Black Lives, Black Death, Black Men (Tommy Curry / Norman Ajari on Covid-19, Racism and the « Day After »)

Discussion between Tommy J. Curry and Norman Ajari on the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on Black People in the global North, and on the perspectives for a political, social and philosophical rupture in the « Day after ». Conversation organised by Mireille Fanon Mendès France, co-chair of the Frantz Fanon Foundation.


« Faced with the current pandemic, Western societies have entered into a health crisis as well as a political, economic and social one, without forgetting that the way in which certain States negotiated with this health crisis questions the very meaning of democracy.
This pandemic, which for the moment has killed less than the annual respiratory affections (68,000 for France), has put the world at a standstill and demonstrates that as a health emergency, after also having taken liberticide decisions on the private and public fronts for reasons of migration crisis or security emergency, some democracies have opened widely their doors to authoritarian system where the only question of the powers in place is to maintain the capitalist racist economy by securing the individual, who has the means and the skills, to save his skin and his capital.

Many have come to call it a crisis of civilization, and many seem, or claim, to have rediscovered a relation to death and humanity. But most of the discourses around the crisis, marked by eurocentrism and whiteness invariably obscure those who are primarily concerned with death : the Damned of the Earth, those condemned to death because they are always confined to being Non-Beings, among them are Black Men.

They live most of the time in peripheral working-class districts and are controlled at will – or even harassed – by a police force which plays on its power (during this health crisis more than 41,000 verbalizations since mid-March in the department of Seine -Saint-Denis: 3 times more than the national average): since April 8, 5 people have been killed by the police, 3 others have been injured, 7 have complained of police violence. Mostly Blacks and Arabs. Struck with the stigma of precariousness or that of the refusal of otherness, they are victims of structural and systemic racism.

To undo this area of non-being in which black life is trapped, and more generally that of racialized people, we are pleased to receive Norman Ajari, decolonial philosopher and member of the Frantz Fanon Foundation, author of « Dignity or death  » and Tommy J. Curry, philosopher author of « The Man-Not ».

In 2017, the Frantz Fanon Foundation, during its 3rd Rencontres, asked participants to share their thoughts on « Thinking Human ». In 2020, this health crisis poses with even more relevance and gravity the question of Human and his place in a society for which he has always been perceived as a burden. This impossibility for the capitalist and racist system to think Human has repercussions at the level of international institutions such as the UN and its agencies, even if they call for « leave no one behind » within the framework of the 2030 agenda.

You have thought to the question of dignity, to that of the black condition in the face of death, in a system of white domination that keeps black bodies in social, political and epistemological non-being, outside of #Humanity. Following the instrumentalization, even the shameful exploitation, of this pandemic, we can see that the concern is not the human, who during this crisis was reduced to a figure.

All of the mainstream talk about « the Day After » the pandemic speak of the need for a rupture. What would be the nature of this rupture so that social death no longer necroses the lives of black men? What form do you think this rupture should take, so that it is not limited to an incantation, and that it sets us on the path of changing the paradigm of the capitalist and euro-centric white domination ?

Would it be enough to commit to what Frantz Fanon suggests when he affirms that “It is through the effort to recapture the self and to scrutinize the self, it is through the lasting tension of their freedom that men will be able to create the ideal conditions of existence for a human world » ? Will this be enough to restore to Africans and Afrodescendants the dignity white supremacy has deprived from them for centuries ?

The floor is yours. »

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