From Aimé Césaire to Black Lives Matter: The Ongoing Impact of Negritude

By Sprague, Kevin | The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online), March 2018 | Go to article overview

From Aimé Césaire to Black Lives Matter: The Ongoing Impact of Negritude


Sprague, Kevin, The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)


"To read Césaire's work in light of recent events is to bear witness to the ongoing struggles of Black people. His work is rooted in the history of Blackness."

The latest speaker in the African Studies Center Speaker Series argued that Black Lives Matter and social media activism are a continuation of Aimé Césaire's writings on negritude.

UCLA International Institute, February 23, 2018 - The UCLA African Studies Center welcomed Frieda Ekotto, professor of comparative literature and chair of the department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, on February 12 as part of its African Studies Center Speaker Series; the UCLA Department of African American Studies cosponsored the event.

In her talk, Ekotto positioned the Black Lives Matter movement as a continuation of the struggle for dignity articulated in Aimé Césaire's writings on "negritude" in the 1930s. Césaire (19132008) was a Francophone poet from Martinique who was educated in Paris and returned to Martinique to teach, write and publish. Ekotto argued that social media has allowed Black activists to rebel against dominant discourses, much like Césaire rejected white narratives in his poetry, which spurred the Négritude literary movement that embraced the writer's African identity.

Unspoken Racialized Violence

"Racial politics remain at the core of American life," said Ekotto. "Issues of police brutality, mass incarceration and interpersonal violence at home and abroad have been at the forefront of our political consciousness. All of this violence has origins in the history of memory, origins that have been overlooked if not erased," she said.

"From slavery to segregation, violence against Black bodies has been well documented but gone unspoken. In some respects, social media has changed this dynamic," she continued. "Anyone can snap a picture with the potential to circulate globally and alter the conversation in a moment.

"For Black intellectuals of the past, this wasn't the case. They had to engage with dominant discourses, which often led to their being silenced," Ekotto said, pointing to Ralph Ellison's narrative of the erasure experienced by Black men in his book Invisible Man.

"Today's Black Lives Matter movement seeks to right this erasure of history," said the speaker, referring to the activist movement that emerged after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman, who was ultimately acquitted of Martin's murder. Since the inception of Black Lives Matter, activists have taken up additional causes related to violence against Black Americans, such as mass incarceration and police brutality.

"The movement looks back at history and organizes the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the subsequent trial of Rodney King and even the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as flashpoints on a timeline of the racial inequality at heart of everyday life in America," remarked Ekotto.

"Black Lives Matter reflects on history and demands that Black people be treated as human beings," she added. "This call for respect of the dignity of Black individuals, founded on historical analysis, echoes the negritude literary movement, which was hugely influential on Black culture, identity and empowerment," she said.

Césaire Asserts Self-Defined Black Identity

"Since the death of Trayvon Martin, scholars have turned to writers such as James Baldwin, James Ellison and Ta-nehisi Coates as a starting point to recall the history of racism while contemplating Back value," said the speaker. "English speakers assessing Black Lives Matter and violence in America ought to also consider the work of Aimé Césaire.

"To read Césaire's work in light of recent events is to bear witness to the ongoing struggles of Black people. His work is rooted in the history of Blackness," remarked the speaker. Ekotto explained that the concept of negritude responded to the systematic oppression and alienation of Black individuals by embracing African heritage, analyzing colonial relations of power and incorporating previously ignored Black experience into writing. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

From Aimé Césaire to Black Lives Matter: The Ongoing Impact of Negritude
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.