Black Dignity: The Struggle Against Domination

Yale University Press (2022)

Abstract

_Why Black dignity is the paradigm of all dignity and Black philosophy is the starting point of all philosophy_ This radical work by one of the leading young scholars of Black thought delineates a new concept of Black dignity, yet one with a long history in Black writing and action. Previously in the West, dignity has been seen in two ways: as something inherent in one's station in life, whether acquired or conferred by birth; or more recently as an essential condition and right common to all of humanity. In what might be called a work of observational philosophy—an effort to describe the philosophy underlying the Black Lives Matter movement—Lloyd defines dignity as something performative, not an essential quality but an action: struggle against domination. Without struggle, there is no dignity. He defines anti-Blackness as an inescapable condition of American life, and the slave’s struggle against the master as the “primal scene” of domination and resistance. Exploring the way Black writers such as Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, and Audre Lorde have dealt with themes such as Black rage, Black love, and Black magic, Lloyd posits that “Black dignity is the paradigm of all dignity” and, more audaciously, that “Black philosophy is the starting point of all philosophy.”

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