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Black History Month February 2022

Dr. Anthony Hatch Guest Lecture  — Friday, Feb. 4th, 2022; 12:30pm – The Data Will Not Save Us: Afropessimism and Racial Antimatter in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology, together with the Department of African American Studies, is pleased to virtually welcome Dr. Anthony Hatch to The College of New Jersey. Dr. Hatch is the 2021-22 Robin M. Williams Distinguished Lecturer as chosen by the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS). Through a competitive application process among member institutions of ESS, TCNJ was chosen as one of two campuses to welcome Dr. Hatch.

As a kickoff to Black History Month 2022, Dr. Hatch will speak on

The Data Will Not Save Us: Afropessimism and Racial Antimatter in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, February 4; 12:30pm on zoom

Extended Abstract

The Trump Administration’s governance of COVID-19 data has become a front and center issue in the battle against racism in health and healthcare. Partly due to the convergence of the Black Lives Matter uprisings and protest movements with the pandemic, anti-racist COVID data science and discourse has proliferated much like the virus it frames. The standard assumption is that racialized COVID-19 health disparities would have been greater and more harmful without this data. This paper challenges this assumption by asking if the production and circulation of COVID-19 racial inequality data actually strengthened anti-Black racism in the United States? The production of racialized epidemiological data is a necessary feature of an antiracism because we must generate a metric that is legible to the racial state—that mechanism is numbers. Numbers can force a reckoning with racial inequity, but sometimes that reckoning can be a liberal fantasy. None of this data has led to the meaningful reduction or elimination of a single racial health disparity, ever. The painstaking calculation of the pandemic’s effects on Black people is a necessary but insufficient condition for saving Black people’s lives. By itself, this data will not be enough to stem the tide of anti-Black racism as it washes over Black bodies. The data will not save us.

The patterns of racial necropower governing the COVID-19 pandemic are not accidental nor fixable, but designed through and through, transmogrifying the pandemic into a new necropolitical war that requires killing racialized Others to save the White nation. Counting the dead in such a scenario is not enough. This paper interprets the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of Afropessimism which provides a framework for reconciling the contradictions between racial health disparities research and racial necropolitics in the US. And yet, Afropessimism also offers an exit ramp for critical race theorists who are tired of same-old reform-retrenchment pattern that has characterized US race relations since Reconstruction. That exit ramp leads away from liberal reform science and towards abolitionist forms of organizing against oppressive social systems and towards the expansion of communities’ capacities for caring for people. Anti-racist health scholars must be willing to question the foundational assumptions that uphold their field of investigation and to confront the modalities of racial capitalism and racist government that establish the institutional contexts that require Black death and liberal illusions of epidemiological numeracy.

Bio: Anthony Ryan Hatch, Ph.D., is a sociologist and Associate Professor and Chair of the Science in Society Program at Wesleyan University, where he is affiliated with the Departments of African American Studies and Sociology and the College of the Environment. Dr. Hatch is an expert on how medicine and technology impact social inequalities in health. Dr. Hatch is the author of Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America which critiques how biomedical scientists, government researchers, and drug companies use concepts of race and ethnicity to study and treat metabolic syheadshotndrome, a biomedical construct that identifies people at high risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. His second book, Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America, examines how custodial institutions like prisons, nursing homes, and the US military use psychotropic drugs to manage captive populations in the United States. He is co-lead on the Race, Ethnicity, and Biohumanities theme in the Sydney Center for Healthy Societies and member of the Health and Social Equities Hub at King’s College London. At Wesleyan, he directs Black Box Labs and is involved in the Center for Prison Education and other initiatives.


William Charles Anderson Guest Lecture — Thursday, Feb. 24th, 2022; 5-6 pm in ED 212 with a book signing to follow — Citizen Contradiction: Black History and the State

William C. Anderson is a freelance writer. His work has been published by the Guardian, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others. You can read many of his writings at Truthout or at the Praxis Center for Kalamazoo College, where he’s a contributing editor covering race, class, and immigration. Mr. Anderson’s new book The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition is available now and will be available for purchase and signing after his talk.

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