Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III on Afropessimism

Wrapping up the fifth season of Black Market Reads, Lissa speaks with author and scholar Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III about his latest work, Afropessimism (Liveright, 2020). From his youth in Minneapolis to Apartheid South Africa and beyond, Dr. Wilderson has been a committed activist for radical social change. His creative, scholarly, and critical work has been published internationally. He is the author of several books, including Incognegro: Memoir of Exile and Apartheid. And Red, White and Black. Dr. Wilderson is a professor of Drama and African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Episode 53 – Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III

In this episode, author and scholar Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III on his latest work, Afropessimism. From his youth in Minneapolis to Apartheid South Africa and beyond, Dr. Wilderson has been a committed activist for radical social change. His creative, scholarly, and critical work has been published internationally.

Go Deeper: Additional Materials

Read: A Snapshot of Wilderson’s argument in this New Yorker Review

The Argument of “Afropessimism”

Frank B. Wilderson III sketches a map of the world in which Black people are everywhere integral but always excluded. The best time to read a book by Frank B. Wilderson III, it turns out, is during a hot summer of uneasy isolation, social heartbreak, and racial uprising.

Learn: More about Sojourner Truth and read the text of her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, delivered in 1851

Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman? (U.S. National Park Service)

Born into slavery in 1797, Isabella Baumfree, who later changed her name to Sojourner Truth, would become one of the most powerful advocates for human rights in the nineteenth century. Her early childhood was spent on a New York estate owned by a Dutch American named Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh.

Read: The text of the 1857 Dred Scott decision by the US Supreme Court

Dred Scott case

Click here for the text of this historical document. In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, declared that all blacks — slaves as well as free — were not and could never become citizens of the United States.

What is Dr. Wilderson Reading?: Clifford’s Blues by John A. Williams (and published by Minneapolis independent publisher Coffee House Press)

Clifford’s Blues

A novel by John A. Williams April 1, 1999 * 6 x 9 * 304 pages * 978-1-56689-080-9 Africans and African Americans in the Holocaust. If there is an undiscovered aspect of the black experience, it will be found by John A. Williams, one of the founding members of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

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