To round out our season-long exploration of the futures of race and Blackness, I’m joined by two thinkers who draw on the power of literature to interrogate our current world and imagine new realities on the horizon.
Assistant professor of English at the State University of New York in Oneonta Sheena Mason breaks down her work on the theory of racelessness which calls for the elimination of racial categories, as a path towards ending racism. And Jess Row, an author and director of the undergraduate Creative Writing programme at New York University, describes the speculative world of his book, Your Face In Mine, where changing one’s racial body assigned at birth is commonplace.
Sheena and Jess’s explorations are what futurists refer to as “wildcards”, seemingly improbable events that, were they to happen, would have outsized implications.
Wildcards are essential to futures thinking. While they may seem far-fetched, deliberately seeking them out affords us a fuller picture of possibilities to expect in the future. My conversations with Sheena and Jess bear out this significance, offering new dimensions to themes we’ve touched on this season, including the links between language, history, and the lived experiences of race.
Like the rest of my guests this season, Sheena and Jess’s inquiries offer no easy or final answers. Rather, they open vital space to examine the otherwise taken-for-granted realities of race that shape our lives – from the intimate places of self-knowledge and self-identity, to the wider contexts where we make communal identities, and set strategies for antiracist politics.
Text by Nigel Richard.