This paper contributes to conversations in Black Geographies by reflecting on the nature of anti-Black oppression. Much work within Black Geographies has (understandably and importantly) drawn out the ways in which race and class intersect with one another. This paper acknowledges the necessity of such an approach yet argues that scholars must be careful not to conflate anti-Black oppression with class-based oppression, as anti-Blackness is its own logic of oppression that eclipses class. I draw on three 20th-century examples of the displacement of middle-class Black communities in the USA to highlight how the logic of anti-Blackness leads to the spatial marginalisation of Blackness, regardless of class status. Specifically, I examine how 20th century infrastructure building entailed the routine destruction of Black middle-class neighbourhoods and commercial districts, a process made possible through the assumed a-spatiality of Black populations. I argue that while race and class do frequently intersect, examples such as those in this paper highlight the need to analyse Blackness ontologically. A scholarly commitment to rigour and political commitment to social justice demand that Black Geographies attend to the logics that structure anti-Blackness, as this is an important step toward acknowledging the struggles of all sections of the African Diaspora.
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The author would like to thank Chris Courtheyn for reading an early draft of this paper and offering constructive feedback. The author would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their help in clarifying the paper's arguments.
The information, practices and views in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). © 2019 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
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