This reader is intended to be an introduction to the theory called Afro-pessimism. Collected in this volume are articles spanning three decades of thought, with topics ranging from police violence, the labor of Black women, and the slave’s transformation following emancipation, to the struggles of
the Black Liberation Army and elements of anti-Blackness in Indigenous struggles for sovereignty. Although the authors use differing methods of analysis, they all approach them with a shared theoretical understanding of slavery, race, and the totality of anti-Blackness; it is this shared understanding that has been called Afro-pessimism. Importantly though, rather than a fixed
ideology, Afro-pessimism is better thought of as a theoretical lens for situating relations of power, at the level of the political and the libidinal.

Afro-pessimism, in many ways, picks up the critiques started by Black revolutionaries in the 1960s and 70s, elaborating their short-comings and addressing their failures. While we don’t intend to explicate at great length the theory of Afro-pessimism here—this will be done by the articles—it may be helpful to start with a brief overview to give those readers without a context
some footing with which to go forward.

10 Principles for Building Healthy Places

This is a publication about healthy places. Physical design affects human behavior at all scales—buildings, neighborhoods, communities, and regions. The places in which we live, work, and play can affect both our mental and physical well-being. Today, communities across the United States are facing obesity and chronic disease rates of epic proportions. Our built environment offers both opportunities for and barriers to improving public health and
increasing active living. Communities designed in a way that supports physical activity -wide sidewalks, safe bike lanes, attractive stairways, accessible
recreation areas—encourage residents to make healthy choices and live healthy lives. Healthy places in turn create economic value by attracting both younger
and older workers and appeal to a skilled workforce and innovative companies.

One challenge to building healthy places is the lack of a common language between the medical and land use community. To that end, the Urban Land Institute
convened a group of interdisciplinary experts at an August 5–6, 2013, workshop
as part of its Building Healthy Places Initiative. The team—purposely drawn from a variety of fields and perspectives, including health care, architecture, plan-
ning, development, finance, academia, and research—was asked to develop ten principles for building healthy communities around the globe. Team members
devoted two days of intensive study and collaboration, ultimately consolidating and refining their conclusions as the ten principles presented in this booklet.

In spring 2013, the Colorado Health Foundation commissioned three ULI Advisory Services panels with a specific focus on evaluating three communities with very different land use typologies. The three panels were held in Arvada (suburban),
Lamar (rural), and Westwood in Denver (urban), thereby allowing ULI to compare and contrast local actions based on these different land use forms. The Colorado
Health Foundation has been an excellent partner in exploring this important subject and was instrumental in ULI’s decision to conduct this Ten Principles workshop.

The Racial Wealth Gap: Origins and Implications for Philanthropy in the African American Community

In this article, the author argues that any consideration of race and formal philanthropic activity must consider the issue of wealth differences; it is in the area of wealth that the greatest degree of racial inequality exists, with Black families owning about one eighth the assets of White families. In addition to this empirical rationale for investigating the role of net worth in accounting for Black-White differences in philanthropic activity, the author provides a theoretical argument, distinguishing between the role of income and that of
wealth in giving. The author concludes by arguing for a new research agenda that links the burgeoning literature on race and wealth to that on race and philanthropy.

The Ugly Side of America Institutional Oppression and Race

This manuscript examines structural racism through a socio-historical context of institutional oppression and its effects on modern society. The epistemological framework
of intersectionality is used to focus on the overlap of oppression, structural racism, and
implicit bias evident in the stereotypes and perceptions of the African American male
population in the United States. Four eras of socio-historical significance are addressed:
1. Foundations of Racial Oppression; 2. Racism: Reconstruction and Jim Crow; 3.
Renewal: Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience; 3. Reckoning: Embedded Racism and the
Criminal Justice System


Despite sociology’s longstanding interest in inequality, the
internalization of racial oppression among the racially subordinated and its contribution to the reproduction of racial inequality has been largely ignored, reflecting a taboo on the subject. Consequently, internalized racism remains one of the most neglected and misunderstood components of racism. In this article, the author argues that only by defying the taboo can sociology expose the hidden injuries of racism and the subtle mechanisms that sustain
White privilege. After reviewing the concept and providing examples of the phenomenon, the author draws on critical social theory to examine reasons for the taboo, such as a theoretical fixation on resistance, a penchant for racial essentialism, and the limitations of an identity politics. The author concludes by offering a method for studying internalized racism and resistance concurrently within the matrix of intersecting forms of oppression.

The Effects of Internalized Oppression on the Black Community

Intra-racial color discrimination is a controversial subject within the black community. Some people prefer not to discuss it while others contend skin color bias
no longer exists since it is an ugly truth no one wants to readily admit occurs in our culture. Still the truth remains that black people discriminate against each other based on skin color, hair texture, and facial features. This prejudice based on one’s skin and features is what’s known as a color complex. Traditionally, the complex involved light-skinned blacks’ rejection of dark-skinned blacks. However, this complex is not one-sided. The color complex occurs in the form of the dark-skinned spurning the light-skinned for not being “black enough.” This internalized oppression is a barrier to progression in the black community and the human race as a whole. This research aims to raise awareness among all races about this internalized oppression
and what it has done to the black community.


