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Frank B. Wilderson, III

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The Prison Slave as Hegemony’s (Silent) Scandal

The author, a longtime human rights activist and organizer, makes a theoretical statement about the relation of Blackness and the Black body to civil society: Black citizenship, or Black civic obligation, Wilderson states, are oxymorons. He discusses how antagonistic identity formation must come to grips with the contradictions between the political demands of radical social movements, such as the large prison abolition movement, which seeks to abolish the prison-industrial complex, and the ideological structure that underwrites its political desire. Today, the failure of radical social movements to embrace symptoms of rage and resignation is tantamount to the reproduction of an anti-Black politics that nonetheless represents itself as being in the service of the emancipation of the Black prison slave.

radical social movements, black history, slavery, African Americans, social conditions and trends

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 30, No. 2 (2003): 18-27