Thanks to movements like Black Lives Matter, Western society’s chronic discrimination against black individuals has become front-page news. Yet, there is little awareness of the systemic factors that make such a distinct form of dehumanization possible. In both the United States and Brazil—two leading nations of the black diaspora—a very necessary acknowledgment of black suffering is nonetheless undercut by denial of the pervasive antiblackness that still exists throughout these societies.
In The Denial of Antiblackness, João H. Costa Vargas examines how antiblackness affects society as a whole through analyses of recent protests against police killings of black individuals in both the United States and Brazil, as well as the everyday dynamics of incarceration, residential segregation, and poverty. With multisite ethnography ranging from a juvenile prison in Austin, Texas, to grassroots organizing in Los Angeles and Black social movements in Brazil, Vargas finds the common factors that have perpetuated antiblackness, regardless of context. Ultimately, he asks why the denial of antiblackness persists, whom this narrative serves, and what political realities it makes possible.(