the making. There could, in other words, be more
categories to come as the relationship across the extant human identities continue to shift
and disorient what it means to be human.
Confining black liberation to political rejection delegitimizes
progressive potential--- keeps the current political stationary
Kline 17, David Kline is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Rice
University. His research addresses issues in political theology, biopolitical
thought, and critical race theory. The Pragmatics of Resistance Framing Anti-
Blackness and the Limits of Political Ontology,
Furthermore, arriving at the second analytical expense of Wildersons prioritization of political ontology, I suggest that
such a flattening of the social field of Blackness rigidly delimits what counts as legitimate
political resistance. If the framework for thinking resistance and the possibility of creating
another world is reduced to rigid ontological positions defined by the absolute power of
the law, and if Black existence is understood only as ontologically fixed at the extreme
zero point of social death without recourse to anything within its own position qua Blackness,
then there is not much room for strategizing or even imagining resistance to anti-
Blackness that is not wholly limited to expressions and events of radically apocalyptic
political violence: the law is either destroyed entirely, or there is no freedom. This is not to say that I am
necessarily against radical political violence or its use as an effective tactic. Nor is to say that I think the law should
be left unchallenged in its total operation, but rather that there might be other and more
pragmatically oriented practices of resistance that do not necessarily have the absolute
destruction of the law as their immediate aim that should count as genuine resistance to
anti-Blackness. For Wilderson, like Agamben, anything less than an absolute overturning [End Page 59] of the order
of things, the violent destruction and annihilation of the full structure of antagonisms, is deemed as [having nothing] to do
with Black liberation (quoted in Zug 2010). Of course, the desire for the absolute overturning of the currently existing
world, the decisive end of the existing world and the arrival of a new world in which Blacks do not magnetize bullets
the severity and gratuitous nature of the macropolitics of
should be absolutely affirmed. Further,
anti-Blackness in relation to the possibility of a movement towards freedom should not
be bracketed or displaced for the sake of appealing to any non-Black grammar of
exploitation or alienation (Wilderson 2010, 142). The question I want to pose, however, is how the insistence on
the absolute priority of framing this world within a rigid structure of formal ontological positions can only revert to what
amounts to a kind of negative theological and eschatological blank horizon in which actually existing social sites and
modes of resisting praxis are displaced and devalued by notions of whatever it is that might arrive from beyond. It seems
that Wilderson, again, is close to Agamben on this point, whose ontological structure also severely delimits what might
count as genuine resistance to the regime of sovereignty. As Dominick LaCapra points out regarding the possibility of
liberation outside of Agambens formal ontological structure of bare life and sovereignty, A further enigmatic conjunction in
Agamben is between pure possibility and the reduction of being to mere or naked life, for it is the emergence of mere
naked life in accomplished nihilism that simultaneously generates, as a kind of miraculous antibody or creation ex nihilo,
pure possibility or utterly blank utopianism not limited by the constraints of the past or by normative structures of any sort.
(LaCapra 2009, 168) With lifes ontological reduction to the abjection of bare life or social death, the only possible way
out, it seems, is the impossible possibility of what Agamben refers to as the suspension of the suspension, the laying
aside of the distinction between bare life and political life, the Shabbat of both animal and man (Agamben 2003, 92). It is
in this sense that Agamben offers, again in the words of LaCapra, a negative theology in extremis . . . an empty
utopianism of pure, unlimited possibility (LaCapra 2009, 166). The result is a discounting and devaluing of other, perhaps
more pragmatic and less eschatological, practices of resistance. With
the all or nothing [End Page 60]
approach that posits anything less than the absolute suspension of the current state of
things as unable to address the violence and abjection of bare life, there is not much left
in which to appeal than a kind of apocalyptic, messianic, and contentless eschatological
future space defined by whatever this world is not.
Blackness range outside of the idea of ontology
Kline 17, David Kline is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Rice
University. His research addresses issues in political theology, biopolitical
thought, and critical race theory. The Pragmatics of Resistance Framing Anti-
Blackness and the Limits of Political Ontology,
Focusing on Wilderson, his absolute prioritization of a political onto-logical structure in which
the law relegates Black being into the singular position of social death happens, I contend,
at the expense of two significant things that I am hesitant to bracket for the sake of prioritizing political
ontology as the sole frame of reference for both analyzing anti-Black racism and thinking resistance
within the racialized world. First, it short-circuits an analysis of power that might reveal not only
how the practices, forms, and apparatuses of anti-Black racism have historically
developed, changed, and reassembled/reterritorialized in relation to state power,
national identity, philosophical discourse, biological discourse, political discourse, and so
onchanges that, despite Wildersons claim that focusing on these things only mystify the question of ontology
(Wilderson 2010, 10), surely have implications for how racial positioning is both thought and resisted in differing historical
and socio-political contexts. To
the extent that Blackness equals a singular ontological position
within a macropolitical structure of antagonism, there is almost no room to bring in the
spectrum and flow of social difference and contingency that no doubt spans across
Black identity as a legitimate issue of analysis and as a site/sight for the possibility of a
range of resisting practices. This bracketing of difference leads him to make some rather sweeping and
opaquely abstract claims. For example, discussing a main characters abortion in a prison cell in the 1976 film Bush
Mama, Wilderson says, Dorothy will abort her baby at the clinic or on the floor of her prison cell, not because she fights
forand either wins [End Page 58] or losesthe right to do so, but because she is one of 35 million accumulated and
fungible (owned and exchangeable) objects living among 230 million subjectswhich is to say, her will is always already
subsumed by the will of civil society (Wilderson 2010, 128, italics mine). What I want to press here is how Wildersons
statement, made in the sole frame of a totalizing political ontology overshadowing all other levels of sociality, flattens out
the social difference within, and even the possibility of, a micropolitical social field of 35 million Black people living in the
United States. Sucha flattening reduces the optic of anti-Black racism as well as Black
sociality to the frame of political ontology where Blackness remains stuck in a singular
position of abjection. The result is a severe analytical limitation in terms of the way
Blackness (as well as other racial positions) exists across an extremely wide field of
sociality that is comprised of differing intensities of forces and relational modes between
various institutional, political, socio-economic, religious, sexual, and other social
conjunctures. Within Wildersons political ontological frame, it seems that these conjunctures are excludedor at
least bracketedas having any bearing at all on how anti-Black power functions and is resisted across highly
differentiated contexts. There is only the binary ontological distinction of Black and Human being; only a macropolitics of
sedimented abjection.

