Social Science Homework Question
In his memoir, Afropessimism, Frank Wilderson poses a set of rhetorical questions to reveal the logic behind the afterlife of slavery: “Why is anti-Black violence not a form of racist hatred but the genome of Human renewal; a therapeutic balm that the Human race needs to know and heal itself? Why must the world reproduce this violence, this social death, so that social life can regenerate Humans and prevent them from suffering the catastrophe of psychic incoherence—absence? Why must the world find its nourishment in Black flesh?” (17). In this passage, Wilderson redefines slavery as a “relational dynamic,” or the amalgamation of social, legal, cultural, economic, and psychic structures that made the institution of slavery possible in the first place (41). Moreover, as we have learned throughout this semester, these same structures were preserved, extended, and repurposed well after the formal emancipation of slaves to create what we now recognize as the afterlife of slavery. For this essay, you will draw on our class discussions, lectures, and assigned texts to construct an argument about how and why the afterlife of slavery has kept slavery alive as a “relational dynamic.” In doing so, you must select at least three examples from our primary texts and demonstrate how and why those examples support your argument. You might consider some of the following questions as you craft your response: How and why is the afterlife of slavery built on a distinction between “anti-Black violence” and “racist hatred”? In other words, how is antiblackness different from racism or white supremacy and why do these differences matter? How has slavery shaped contemporary ideas/practices of policing, justice, freedom, and salvation? How do the prison industrial complex and racial capitalism preserve and maintain slavery as a “relational dynamic”? How are our social relations (i.e., friends, families, communities, lovers) and political ideologies (i.e., coalition politics, reform vs. revolution) affected by the afterlife of slavery? What literary strategies do Black writers, artists, and thinkers use to represent, theorize, and confront the afterlife of slavery?
Instead of relying on summaries of our texts, successful essays will be thesis-driven, provide direct evidence (e.g., close readings of quotations) from our class materials, and synthesize connections across texts and applicable concepts. Please note that at least one example must be taken from a primary text covered before the middle of the semester (e.g., Lose Your Mother, Afropessimism, Corregidora) and at least one example must be taken from a primary text covered after the middle of the semester (e.g., Paradise, 13th, Citizen, Sorry to Bother You).
Requirements: Essay, 2-4 pages