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      Did COVID-19 Make Me an Afro-Pessimist? A Conversation in Three Parts



            As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage and disproportionately affect BIPOC, we keep count of the death toll around the world, in the U.S., in our own communities and in our own families. How can we have a “wish to live,” while so many around us die? Does a space exist between fateful (faithful) optimism present in Aretha Franklin’s, “Mary Don’t You Weep?” and the ever-present power structure, that as Reverend Al Sharpton noted, has always had its knee on our necks? More concretely, how do we reconcile what Aisha Durham discusses as “weathering and wounded,” as we sit in the space of being both and not wanting to endure much more. This piece articulates some of the conversations that we have stumbled upon, worked through and raged against from the space of our collective homes and fatigued spirits. It addresses notions of Afro-Pessimism and the intersection of Black Feminist Theory, the role that grief plays in Black Feminist praxis, the role of Diaspora in the historical imagination, and asks the question, “Did COVID and the state-sanctioned killings of Black people make us Afro-Pessimists?”


            Author and article information

            Journal of Intersectionality
            14 October 2022
            : 5
            : 1
            : 4-17
            [1 ] Michigan State University
            [2 ] University of California, Irvine

            Published under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International ( CC BY 4.0). Users are allowed to share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially), as long as the authors and the publisher are explicitly identified and properly acknowledged as the original source.


            Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.
            Sociology,Education,Political science,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Cultural studies
            Afro-Pessimism,African diaspora,slavery,Covid-19,gender,Black Feminist Theory,Third world feminism,women,Pan-Africanism


            1. Durham Aisha. WoundedCritical Autoethnography. p. 21–31. 2020. Routledge. [Cross Ref]

            2. Millward Jessica. Black Women’s History and the Labor of Mourning. Souls. Vol. 18(1):161–165. 2016. Informa UK Limited. [Cross Ref]

            3. Mustakeem Sowande' M.. EpilogueSlavery at Sea. p. 183–192. 2016. University of Illinois Press. [Cross Ref]

            4. OWENS DEIRDRE COOPER. Medical Bondage. 2017. University of Georgia Press. [Cross Ref]

            5. Wilderson Frank. Gramsci's Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society? Social Identities. Vol. 9(2):225–240. 2003. Informa UK Limited. [Cross Ref]


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