Black life already precedes the gratuitous violence of an antagonism

Kline 17, David Kline is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Rice
University. His research addresses issues in political theology, biopolitical
thought, and critical race theory. The Pragmatics of Resistance Framing Anti-
Blackness and the Limits of Political Ontology,
In terms of Wildersons ontology of social positioning, we might say, following Foucault and Deleuze
into Fred Motens Black optimism,7 that Black (aleatory) life always already precedes the
gratuitous violence of an antagonism. Blackness, then, is not wholly reducible to a
political ontological position, but rather is the movement prior to and against the
imposing force of any violent constitutionor, as Nathanial Mackey says, that insistent previousness
evading each and every natal occasion (Mackey 1986, 34). Even though an antagonism functions as the
political ontological constitution of a Black being as socially dead in relation to civil
society, there is still an even deeper level that precedes ontological constitution itself: the
movement and resistance of Black life.8 In In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition,
Moten makes inseparable Blackness and resistance with this provocative opening sentence: the history of blackness is a
testament to the fact that objects can and do resist (Moten 2003, 1). Flowing in the vein of Adornos anti-identitarian
negative dialectics and its prioritization of the object, Moten reads the history of Blackness, which for him is nothing other
than a history of certain performativity as improvisation, as a history of the objects absolute objection to the capture of
identity, the fugitive drive towards freedom where an untraceable, stateless, and ungoverned life of improvisational
immanence is always becoming (ibid., 255n1). Not ignoring or bracketing the problem of political ontological antagonism
(although he does reject describing it in terms of social death), he nevertheless opens the frame of analysis and social
possibility to the aleatory field of life itself, or, micropolitics.
Tracing the Black radical tradition through
everything from its poetry to its music to its banal everydayness, Moten shows
Blackness as a counter-force sparked into movement by the imposing and regulating
force of anti-Black power. In critical yet sympathetic opposition to Wilderson and other
Afro-pessimists, Moten rejects the notion that a full analysis of Blackness should be
reduced to the imposition of social death. Or, to put it another way, Moten rejects the
notion that Blackness is reduced to a fixed ontological position within a macropolitics that
has no recourse to [End Page 62] forms of life that might resist and evade the imposition
of an antagonism. Rather, Blackness is a counter-force to ontology itself. As he puts it,
blackness [is not (just)] ontologically prior to the logistic and regulative power that is
supposed to have brought it into existence but . . . blackness is prior to ontology; or in a
slight variation of what [Nahum] Chandler would say, blackness is the anoriginal
displacement of ontology, that it is ontologys anti- and ante-foundation, ontologys
underground, the irreparable disturbance of ontologys time and space. (Moten 2014, 739)
Here, Moten is riffing on Chandlers idea of paraontology, which is in specific distinction from political ontology.
Paraontology, as Moten describes it, is the transformative pressure blackness puts on philosophical concepts,
categories, and methods (Moten 2008, 215n3). Rather than an account of being that seeks to uncover an essence or
totalizing account of a particular social or political position, paraontology describes the mode of being that is always
already resisting the imposing logic of (political) ontology. Chandler articulates this phenomenon through Du Bois double
consciousness, honing in on the in between of its double identity. As he says, between would delimit any simple notion
of its spatiality or presupposed relationality. It would instead accede to the most general disruption of boundaries. . . .
[B]etween dissipates any simple notion of inside and outside, of above and below. . . . Du Boiss inscription may be
understood to name the opening of the sense of space, of spaciality, rather than confirm it. (Chandler 2014, 67)
Chandler is describing the way Blacknessin all of its social scope and complexityoverflows or breaks open the
boundaries of any formal imposition, the way Blackness cannot be reduced to a frame of abjection or the irreconcilable
position of an antagonism. From this perspective, Blackness is a rhizome, a dynamic, creative, and desiring counter-force
in which lines of flight present possible modes of freedom and sociality in excess to political ontological positioning. As a
paraontological phenomenon, Chandler and Moten understand Blackness as a unique and specific exertion within
modernitywhich might also be called the historical regime of racial political ontologythat challenges every schema of
formalization and [End Page 63] positional fixity. In this way, from this vantage, the history of Blackness is read as a
history of a certain performativity of the drive towards a freedom not determined by the terms or boundaries of ontology,
as a history of the objects absolute objection to the macropolitical capture of identity. This paraontological movement of
Black fugitivity, as Moten has coined it, calls into question the framing of Blackness wholly within a political ontology that
seeks to index and describe Black life in terms of pure abjection.
Understanding blackness as ontological reinforces whiteness power
over black flesh
David Marriott 12, Professor in the History of Consciousness Department,
Humanities Division, Black Cultural Studies,
The problem with Wildersons argument, however, is that it remains of a piece with the
manichean imperatives that beset it, and which by definition are structurally uppermost,
which means that he can only confirm those imperatives as absolutes rather than chart a
dialectical path beyond them, insofar as, structurally speaking, there is no outside to
black social death and alienation, or no outside to this outside, and all that thought can
do is mirror its own enslavement by race. This is not so much afro-pessimisma term coined by
Wildersonas thought wedded to its own despair. However, this is also not the entire story of Red, White, and Black, as I
hope to show. For example, in Chapter One (The Structure of Antagonisms), written as a theoretical introduction, and
which opens explicitly on the Fanonian question of why ontology cannot understand the being of the Black, Wilderson is
prepared to say that black suffering is not only beyond analogy, it also refigures the whole of being: the essence of being
for the White and non-Black position is non-niggerness, consequently, [b]eing can thus be thought of, in the first
ontological instance, as non-niggerness, and slavery then as niggerness (p. 37). It is not hard when reading such
sentences to suspect a kind of absolutism at work here, and one that manages to be peculiarly and dispiritingly dogmatic:
throughout Red, White, and Black, despite variations in tone and emphasis, there is always the desire to have black lived
experience named as the worst, and the politics of such a desire inevitably collapses into a kind of sentimental moralism:
for the claim that Blackness is incapacity in its most pure and unadulterated form means merely that the black has to
logicand the denial of any kind of ontological
embody this abjection without reserve (p. 38). This
integrity to the Black/Slave due to its endless traversal by force does seem to reduce
ontology to logic, namely, a logic of non-recuperabilitymoves through the following
points: (1) Black non-being is not capable of symbolic resistance and, as such, falls
outside of any language of authenticity or reparation; (2) for such a subject, which
Wilderson persists in calling death, the symbolic remains foreclosed (p. 43); (3) as
such, Blackness is the record of an occlusion which remains ever present: White
(Human) capacity, in advance of the event of discrimination or oppression, is parasitic on
Black incapacity (p. 45); (4) and, as an example of the institutions or discourses
involving violence, antagonisms and parasitism, Wilderson describes White (or non-
Black) film theory and cultural studies as incapable of understanding the suffering of the
Blackthe Slave (they cannot do so because they are erroneously wedded to
humanism and to the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan, which Wilderson takes as two
examples of what the Afro-pessimist should avoid) (p. 56); as a corrective, Wilderson
calls for a new language of abstraction, and one centrally concerned with exposing the
structure of antagonisms between Blacks and Humans (p. 68). Reading seems to stop here, at a
critique of Lacanian full speech: Wilderson wants to say that Lacans notion of the originary (imaginary) alienation of the
subject is still wedded to relationality as implied by the contrast between empty and full speech, and so apparently
cannot grasp the trauma of absolute Otherness that is the Blacks relation to Whites, because psychoanalysis cannot
fathom the structural, or absolute, violence of Black life (pp. 74; 75). Whereas Lacan was aware of how language
precedes and exceeds us, he did not have Fanons awareness of how violence also precedes and exceeds Blacks (p.
76). The violence of such abjectionor incapacityis therefore that it cannot be communicated or avowed, and is always
already delimited by desubjectification and dereliction (p. 77). Whence the suspicion of an ontology reduced to a logic (of
abjection). Leaving aside the fact that it is quite mistaken to limit Lacans notion of full speech to the search for
communication (the unconscious cannot be confined to parole), it is clear that, according to Wildersons own logic, his
description of the Black is working, via analogy, to Lacans notion of the real but, in his insistence on the Black as an
absolute outside Wilderson can only duly reify this void at the heart of universality. The Black is beyond the limit of
contingencybut it is worth saying immediately that this beyond is indeed a foreclosure that defines a violence whose
traces can only be thought violently (that is, analogically), and whose nonbeing returns as the theme for Wildersons
political thinking of a non-recuperable abjection. The
Black is nonbeing and, as such, is more real and
primary than being per se: given how much is at stake, this insistence on a racial
metaphysics of injury implies a fundamental irreconcilability between Blacks and
Humans (there is really no debate to be had here: irreconcilability is the condition and
possibility of what it means to be Black).

