“We appeal to the future we imagine. We imagine what we are. […] We are always also walking in another world.”
– Fred Moten
We understand that race is made through the brutal craft of white supremacy: a political, social, economic, and interpersonal formation that both requires and produces anti-blackness to sustain itself. Equally clear to us is that racial “knowledge,” in all its forms, continues to structure our collective experience, both in the United States and around the world where the racialized “other” describes a complex of peoples and cultures. Each of these others, to different degrees, has been and continues to be subject to the consequences of racialized capitalism, and the now centuries old global order that it has produced. We understand this to be an order that, among other things, willfully pillages land, subjugates bodies, demarcates movement, dictates value, and colonizes thought. The university as an institution is implicated in these damaging practices, which is evidenced by the voices it has traditionally privileged; the books we (do not) read and the people (not) reading them.
While keeping this context in view, our goal is not merely to diagnose the anti-blackness that characterizes the contemporary “lifeworld.” Nor is it to name the ways, institutions, and individuals that serve white supremacy. Simply rehearsing and rehashing racialized violence and subjection is not the aim of the work we undertake here. Instead, we strive to create a space where both academics and practitioners can articulate original frameworks for thinking and acting beyond the oppressive racial formations that currently condition our lives.
Our task is to contribute to the forums of fugitivity currently cultivating critical thinking and praxis. In these pages, we want to think through and fight for the diasporic futures of people of color across the world. From this vantage, we echo and embrace Public Seminar’s call for confrontation, and we further seek to nurture a space free to question the very categories and presuppositions that inform canonical western thought.
Beyond the diagnostic of well-worn and critically exhausted racial scripts, “Race/isms” is our “appeal to the future we imagine.” It is a medium to think with and through blackness, not simply as a relational category (black/white, black/non-black, non-black/white), but as the starting point for analysis, critique, and to follow Denise Ferreira da Silva’s frame, the creative capacity to signify otherwise.
We seek and encourage challenges to dominant epistemologies, ways of doing scholarship, cultural production, norm making, and politics, that acknowledge the generative force that can come from the margins by centering black and brown people. We strive to amplify new and new kinds of voices, those typically silenced or offered a skeptical audience in the halls of the academy and often, in the world.
In doing so we are committed to thinking community dangerously: dangerously because the community we envisage, led by the emancipatory spirit of racialized others at home and abroad, claims the threshold between the world as it was, as it is, and as it might yet be.