The Working Group on Global Black Studies (WGGBS) is an undertaking led by Professors Michaeline Crichlow at Duke University, Denise Ferreira da Silva at the University of British Columbia and Patricia Northover at the SALISES, University of the West Indies, Mona Jamaica. It aims to hold monthly meetings each academic year with U.S. and international scholars, visual artists, activists, and public interlocutors. It gathers around a concept of Global Blackness, which has been inspired by how the conjunction of the public execution of Floyd with the increased evidence the COVID-19 pandemic was killing a disproportionate number of Black persons, and the worldwide demonstrations that followed provided a glimpse of Blackness’s unique capacity to unlock the key operations of modern power. More precisely, WGGBS rethinks Blackness in the context of contemporary violent crises: the public execution of black and brown bodies; deep inequities heightened by the pandemic; and climate change, migration, as well as precarity, among other considerations.
This approach of global Blackness begins with the premise that it is a political concept. As a framework, global Blackness involves the coeval instantiation of the ethical, juridical, economic, and symbolic. Its mode of analysis is not fixed exclusively to affinities of identities and identification based on origins and epidermal features. Global Blackness is attuned to the lacunae since the construction of the idea of Man and the frame of Western consciousness––attempting to develop ongoing optics that have been kept out of the calculation of human life and value.
We offer Global Blackness as a “hub” that targets, produces and holds many edges, becoming an alternative way of being-in-the-world. For instance, it seeks to identify and explore critical venues open by questions such as: what happens when one thinks through––and extends––Blackness as more than just about what Black persons are, do, or what happens to us? How have past and current expulsions and migrations contributed to the production of different forms of Blackness? How does
Blackness help us to make sense of emergent worldwide struggles and the accompanying forms of re-existence and futurity which seek to collapse the separation between humans and nonhumans? What does the concept of the Global South “do” for global Blackness? What radical emancipatory projects — as well as related plan of refusal and for reparations — become imaginable? What other ways of descriptions and prescription of ethical and existential accounts can finally be entertained?
WGGBS’s foci on these themes and ideas are speculative, axiological, ontological, and poethical. Global Blackness contributes to the strengthening of the methodological and pedagogical elements of Black Studies. It advances viable systems of knowledge and imaginaries that are instrumental to living life in a more care-oriented way.