Marronage disproves the theses of social death and ontological

Juliet Hooker 17, Associate Professor of Government and African Diaspora
Studies at the University of Texas at Austin Theorizing Slave Agency: Neil
Robertss Freedom as Marronage, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/646854
Much of this scholarship, under the rubric of Afro-pessimism, has focused on continued
forms of black subjection. Afro-pessimism theorizes blackness as a condition of
ontological death or fungibility; for afro-pessimists the conditions of post-emancipation
societies are contiguous to those of slavery, such that the plantation may have been
replaced by the prison but the relation of a fundamental structural antagonism between
blackness and (what is seen as) the human remains the same. Within this schema the enslaved
cannot serve as rich sources for thinking about freedom, because to do so would be to offer facile solutions to an
irreconcilable opposition. When
Roberts argues that: during marronage, agents struggle
psychologically, socially, metaphysically, and politically to exit slavery, maintain freedom, and
assert a lived social space while existing within a liminal position he is rejecting the notion of
slavery as social death in Orlando Pattersons famous formulation, which is foundational to
Afro-pessimism.4 Robertss theorizing about marronage reframes the debate between
Afro-pessimists and Afro-optimists in African Diaspora Studies by focusing on slave
agency and refuting the idea that the slave had no capacity for action. Freedom as Marronage
is instead precisely focused on the capacity for action of the enslaved, or more precisely on the potentiality for such action
(the moment when [End Page 189] the enslaved realize that they can resist and begin to contemplate doing so). It is the
entire span of such actions, not just the physical act of escape, which Roberts seeks to capture by arguing that we should
conceive of freedom as marronage, as a process of flight and movement. One of the principal achievements of
Freedom as Marronage is thus how it seamlessly brings together these two strands of
contemporary thinking about slavery and freedom, and makes a powerful intervention
into both by introducing the generative idea that it is philosophically productive to focus
on the liminal space between freedom and slavery, thereby centering the agency of the
enslaved, which is under-emphasized in both Afro-pessimism and Western political
thought. Roberts destabilizes the dichotomy between freedom and un-freedom that is
central to conceptions of negative and positive liberty in Western political thought, and
shows how the impulse to flight has been a central feature of the politics of the enslaved,
thereby reorienting us to the figure of the fugitive.

Blackness as ontological cant explain inter-personal relations

between black people their understanding reinforces a cycle of
endless psychic violence
Michael A. Barlow Jr. 16, Bachelors degree in Sociology from United States
Military Academy at West Point, Addressing Shortcomings in Afro-Pessimism,
While the ontological state of Black social death is an important concept for resistance
scholars to understand, the typical advocacy of complete societal pessimism in response to
that ontological arrangement is incomplete at best. Many in Afro-Pessimism use the basis
of social death to determine the question of Black political orientation in a way that is
problematic. This is not to say that social death theorization is not important, but that
there is a vital distinction that needs to be made both in terms of its application toward
traditional political processes and ensembles of Blackness. Frank Wilderson, Associated Professor
of African-American Studies and Drama at the University of California-Irvine, is quite possibly the leading Afro-Pessimist
scholar. He concludes his discussion of social death by advocating for one to embrace its disorder, its incoherence, and
allow oneself to be elaborated by it if, indeed, ones politics are to be underwritten by a desire to take down this country
(2007). In summary, his application of social death is used as a reason why Black life cannot be oriented at any level of
meaningful production within society. While Wilderson is correct that the material labor and symbolic currency born out of
If humanism is the
Blackness will always be consumed by whiteness, his conclusion is paradoxical at some level.
grammar by which civil society determines the register of subjectivity, why then is that
matrix appropriate in determining the state of Black life, if Black life is inherently the
position of what is incommunicable? If social death theorys application is one that
concludes an impossibility of meaningful Black productivity, then Afro-Pessimism
becomes nothing but a body of literature that echoes the same sentiments as those who
would understand Black life as a state of nothingness in plain racist terms.
Understanding Black ontology should definitely involve an understanding of the social
deadness of the Black subject in relation to society, but it should not be used as the
standard to measure internal liberation. The distinction here is important because too often Afro-Pessimists
scholars like Wilderson conceptualize Black resistance as a singular orientation toward society. Indeed their work is
important to understand the manner in which society operates upon Black subjects, but it is insufficient to describe an
ethic that allows for the pursuit of meaning within Blackness itself. In
this regard, scholars should
understand Black resistance as occurring on two different levels: the ontological and the
intra-ontological. The distinction being made is between the ontological state of
Blackness as determined outside of humanity proper versus the life within the
ontological state of Blackness as understood through social death. If social death is the state of
the Black, what then speaks to the state of the Black amongst Blacks? It would be a mistake on the part of any scholar to
concern themselves with one and not the other. This
paper uses the term intra-ontology in reference
to the varying ontologies within social death. This is the Black among Blacks. These are
those spaces within Blackness that only the Black can ever understand or occupy. Though they exist outside of the
production of the human (within the category of social death), there are Black affektual politics that have been with the
slave since the ship. These are the emotional and spiritual ontologies within Blackness that connected slaves of different
lands, languages, and religions into one community. Black intra-ontology can never achieve the plane of recognition
because it can only be understood within Blackness, which by definition is the position of social death, but those affektual
spirits and emotions ought not be neglected. Social death should guide Black resistance strategy in understanding the
position of the Black within civil society, but it speaks not to the arrangement of Black intra-ontological questions. If this
is measured by social death it only produces a cycle of endless internal psychic violence
because the Black would only be met with the discovery of a violent reality of its existence
through affirmations of social death. Intra-ontological resistance must not be a question of
how the world understands Blackness, because the position of the slave is one that
cannot be articulated in terms of hegemony. If it is so that the Black inherently
experiences the world through a different ontological register, then measures of Black
liberation cannot be articulated through the lens of humanist grammars.
Social Death Wrong

