Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of by Joseph R. Winters

By Joseph R. Winters

In wish Draped in Black Joseph R. Winters responds to the long-lasting trust that the USA follows a relentless trajectory of racial development. Such notions—like those who recommended the passage right into a postracial period following Barack Obama's election—gloss over the historical past of racial violence and oppression to create an imaginary and self-congratulatory international the place painful stories are very easily forgotten. instead of those narratives, Winters advocates for an concept of wish that's predicated on a continuing engagement with loss and depression. Signaling a heightened sensitivity to the anguish of others, depression disconcerts us and permits us to chop opposed to dominant narratives and identities. Winters identifies a black literary and aesthetic culture within the paintings of intellectuals, writers, and artists corresponding to W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Charles Burnett that regularly underscores depression, remembrance, loss, and tragedy in ways in which gesture towards this kind of notion of wish. Winters additionally attracts on Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno to focus on how remembering and mourning the uncomfortable dimensions of yank social existence supplies trade assets for wish and mind's eye that would bring about development a greater global.

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Additional resources for Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress

Sample text

I suggest that ­there is a tension in this text around the theme of pro­gress. ” He seems to express the kind of optimism about American ideals that Bercovitch associates with the jeremiad tradition. In a quasi-­Hegelian manner, he suggests that freedom and equality w ­ ill eventually unfold and expand to include black ­people. On the other hand, Du Bois draws from the sorrow-­ song tradition to undo overconfident accounts of freedom and pro­gress, a strategy that enables him to place racial trauma at the heart of American 24 Introduction history and modernity more broadly.

By looking at his speeches and writings, I show how Obama’s inspiring message of hope and promise is balanced by a tragic sense of Amer­i­ca’s racial history. Yet I suggest that this tragic sense is too often diminished by his commitment to American exceptionalism. This all-­too-­familiar attachment to American uniqueness and pro­gress works to assimilate the complexities of race and history into a coherent, reassuring framework of meaning. This tactic encourages the stronger, victorious sense of the postracial and obscures how the nation-­state has been a crucial site of racism, cruelty, and vio­ lence.

2 Although ­there are glaring blind spots and omissions within his corpus, he confronted many of the unpleasant realities, conditions, and topics that continue to haunt the social order—­the prob­lem of the color line, the subordination of w ­ omen, the complicated relationship between race and class, Western imperialism, and the pernicious consequences of the cap­i­ tal­ist-­inspired accumulation of wealth, especially for the darker denizens of the world. In this chapter and chapter 2, I also argue for Du Bois’s on­ going relevance, underscoring the capacity of his ideas to illuminate and reconfigure our understanding of the pres­ent.

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