Wishing Against Hope
The Radical Prospects of Afro-pessimism
‘’I am the wish in the wishbone
that white people break for good luck’’
The Last Poets – Black Wish
‘’Give a dog a bone, leave a dog alone
let a dog roam and he’ll find his way home
Home of the brave, my home is a cage
and yo I’ma slave til’ my home is a grave’’
DMX – Ruff Ryders’ Anthem
In a recent elucidation of the conceptual project of Afro-pessimism, scholar Jared Sexton referred to a pressingly apt metaphor that hinted at the restrictions that are inevitably placed on the thought and affect of black social life whenever it attempts to articulate its grievances within the congregation of the multitude. Sexton, pace Cedric Kyles, juxtaposes the black ‘’wish factor’’ against the white ‘’hope creed’’ whereby the latter’s hopes of overcoming a conflict sutures a gap in the white/non-white divide that renders the former’s calls for confronting an antagonism without an auditor. In its stead it is reacquainted with an age-old watchdog unleashed to roam and police. However, at an altogether different fissure, namely the breaking point at which the forked bone is made to split by the push and pull of the nonblack adversaries (say the conflict of Thanksgiving or the articulation of orientalism and war), resides the ‘’pained body’’ of the black. The black of slavery and slaveness. In this space, otherwise known as ‘’the hold of the ship’’, helping us to elaborate on this black wish against an antiblack hope (and in giving the dog a bone to choke on!) on the pod today are Patrice Douglass, Nicholas Brady, Kevin Cobham and Omar Ricks.
Check out Nicholas Brady’s work at https://outofnowhereblog.wordpress.com/ and the Baltimore grassroots organization he is affiliated with at http://lbsbaltimore.com/
Check out Omar Ricks at http://cosmichoboes.blogspot.co.uk/ and https://berkeley.academia.edu/OmarRicks
Check out Patrice Douglass at https://uci.academia.edu/PatriceDiannaDouglass
Kevin Cobham can be reached on facebook under Kevin Bismark Cobham
‘And if they reject such an empire, it can be imposed on them by way of arms, and such a war would be just according to the declarations of natural law […] In sum: it is just, convenient, and in conformity with natural law that those honorable, intelligent, virtuous, and human men dominate all those who lack these qualities.’ – Ginés de Sepúlveda
‘The starving fellah, Fanon pointed out, does not have to inquire into the truth. He is, they are, the truth. It is we who institute this ‘Truth’. We must now undo their narratively condemned status’ – Sylvia Wynter
‘I don’t think I ever claimed, or meant to claim, that Afro-pessimism sees blackness as a kind of pathogen. I think I probably do, or at least hope that it is, insofar as I bear the hope that blackness bears or is the potential to end the world.’ – Fred Moten
‘I knew that no matter how far from home I traveled, I would never be able to leave my past behind. I would never be able to imagine being the kind of person who had not been made and marked by slavery. I was black and a history of terror had produced that identity. Terror was “captivity without the possibility of flight,” inescapable violence, precarious life. There was no going back to a time or place before slavery, and going beyond it no doubt would entail nothing less momentous than yet another revolution.’ – Saidiya Hartman
Today Vitamin D is happy to share a recent audio documentary entitled ‘Ending The World’ which was produced to contribute to an exhibition entitled ‘Visions of the Future’ hosted by OOMK (www.oomk.net). Members of the Decoloniality London (DL) network were asked what the titular phrase means to them and how they see it being made manifest. The last three quotations above are in some shape or form responding to Sepúlveda’s historical justification for the earth to be governed by colonial means. Moreover, they are building on the early clarion calls made by Aime Cesaire and Frantz Fanon to move towards a total transformation of the world and so the voices in the recording attempt to speak to this demand while also extending and elevating it to contemporary discourse.
The people heard here will also be organising and facilitating an upcoming study programme on decoloniality which is due to have its launch day on 14 March. As a part of DL, Vitamin D will be releasing additional information about this project in the near future and will also link to the relevant website as things get finalised.
In the mean time, check out this short piece on what it might mean to take the cry to ‘end the world’ as a serious strategy of liberation from the colonial matrix of power.
Do get in touch if you’d like to register for the launch event.