As “skewed life chances, limited access to health and education, premature death, incarceration, and impoverishment” endure as features of the black ordinary, widespread disillusionment with neoliberal statecraft has empowered white supremacist regimes across the West.1 Though its merits remain contested by many, Afro-pessimism—a theoretical and increasingly interdisciplinary conceptual intervention—indicts humanist scholars’ failure to account for the brutal imaginations that persist into the twenty-first century.2 This assertion of scholars David Marriott, Jared Sexton, Frank B. Wilderson III, and others—that social death is a defining, ontological characteristic of the black—builds on the interventions of Frantz Fanon, Lewis Gordon, Saidiya Hartman, Orlando Patterson, and Hortense Spillers, among others. Younger scholars such as Patrice Douglass and John Murillo III, whose intellectual trajectories have been radically influenced by the proposition that black social death is the metaphysical guarantor of modernity and the subject writ large,...

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