Lewis R. Gordon investigates myriad questions in Fear of Black Consciousness (2022). He brings out the complexity of Black consciousness and the psychological, ontological, and epistemic upheavals that it provokes in a White world. Gordon examines contradictions, paradoxes, and aporias that find their coherence in his continual call to an emerging form of transcendence. Struck by Gordon’s analysis of denial, responsibility, bad faith, and the blues, the author does not explain or summarize Gordon’s thought but rather uses it as a base for an exploration of the psychic life of White power. Denial and bad faith are not mere features of this psychic life; rather, they are fundamental conditions for its continued refusal to acknowledge the epistemic and ontological dimensions of Black humanity. This discussion essay examines how Gordon allows us to see the blues as a musical genre whose relationship to suffering reflects a responsible and liberating way of existing in the world.

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