The literature is clear that African American youth receive a shallow account from parents and schools about Black history. African American male youth from lowincome families in particular rarely receive information about Black history. Youth today watch more television than past generations, and African American youth are no exception to this trend. In fact, they watch more television than any other ethnic group. While youth watch television for entertainment, they also absorb new facts and information about the world around them – and ultimately, about themselves. It follows that because Black children watch more television than any other ethnic group, there is greater concern about the content they consume. In this vein, the relationship of television imagery to ethnic identity and development among low-income African American male youth becomes central. Television media has a long history of portraying African Americans in a negative light. Subsequently, the negative media portrayals of African Americans have impacted their racial identity, self-esteem, self-efficacy and their mental health. No research has been done on the effects of watching a Black History film since Roots back in the 1970’s. Further research is needed to understand the impact of how watching and learn from a Black history documentary impacts low-income young African American males’ racial identity, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and depression.

Vertical Farms, Urban Restructuring and The Rise of Capitalist Urban Agriculture

This paper seeks to examine the rise of vertical farms, and the ways in which they advance the corporate food regime and encourage urban elite consumption. It will discuss two contemporary ‘localizing’ trends: the call for local food systems and local urban restructuring in the era of neoliberalism. I argue that the intersection of these two trends, spatially and temporally, created market opportunities for capital to appropriate social movement demands for local agricultural production, and encouraged the rise of capitalist forms of local food production (vertical farms). I will first introduce the vertical farm concept and currently operating vertical farms referred to throughout the paper. Then, using a theoretical tool developed by Robbins (2013), I will differentiate these farms as local food projects that reproduce the capitalist industrial system, rather than challenging it. In the third chapter, I discuss the analytical frameworks used in the paper: uneven geographic development and food regime analysis. The next chapter discusses how class struggle produced the calls for local food movements, as a response to inequity in the global corporate food regime. I then detail how devalued built environments and labor surplus, characteristics of cities under “actually existing neoliberalism”, facilitated corporate appropriation of the local foods concept by producing profitable conditions for capitalist urban agriculture, which was hailed as local economic development. In the last chapter, I will discuss how these farms serve to reproduce troubling trends in the corporate food regime, and signify new developments in capital’s ability to standardize the food cultivation process, and to incorporate it into factory like production systems.

The Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics


The neoliberal turn arguably has a powerful effect on black political ideas, black political practices, and black life in general; the nature of this effect has gone under-examined. In this work I seek to rectify this gap by examining neoliberalgovernmentality as it appears in black communities. The result should deepen our understanding of class politics within racially subjugated communities, and should push us to consider a much wider range of phenomenon when examining the way resources are distributed within already
resource-poor black communities.

Critiquing and Analyzing the Effects of Neoliberalism on Community Organizing: Implications and Recommendations for Practitioners and Educators

Although community organizing has historic and current roots as a mode of practice, characterized by people coming together to collectively address unmet needs and/or challenge inequality, neoliberal trends beginning to form in the 1980s have negatively impacted community organizing. Neoliberal values, which promote individualism, capitalism, the existence of welfare states, and reform from solely within the system are concerning to the future of community practice. This article provides a critique and analysis of the impact of neoliberalism on community organizing in three areas: The influence of evidence-based practice on dictating how community organizers practice, a lack of focus on social movements in community organizing, and the professionalization of community organizing, which marginalizes non-professionals engaged in community organizing. This article exposes potential problems arising from within community organizing as a result of neoliberalism. In order to uncover and analyze the major effects of neoliberalism, we propose a theoretical framework that combines critical theory and Foucault’s work on social control. We end the analysis by providing recommendations for practitioners of community organizing as well as for educators teaching about community organizing.

The Racism Root Kit: Understanding the Insidiousness of White Privilege

Despite efforts to increase racial awareness, Whites continue to display limitations in their ability
to acknowledge their racist transgressions when confronted. Seemingly open-minded Whites
continue to display what many authors have defined as “racial microaggressions” yet display an
unwillingness to explore the antecedents to their behavior once challenged. What are the
mechanisms that Whites utilize that prevent them from being open to considering underlying
motivations of their behaviors? Failure to acknowledge the invisible Whiteness of being, the
myth of meritocracy, and the associated privileges that come from White superiority play a
significant role in preventing the establishment of empathic connections with people of color.
Using the metaphor of a computer root program, which remains hidden from the operating
system, designed to conceal itself from the overall operating system, a set of racist behaviors,
representing a “racist root kit” are highlighted that can serve as an explanation for the difficulties
Whites have when confronted with their behavior.

Meritocracy, Self-Concerns, and Whites’ Denial of Racial Inequity

We propose that embracing meritocracy as a distribution rule causes Whites to deny the existence of racial inequity. On this view, Whites who endorse meritocracy seek to regard themselves as high in merit, and maintain this self-view by denying racial privilege. Four studies show that preference for meritocracy better predicts denial of White privilege than anti-Black discrimination (Study 1), that the desire to see the self as meritorious mediates the relationship between preference for meritocracy and denial of privilege (Study 2), that this
meritocracy–privilege relationship is moderated by Whites’ need to bolster the self (Study 3), and that priming the meritocracy norm reduces perceptions of racial privilege among highly identified Whites (Study 4). Implications for the amelioration of social inequity are discussed.