They misread Patterson social death isnt totalizing

Jane Anna Gordon 17, Ph.D. Political Science and Institute for African
American Studies, The Limitations and Possibilities of Freedom as Flight:
Engaging Neil Robertss Freedom as Marronage,
Second, many commentators, among them Vincent Brown, have criticized Orlando
Patterson for supposedly arguing that slaves were socially dead, pointing to the
evidence of the social worlds of enslaved people and many instances of their creative
resistance as the clear contradiction to Pattersons central claim.6 However, as I read him,
Patterson was not arguing that slaves were socially dead but instead that they were treated
and expected to behave as if they were socially dead. In other words, the project of turning
a human being into a slave was to make that person socially dead through an entire
political economic edifice of law, social sanction, and disenfranchisement. The maroons were
key, through their marronage, for turning the conflation of the aim with its [End Page 184] actualization into a site of
I raise this not only because there is
vulnerability for those who relied on the achievement of enslavement.
a line of scholarship that I think is based on a fundamental misreading but also because
the mistake is at the core of many arguments of Afro-pessimist scholarship which collapse the
project of making human beings abject with the achievement of their abjection (which the
authoring of such arguments themselves appears to contradict). The alternative to this conflation
is clarified through comparison with Frantz Fanons zone of non-being on which Roberts heavily relies. One could as
easily criticize Fanon for claiming that the colonized were non-beings, when his aim was to illuminate the effort to make
the colonized into flunkies or non-beings. While
Fanon is emphatic that this project is totalizing, it is
never in fact complete. In other words, I think Robertss engagement with Fanon and
refusal only to discuss Pattersons Slavery and Social Death point toward a more
accurate and fruitful account of what the idea of social death illuminates, which I would
describe as political projects of creating fundamentally anti-political relations between
the free and unfree.
Root Cause

