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The Denial of Antiblackness

Multiracial Redemption and Black Suffering

2018
Author:

João H. Costa Vargas

The Denial of Antiblackness

An incisive new look at the black diaspora, examining the true roots of antiblackness and its destructive effects on all of society

João H. Costa Vargas examines how antiblackness affects society as a whole through analyses of recent protests against police killings of black individuals in both the U.S. and Brazil, as well as the everyday dynamics of incarceration, residential segregation, and poverty. Ultimately, he asks why the denial of antiblackness persists, whom this narrative serves, and what political realities it makes possible.

The Denial of Antiblackness marks nothing less than a landmark moment in the radical trajectories of Black studies, African diaspora studies, and Black radical social thought. This book—this radical project—is an invitation to engage with the very same Black radical experimentation and generosity of which it writes, while constantly punctuating this invitation with a demand for accountability on the part of Black and nonblack peoples to struggle with the specificity and structural immovability and determinacy of anti-Black terror and violence.

Dylan Rodríguez, University of California at Riverside

Thanks to movements like Black Lives Matter, Western society’s chronic discrimination against black individuals has become front-page news. Yet, there is little awareness of the systemic factors that make such a distinct form of dehumanization possible. In both the United States and Brazil—two leading nations of the black diaspora—a very necessary acknowledgment of black suffering is nonetheless undercut by denial of the pervasive antiblackness that still exists throughout these societies.

In The Denial of Antiblackness, João H. Costa Vargas examines how antiblackness affects society as a whole through analyses of recent protests against police killings of black individuals in both the United States and Brazil, as well as the everyday dynamics of incarceration, residential segregation, and poverty. With multisite ethnography ranging from a juvenile prison in Austin, Texas, to grassroots organizing in Los Angeles and Black social movements in Brazil, Vargas finds the common factors that have perpetuated antiblackness, regardless of context. Ultimately, he asks why the denial of antiblackness persists, whom this narrative serves, and what political realities it makes possible.

The Denial of Antiblackness

João H. Costa Vargas is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside. He is author of Catching Hell in the City of Angels (Minnesota, 2006) and Never Meant to Survive.

The Denial of Antiblackness

The Denial of Antiblackness marks nothing less than a landmark moment in the radical trajectories of Black studies, African diaspora studies, and Black radical social thought. This book—this radical project—is an invitation to engage with the very same Black radical experimentation and generosity of which it writes, while constantly punctuating this invitation with a demand for accountability on the part of Black and nonblack peoples to struggle with the specificity and structural immovability and determinacy of anti-Black terror and violence.

Dylan Rodríguez, University of California at Riverside

The Denial of Antiblackness brings a bold new way to approach the scandalous levels of antiblack violence, as well as the denial of the very fact of blackness as structuring dimension of the social process and state formation in both Brazil and the United States. João H. Costa Vargas builds a brand new analytical bridge between the two countries, so different in many ways yet sharing the same fundamental racial contradictions.

Osmundo Pinho, Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia

The Denial of Antiblackness

Contents
Preface: The Challenges of Black Autonomy
Introduction: Our Lives Are Our Deaths: Antiblackness and Oblique Identification
Part I. Austin, U.S.A.: The Gendered Dynamics of Youth Incarceration
1. Does Heaven Have a Ghetto?: Growing Up in Prisons
2. Stanzas of Oppression and Hope: Voices of Incarcerated Black and Latino Boys
3. Negotiating Quotidian Violence and Uncertain Futures: Narratives from Black and Latina Girls
Part II. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: State Terror and Apartheid
4. Reclaiming Public Space: Rolezinhos as Protest
5. The Pacifying Police: Security through Brutality
Part III. The Denial of Antiblackness
6. Michael Zinzun: The Fall and Rise of the Black Cyborg
7. Black Suffering as Catalyst: Multiracial Blocs in Diaspora
Conclusion: The Slave against the Cyborg
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index