Ryan Johnson and Biko Mandela Gray study the relationship between Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Black Thought from Frederick Douglass to Angela Davis. This staging of an elongated dialectical parallelism between Hegel’s classic text and major 19th-20th-century Black thinkers explodes the western canon of philosophy.
Johnson and Mandela Gray show that Hegel’s abstract dialectic is transformed and critiqued when put into conversation with the lived dialectics of Black Thought: from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs through to Malcolm X and Angela Davis.
While Hegel articulates the dynamic logics that we see in these Black thinkers, when they are placed in parallel and considered together, the whiteness, both explicit and implicit, of Hegelianism itself is revealed. Forcing Hegelianism into the embodied history of Black Thought reveals a phenomenology of America whose spirit is Black.
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