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The Politics of Richard WrightPerspectives on Resistance$
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Jane Anna Gordon and Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175164

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175164.001.0001

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Reading Richard Wright beyond the Carceral State

Reading Richard Wright beyond the Carceral State

The Politics of Refusal in Black Radical Imagination

(p.310) 19 Reading Richard Wright beyond the Carceral State
The Politics of Richard Wright

Laura Grattan

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter by Laura Grattan offers an alternative to critics and admirers who equate Wright’s resistance to white supremacy and capitalism with either ressentiment or violence. Drawing on Native Son,Black Boy, and 12 Million Black Voices, the essay argues that Wright constructs a multifaceted politics of refusal that puts the regeneration of the body and its aesthetic senses at the center of struggles to create “new and strange way[s] of life.” Individual and collective transformation entails repertories of refusal that lessen attunement to an antiblack social order and that make possible generative practices necessary for freedom. The essay concludes by evaluating the creative potential of refusal in movements to abolish policing and prisons.

Keywords:   Richard Wright, refusal, imagination, social death, carceral state, Ta-Nehisi Coates

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