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published on August 3, 2019

Kimberly Ann Harris

What Does It Mean to Move for Black Lives?

I argue that the key ideas of the movement for Black lives have resonances with Frantz Fanon’s ideas particularly in Black Skin, White Masks. I first demonstrate how the mission to repudiate Black demise and affirm Black humanity captures Fanon’s critique of universal humanism. The fear of the Black body was central to the testimonies of Darren Wilson, Jeronimo Yanez, and George Zimmerman (the individuals that shot and killed Mike Brown, Philando Castile, and Trayvon Martin respectively). Fanon prioritized the role of the body in his account of racism. It is difficult to not see the relevance of Fanon’s analysis when one considers these testimonies. Lastly, I demonstrate how the chants “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “I can’t breathe” are acknowledgments of the significance of Black lives and serve as contemporary instances of Fanon’s sociodiagnostic approach.

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