The Afro-Pessimist Temptation

Darryl Pinckney at the NYRB:

Amy Sherald: What’s precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American), 2017; from the exhibition ‘Amy Sherald,’ on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 11–August 19, 2018

Cornel West is right or I am on his side, another old head who believes that history is human-made. Afro-pessimism and its treatment of withdrawal as transcendence is no less pleasing to white supremacy than Booker T. Washington’s strategic retreat into self-help. Afro-pessimism threatens no one, and white audiences confuse having been chastised with learning. Unfortunately, black people who dismiss the idea of progress as a fantasy are incorrect in thinking they are the same as most white people who perhaps believe still that they will be fine no matter who wins our elections. Afro-pessimism is not found in the black church. One of the most eloquent rebuttals to Afro-pessimism came from the white teenage anti-gun lobbyists who opened up their story in the March for Our Lives demonstrations to include all youth trapped in violent cultures.

more here.

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