Anti-blackness cant be used to explain the position of indigenous

Iyko Day 15, Associate Professor of English; Chair of Critical Social Thought,
Being or Nothingness: Indigeneity, Antiblackness, and Settler Colonial Critique,
Wildersons suggestion that a shared genocidal antagonism would potentially form a
correspondence between Indigeneity and antiblackness is somewhat at odds with
Sextons claim that racial slavery subsumes all other modalities of power. It is only through our
realization of the exceptionality of antiblackness, Sexton writes, that might help not only to break down false dichotomies,
and perhaps pose a truer one, but also to reveal the ways that the study of slavery is already and of necessity the study of
capitalism, colonialism, and settler colonialism, among other things.43 Here I interpret Sextons rejection of a
Native/settler opposition as among the false dichotomies that should be dispensed with in order to install a black/
nonblack truer dichotomy. However,
and this is my point, Wildersons and Sextons divergent
emphases put the empirical status of Indigeneity in flux. On the one hand, Indigenous sovereignty is
conceptualized primarily as a screen: an obscene supplement of the settler nation-state,44 an anti- black expression of
false consciousness, or a lost opportunity to apply the motif of genocide and share in an antagonism that relates to black
social death. That
is, the claim that sovereignty de-escalates a genocidal antagonism to
conflict suggests that a more authentic truth of Indigeneity is genocide, which means that
the unrealized fact of Indigeneity is its empirical analogy to black social death. But on the other
hand, Sexton forcefully rejects any claim to an empirically based analogy, claiming that antiblackness trumps Indigeneity
just as racial slavery trumps settler colonialism. And
so the potential relations that Wilderson sets up
through a critique of sovereignty are at best irrelevant or at worse false in Sextons
absolute claim that slavery stands alone as the threshold of the political world.45 I
suggest that this wavering relation/nonrelation of antiblackness and Indigeneity exhibited
in Wildersons and Sextons work reveal the problem in any totalizing approach to the
heterogeneous constitution of racial difference in settler colonies. Beyond this
inconsistency, the liberal multiculturalist agenda that Wilderson and Sexton project into
Indigenous sovereignty willfully evacuates any Indigenous refusal of a colonial politics of
recognition. Among other broad strokes, Sexton states, as a rule, Native Studies reproduces the dominant liberal
political narrative of emancipation and enfranchisement.46 This provides a basis for Wildersons assertion that
Indigenous sovereignty engages in a liberal politics of state legitimation through recognition because treaties are forms of
articulation that buttress the interlocutory life of America as a coherent (albeit genocidal) idea. 47
But such a
depoliticized liberal project is frankly incompatible with Indigenous activism and
scholarship that emerges from Native studies in North America. The main argument in Glen Sean
Coulthards book Red Skin, White Masks is to categorically reject the liberal recognition-based approach to Indigenous
self- determination.48 This is
not a politics of legitimizing Indigenous nations through state
recognition but rather one of refusal, a refusal to be recognized and thus interpellated by the
settler colonial nation-state. Drawing on Fanon, Coulthard describes the necessity on the part of the oppressed
to turn away from their other-oriented master-dependency, and to instead struggle for freedom on their own terms and in
accordance with their own values.49 It is also difficult to reconcile the depoliticized narrative of resurgence and recovery
that Wilderson and Sexton attribute to Indigenous sovereignty in the face of Idle No More, the anticapitalist Indigenous
sovereignty movement in Canada whose national railway and highway blockades have seriously destabilized the
expropriation of natural resources for the global market. These are examples that Coulthard describes as direct action
rather than negotiationin other words, antagonism, not conflict resolution: They [blockades] are a crucial act of negation
insofar as they seek to impede or block the ow of resources currently being transported to international markets from oil
and gas fields, refineries, lumber mills, mining operations, and hydroelectric facilities located on the dispossessed lands of
Indigenous nations. These modes of direct action . . . seek to have a negative impact on the economic infrastructure that
is core to the colonial accumulation of capital in settler-political economies like Canadas.50 These
tactics are part
of what Audra Simpson calls a cartography of refusal that negates the authority of the
others gaze.51 It is impossible to frame the blockade movement, which has become
the greatest threat to Canadas resource agenda,52 as a struggle for enfranchisement.
Idle No More is not in conflict with the Canadian nation-state; it is in a struggle against
the very premise of settler colonial capitalism that requires the elimination of Indigenous
peoples. As Coulthard states unambiguously, For Indigenous nations to live, capitalism must die.53 But perhaps my
own defense of Indigenous decolonization movements for sovereignty begs a larger question about whether sovereignty
in itself offers a radical politics that can encompass or mobilize a black radical tradition rooted in the project of abolition.
And it is here that I agree with Sextons intervention to problematize the idea that antiracist agendas must emerge from
But against the totalizing frame
