Inviting Final Thoughts (Focus Vol. I)

From: Josh Guild
To: Focus
Date: October 19, 2015, 5:24pm

Just over a month ago, we initiated this little experiment called Focus, catalyzed by what felt to many to be an unrelenting wave of violent assaults on black bodies and black psyches. It was an invitation to gather together in this virtual space — guided by black studies’ ethos of both critical interrogation and public reckoning — to think about black life, black death, and the pathways towards more liberated futures. The call was an opportunity to think, question, speculate, and reflect in a slightly different register, together and in public.

Photo courtesy of the flickr user, Light Brigading (

Our discussion of Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, and the movements, mobilizations, and media produced under those banners have led us in a number of different directions — from considerations of scope and strategy to reflections about empire and internationalism. We’ve talked about the ways the recent responses to anti-blackness have carved out new spaces of resistance and thought about the reservoirs of individual and collective resilience required by this moment. As several of you have insisted, understanding the present condition demands a critical confrontation with history, dismantling the comfortable mythologies of past social movements and (re)assembling a different kind of black radical archive across a more expansive geography and imaginative terrain.

In so many ways, we’ve only just begun the conversation. There remain a host of pressing questions and concerns worthy of further exploration. But those will have to be left for others to take up, or for another time.

As we close out this inaugural series, I want to thank all of you for your contributions. I welcome any final thoughts you may have, however brief or far-reaching. And in the series’ spirit of critical exchange, I also encourage you to share suggestions for further reading — texts that might further illuminate conditions or inspire and sustain us in these difficult times. This, I would argue, is part of a larger service that black studies can — indeed, must — provide wider publics if it is to mean anything at all in the time of #blacklivesmatter.

In solidarity,


More by this author

How does Black Lives Matter cross borders?
Why has “Black Lives Matter” — as slogan, as hashtag, as rallying cry — been taken up so widely?
If They Take You in the Morning, They Will be Coming for Us That Night
The Lasting Legacy Of Black Marxism

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