Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul?: Essays

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In this collection of insightful and incisive essays about Black identity, art, and culture written between 2014 and 2020, Jesse McCarthy offers thought-provoking commentary about fast-moving societal changes impacting a rising generation. A leading voice in the contemporary Black intellectual tradition, McCarthy deconstructs the emergent cultural evolution erupting from––and in spite of––the collective trauma stemming from the tragic murders of unarmed Black people, the rise of the alt-right, and the continuing battles against historical truths.

McCarthy’s essays examine Black resistance erupting amid pain and chaos; the insistence on self-determination in defining identity and dignity. Every essay deserves a second take, as McCarthy weaves allusions to thinkers, writers, and philosophers, connecting threads to Black creative works that are challenging political and social hierarchies. Notable reflections highlight Kehinde Wiley’s portraiture, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ role in provoking a new conversation about reparations, and Frank Wilderson’s revolutionary stance on Afropessimism.

A Harvard University professor, McCarthy does what scholars do best: reflect upon, respond, and react to works of contemporary and historical change-makers. The exercise in meaning-making also lends itself to tender moments of personal reflection about the author’s place in the struggle and the complexities of Black identity outside the confines of racial stratification in the United States.


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Author Jesse McCarthy
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Liveright
Publish Date 2021-Mar-30
ISBN 9781631496486
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue August 2021
Category History
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