the foundational priority of Indigenous sovereignty and restoration of land.54
of Afro-pessimism, I want to stress instead the pitfalls of any antidialectical approach to
the political economy of the settler colonial racial state from the position of either
Indigenous or antiblack exceptionalism. Settler colonial racial capitalism is not a thing
but a social relation. As such, it is not produced out of the causal relationships that Sexton puts forward here:
Slavery, as it were, precedes and prepares the way for colonialism, its forebear or fundament or support. Colonialism, as
it were, the issue or heir of slavery, its outgrowth or edifice or monument.55 The nearly totalizing black existential frame
is similarly based on a questionable construction of epistemic privilege: [black existence] does relate to the totality; it
indicates the (repressed) truth of the political and economic system. That is to say, the whole range of positions within the
racial formation is most fully understood from this vantage point, not unlike the way in which the range of gender and
sexual variance under patriarchal and heteronormative regimes is most fully understood through lenses that are feminist
and queer.56 According to Sexton, no other oppression is reducible to antiblackness, but the
relative totality of antiblackness is the privileged perspective from which to understand
racial formation more broadly. But unlike the way feminist and queer critical theory interrogate heteropatriarchy
from a subjectless standpoint, Sextons entire point seems to rest on the very specificity and singularityrather than
The privilege of this embodied
subjectlessnessof black critical theorys capacity to understand race.
viewpoint similarly relies on rigidly binaristic conceptions of land and bodily integrity. He
writes, If the indigenous relation to land precedes and exceeds any regime of property,
then the slaves inhabitation of the earth precedes and exceeds any prior relation to
landlandlessness. And selflessness is the correlate. No ground for identity, no ground
to stand (on).57 In other words, the slaves nonrelation to her body precedes and exceeds any other bodys relation
to land. However, the settler colonial designation of the United States and Canada as terra
nulliusas legally empty landsdenies the very corporeality of Indigenous populations
to inhabit land, much less have any rights to it. Along-side genocidal elimination, the
erasure of Indigenous corporeal existence is inseparable from the ground it doesnt stand on,
or is removed from. For the same reason that the economic reductionism of orthodox Marx- ism has been
discredited, such an argument that frames racial slavery as a base for a colonial superstructure similarly fails to take into
account the dialectics of settler colonial capitalism. The political economy of settler colonial capitalism is more
appropriately figured as an ecology of power relations than a linear chain of events. Relinquishing any conceptual privi-
lege that might be attributed to Indigeneity, alternatively, Coulthard offers a useful anti-exceptionalist stance: the colonial
relation should not be under- stood as a primary locus of base from which these other forms of oppression ow, but rather
as the inherited background eld within which market, racist, patriarchal, and state relations converge.58 From this view,
race and colonialism form the matrix of the settler colonial racial state.Putting colonial land and enslaved
labor at the center of a dialectical analysis, we can see that blackness is neither reducible
to Indigenous land nor Indigeneity to enslaved labor. Indigenous peoples and slaves are
not reducible to each other because settler colonialism abides by a dual logic that is
originally driven to eliminate Native peoples from land and mix the land with enslaved
black labor. If land is the basis of settler colonialists relationship to Indigenous peoples, it is labor that frames that
relationship with enslaved peoples. We can draw on Patrick Wolfes important points about the heterogeneous racial
effects of such a settler formation based on Indigenous land and enslaved labor. To summarize those points,
the racial content of Indigenous peoples is the mirror opposite of blackness. From the
beginning, an eliminatory project was driven to reduce Native populations through
genocidal wars and later through statistical elimination through blood quantum and
assimilationist policies. For slaves, an opposite logic of exclusion was driven to increase,
not eliminate, the population of slaves. One logic does not cause the other; rather, they
work together to serve a unitary end in increasing white settler property in the form of
land and an enslaved labor force. As a result, in the postemancipation, postfrontier era, the racial content of
Indigenous peoples is entirely dissolvable and eradicable. Alternatively, the racial content of blackness remains absolute
and essential, and maintains an infinite capacity to contaminate. As Wolfe states, the respective racializations . . . were
diametrically opposed, in a manner that reflected and preserved the foundational distinction between land and labor. For
whereas race for black people became an indelible trait that would survive any amount of admixture, race for Indians
became an inherently descending quantity that was terminally susceptible to dilution.59 One con- sequence is that the
phrase separate but equal can take two meanings: as either an injurious legal relic or a sovereign politics of the
future.60 Giventhis stark distinction in racial ontologies, any critical theory that views race
and colonialism as a causal rather than dialectical relation is incapable of exposing these
inextricable logics of settler colonialism.
Afro-pessimism Bad

