Professor Rogers is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of Graduate Studies of Political Science at Brown University. His current book project is, The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought.
Professor Rogers describes his lecture: "'One of the fundamental paradoxes of black politics,' writes Barnor Hesse and Juliet Hooker, is 'the invariable futility of directing activism toward a racially governing regime historically founded on the constitutive exclusion and violation of blackness.' This paradox raises a fundamental question: How can African Americans appeal to the nation in the name of freedom and equal standing, if the ethical and political presuppositions of the polity turn on their fundamental exclusion? Although this question animates our contemporary moment, especially with the ascendancy of Afro-pessimism, this essay recovers its initial articulation as well as pessimistic response from the 19th century African American nationalist Martin Delany. And it seeks to distill from Delany’s counterpart, Frederick Douglass, an alternative vision that both resist the paradox and the political logic that gives it shape.