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Publisher's Summary

Combining trenchant philosophy with lyrical memoir, Afropessimism is an unparalleled account of Blackness.

Why does race seem to color almost every feature of our moral and political universe? Why does a perpetual cycle of slavery - in all its political, intellectual, and cultural forms - continue to define the Black experience? And why is anti-Black violence such a predominant feature not only in the United States but around the world? These are just some of the compelling questions that animate Afropessimism, Frank B. Wilderson III’s seminal work on the philosophy of Blackness.

Combining precise philosophy with a torrent of memories, Wilderson presents the tenets of an increasingly prominent intellectual movement that sees Blackness through the lens of perpetual slavery. Drawing on works of philosophy, literature, film, and critical theory, he shows that the social construct of slavery, as seen through pervasive anti-Black subjugation and violence, is hardly a relic of the past but the very engine that powers our civilization, and that without this master-slave dynamic, the calculus bolstering world civilization would collapse. Unlike any other disenfranchised group, Wilderson argues, Blacks alone will remain essentially slaves in the larger Human world, where they can never be truly regarded as Human beings, where, “at every scale of abstraction, violence saturates Black life.”

And while Afropessimism delivers a formidable philosophical account of being Black, it is also interwoven with dramatic set pieces, autobiographical stories that juxtapose Wilderson’s seemingly idyllic upbringing in mid-century Minneapolis with the abject racism he later encounters - whether in late 1960s Berkeley or in apartheid South Africa, where he joins forces with the African National Congress. Afropessimism provides no restorative solution to the hatred that abounds; rather, Wilderson believes that acknowledging these historical and social conditions will result in personal enlightenment about the reality of our inherently racialized existence.

Radical in conception, remarkably poignant, and with soaring flights of lyrical prose, Afropessimism reverberates with wisdom and painful clarity in the fractured world we inhabit. It positions Wilderson as a paradigmatic thinker and as a 21st century inheritor of many of the African American literary traditions established in centuries past.

©2020 Frank Wilderson III (P)2020 Recorded Books

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Afropessimism goes beyond ESSENTIAL reading!!!

Afropessimism is possibly the most honest, insightful and sadly necessary book that I have read in the last 25 years. The importance of Widerson’s critique cannot be surmized simply by the imperative lifeline that it offers millions of Black people globally, but in addition, by the urgently required language and nuanced understanding that his book affords to anyone open to the challenge of its considerations.

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This can’t be life.

But it is. A book worth reading/listening to, thank you for living and writing it.

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Thoughtful mind blowing book

Afropessism is a framework to explain Black people’s existence in the West. Dr. Wilderson’s philosophy book slash memoir is exciting. This book is groundbreaking. Informative and entertaining. A great follow-up to Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks.

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  • Ck
  • 02-19-21

Illuminating

Somehow this book seems to remedy the inner tension I have often repressed or just lived with. I found it illuminating in its narrative style of truth telling and even haunting at times. I will read this book again and return to it as Afropessimism will continue to frequent this haunt right here.

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Confusing mess

Hearing the author speak on his book on NPR and finally actually listen to the book is such a disconnect the book really is not that good it’s a mess. Doesn’t really tell you about Afro pessimism and doesn’t really explain his life that well.

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painful and exquisite

This book is painful to read or hear. I recommend taking time to sit with the ideas. Mr. Wilderson is a great writer, and he reads this work at a pace that allows for thinking. I am grateful it was recommended to me.

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An absolute "must have."

Vivid, stirring! No false exits. Dr. Wilderson captures his meta theory in a palatable way.

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"Essential" Critical Theory and Artful Prose

More than just a beautiful set of autobiographical essays, this is one of the most essential books ever written to actually understand blackness. (Scenes of Subjection also vital)

Dr. Wilderson gave me everything I could have wanted from this book. He answers so many of the questions I had about Afropessimism as a non-grad student.
It's written so that you don't need a background with Afropessimism to learn and grow from this text!

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Thank you, Frank

for the beautiful directive for the world and the end of it.

It was amazing to listen to Professor Wilderson narrate this entire text.

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a fantastic voyage of discovery

I will have to actually read the book itself and listen to this important text again to make sure i fully understand this. wow

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  • weyland mckenzie
  • 06-13-20

Upsetting, harrowing, essential

No other position has resonated with me as much as Afropessimism. Franks work is very much ahead of its time

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  • Firefox Petalface
  • 06-01-20

Frank Wilderson loves big words and has a white wife

I’m familiar with his work, and at first I thought that I didn’t have the intellectual range to appreciate his work, but listening to it on audible, made it that much more easier. I still challenge the merit of using inaccessible language when discussing a pertinent subject that every black and human should have access to. I was also shocked to find out that he has a white wife and he refers to her as his Massa.