Pessimistic advocacy is self-servingthis detours black people from

actions that continue to break down the system
GORDON 15, Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at UConn,
Lewis [Lewis Gordon presents What Fanon Said, Speech at Red Emmas
hosted by former Towson debater Ben Morgan, June 10, 2015,
(Transcribed by Brian Klarman)]
Nowhere is there ever a human being who is ever one identity. People know about race; you ever really see a race
walking? You see a, you see a racialized man or woman. Or trans-man or trans-woman. Or hermaphro you see what
Im getting at? You ever see a class walking? Class is embodied in flesh and blood people. And we could go on and on. A
man, a woman, a color, so forth. So, if we enrich our philosophical anthropology, we will begin to notice certain other
things and one of the other things we begin to realize is that we commit a serious problem when we do political work. And
the problem is this. The question about Wilderson, for instance. There is this discussion going on, and a lot of people build
it on my early books. I have a category that I call, as a metaphor, an anti-Black world you notice the indefinite article:
AN anti-Black world. The reason I say that is because THE world is different from an anti-Black world. The project of
racism is to create a world that would be anti-Black, anti-woman. Although thats a project, its not a fait accompli. People
dont seem to understand how recent, how recent this phenomenon were talking about is.A lot of people talk
about race they say they know the history of how race is connected into fear
naturalism, how for instance, in Andalusia and pushing out the moors, the history of how race connected to
Christianity was formed. A lot of people dont understand that from the standpoint of a species thats 220,000 years old,
what the hell is 500 years? But
the one thing that we dont understand too is that we create a
false model of how we study those 500 years. We study the 500 years as if the people
who have been dominated have not been fighting and resisting. Had they not been
fighting and resisting, we wouldnt be here. And then we come into this next point, because you see, the
problem in the formulation of pessimism and optimism is there both based in forecasted knowledge, a prior knowledge.
But human beings dont have prior knowledge. And in fact, what, what in the world are we if we need to
have guarantees for us to act? You know what you call such people? Cowards. The fact of the matter is, our
ancestors think about, lets just start with enslaved ancestors. The enslaved ancestors who were
burning down the plantations, who were finding clever ways to poison the masters, who
were organizing meetings for rebellions none of them had any clue about what the
future would be 100 years later, in fact, some had good reason to believe it may have
even taken 1,000 years. But you know why they fought? Because they knew it wasnt for
them. One of the problems we have in the way we think about political issues is we
commit what Fanon and others who were taught in the existential condition would call a
form of political immaturity. Political immaturity is, its not worth it unless I, me, individually get the pay off. When
youre thinking about what it is to relate to other generations, remember Fanon said the problem with the people
in the transition the pseudo post-colonial bourgeoisie is that they miss the point to fight for
liberation for other generations. And thats why Fanon said other generations, they must have their mission.
But you see, some people fought, and they said now I want my piece of the pie. And that means the biggest enemy
becomes the other generations. And that is why the postcolonial pseudo bourgeoisie there not a bourgeoisie proper
Its about themselves and thats
because they do not link to the infrastructural development of the future.
why, for instance, as they live higher up the hog, as they get their mediating service
oriented racial mediation wealth, the rest of the populations are in misery. The very fact that in
many African countries there are people whose futures have been mortgaged, the fact that in this country that very
example of mortgaging the future of all of you is there, what happens to people when they have no future? It now
collapses the concept of maturation and places people into perpetual childhood. So one of the political things, and this is
where a psychiatrist-philosopher is crucial, is to ask ourselves what does it mean to take on adult responsibility. And that
means to understand in all political action, its not about you. Its what you are doing for a world you may not be able to
even understand. Now that becomes tricky because, how do we know this? People have done it before. There were
people, for instance, who fought anti-colonial struggles. There are people and Im not talking about like 30 or 40 years
ago, Im talking about people from day 1, from the 17th century, the 18th century, all the way through and we right now
we have no idea what we are doing for the 22nd century. And this is where becoming, developing political insight comes
in. Because we commit the error of forgetting that the systems, the systems were talking about, are human systems.
There not systems in the way that we can talk about, for instance, the law of physics. A human system can only exist by
human actions maintaining them. Which means every human system is like the model of, of reason evaluating
completeness. Every human system is incomplete. A
human being is by definition incomplete, which
means you can go this way or you can go another way. And its that fundamental
incompleteness that raises the question. The system isnt actually closed. How do we
know it? The reason were seeing all of this brutality in the world today is because the
systems are breaking down. If the systems were working, they wouldnt have to worry.
You know how you have an effective system? You make people mentally be their own
prisoners. If the system were really working, you wouldnt have to have the police,
because you all would do it for them. It is the very fact that the system is breaking down
that we are seeing heightened brutality. The Limitations and Possibilities of Freedom as Flight: Engaging
Neil Robertss Freedom as Marronage

