Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation
By Kris Manjapra
If the 1619 Project illuminated the ways in which life in the United States has been shaped by the existence of slavery, this “historical, literary masterpiece” (Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy) focuses on emancipation and how its afterlife further codified the racial caste system—instead of obliterating it.
To understand why the shadow of slavery still haunts us today, we must look closely at the way it ended. Between the 1770s and 1880s, emancipation processes took off across the Atlantic world. But far from ushering in a new age of human rights and universal freedoms, these emancipations further codified the racial caste systems they claimed to disrupt.
In this paradigm-altering book, acclaimed historian and professor Kris Manjapra identifies five types of emancipations across the globe and reveals that their perceived failures were not failures at all, but the predictable outcomes of policies designed first and foremost to preserve the status quo of racial oppression. In the process, Manjapra shows how, amidst this unfinished history, grassroots Black organizers and activists have become custodians of collective recovery and remedy; not only for our present, but also for our relationship with the past.
Black Ghost of Empire will rewire readers’ understanding of the world in which we live. Timely, lucid, and crucial to our understanding of contemporary society, this book shines a light into the gap between the idea of slavery’s end and the reality of its continuation—exposing to whom a debt was paid and to whom a debt is owed.Tweet