Afro-pessimism devolves into fatalism which precludes real-world

Eugene Holley 13, journalist, Wake Up, People! How to Get Past African-
American Pessimism in the Age of Obama, http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-
Afro-pessimism is rampant in the hood, but it also lives in academia. Dr. Cornel West, when asked if he
would serve in Obamas White House, said, [t]hats not my calling. Yeah, brother, you find me in a crackhouse before you find me in the White House." Afro-

pessimism comes from a painful and brutal history of slavery and its aftermath. And
statistics tell us that we still have a lot not to cheer about, like the 14 percent unemployment rate among blacks
(nearly double the national average) or the monstrous murder rate in Chicago, where 80 percent of the 500 homicide victims in 2012 were black. We are
depressed when we hear that the gap in high school graduation rates for white and black males only narrowed by 3 percent in 10 years, and when we learn that,

Those horrors are real.

stunningly, 40.2 percent of all prison inmates are black, even though we are only 13.6 percent of the U.S. population.

But what is also real is that against unimaginable odds, we are still here. We forged
ourselves, with the full, white weight of the Western world bearing down us, into what W.E.B. Du
Bois called a small nation of people. This black nation is united less by any single African, pre-American past than by what Ralph Ellison termed an identity of

We are a multicolored branch of humanity that won a centuries-spanning struggle that


liberated master and slave. To say that we all emerged in heroic fashion would be a lie. Being human, people tend to go inward and internalize
the degradation and lack of hope around them. That, of course, is not an exclusively black thing, as evidenced by the sad condition of Native Americans, Kurds,
Roma and many other oppressed people on the planet. While pessimism under unrelenting and brutal conditions is understandable, it ceases to be useful when

The presidency of Barack

we refuse to believe that better conditions are possible because believing it sets us up for disappointment.

Obama becomes too much to process, and we shy away from the work of overhauling
negative thinking. We shift into thinking that any kind of African-American advancement is a
sham, a trick, a hustle; an unforgivable delusion unfit for those who keep it real. Afro-
pessimism is bad enough when its just about lack of positive action. But it plays out in our young people in the
worst aspects of popular and hip-hop culture, where a black kid is called acting white for speaking in non-accented Standard English, and God forbid, excelling in

you have a recipe for reverse-

school. Add those incendiary ingredients to the American-as-apple-pie love for violence and

revolution; where black prison culture is celebrated and rewarded by the larger white
community and by the medias insatiable appetite for black life on the mean streets. The good news is that Afro-pessimism is a
cultural response, and though it is shaped by socio-economic forces, it is reversible through
the same kind of positive, cultural engineering that all humans are capable of. For starters, Afro-
pessimists should consider our political history as black people, and as Americans.
Remember that most of our victories dont happen overnight. Second, we need to carefully scrutinize the presidents policies
and the strategies that underpin them. As the Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson wrote in the New York Times: Mr. Obamas writings, politics and personal
relations suggest ... that he prefers a three-pronged strategy. First, he is committed to the universalist position that the best way to help the black and Latino poor
is to help all disadvantaged people, Appalachian whites included. The outrage of black over-incarceration will be remedied by quietly reforming the justice system
Second, Mr. Obama appears convinced that residential segregation lies at the heart of both black problems and cultural racism. He is a committed integrationist
and seems to favor policies intended to move people out of the inner cities. Third, he clearly considers education to be the major solution and has tried to lavishly
finance our schools, despite the fiscal crisis. More broadly, he will quietly promote policies that celebrate the common culture of America, emphasizing the
extraordinary role of blacks and other minorities in this continuing creation. Here are two examples that support Pattersons analysis: 1) the presidents expansion
of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit in 2010, which benefited about 2.2 million African American families and nearly half of all African American
children, while extending unemployment insurance to benefit over a million African Americans; and 2) the African-American Education Initiative, an executive order
created to improve the educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and help ensure that African Americans receive a complete and competitive
education that prepares them for college, a satisfying career, and productive citizenship. Examining evidence of Obamas positive effect on the black community

we are witnessing an
can help lift the veil of Afro-pessimism, and allow us to view his reelection in a more realistic and positive light. Remember,

event that was unimaginable less than 10 years ago. If a black, mixed-race brother raised in
Hawaii and Indonesia, with a Muslim-sounding name a few years after 9/11 can win the
presidency twice especially after four years of vicious racist attacks then simply put, all is possible. We no longer have
the option of rising to our lowest expectations.