Everything Black – an extract from ‘Black Dignity’ by Vincent W. Lloyd

Why Black dignity is the paradigm of all dignity and Black philosophy is the starting point of all philosophy

Black Dignity: The Struggle against Domination, a radical work by Vincent W. Lloyd, one of the leading young scholars of Black thought, delineates a new concept of Black dignity, yet one with a long history in Black writing and action. Previously in the West, dignity has been seen in two ways: as something inherent in one’s station in life, whether acquired or conferred by birth; or more recently as an essential condition and right common to all of humanity.

In what might be called a work of observational philosophy—an effort to describe the philosophy underlying the Black Lives Matter movement—Lloyd defines dignity as something performative, not an essential quality but an action: struggle against domination. Without struggle, there is no dignity. He defines anti-Blackness as an inescapable condition of American life, and the slave’s struggle against the master as the “primal scene” of domination and resistance. Exploring the way Black writers such as Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, and Audre Lorde have dealt with themes such as Black rage, Black love, and Black magic, Lloyd posits that Black dignity is the paradigm of all dignity and, more audaciously, that Black philosophy is the starting point of all philosophy.

You can read the ‘Everything Black’, the first chapter of Black Dignity below:

Vincent W. Lloyd is associate professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University. His previous books include Black Natural Law and the coedited Race and Secularism in America. He coedits the journal Political Theology.


Introducing the Black Lives series

Pairing highly qualified writers with subjects whose lives illuminate the breadth, diversity, and richness of Black experiences, the Black Lives series produces brief, authoritative biographies of individuals of African descent who profoundly shaped history.

The first two books in the series will publish in 2023 and you can find details about both the books below.


Samuel Ringgold Ward
A Life of Struggle

R. J. M. Blackett

The rediscovery of a pivotal figure in Black history and his importance and influence in the struggle against slavery and discrimination.

“Samuel Ringgold Ward’s fascinating life is emblematic of the netherworld between slavery and freedom that many Black Americans navigated during the nineteenth century. Smart and well told, Blackett’s biography gives us a truly diasporic account of the struggles of one such important figure.”—Claude A. Clegg III, author of The Price of Liberty: African Americans and the Making of Liberia

Publishing in hardback on 23rd May 2023

Find out more


Isaac Murphy
The Rise and Fall of a Black Jockey

Katherine C. Mooney

The rise and fall of one of America’s first Black sports celebrities.

Katherine C. Mooney uncovers the history of Murphy’s troubled life, his death in 1896 at age thirty-five, and his afterlife. In recounting Murphy’s personal story, she also tells two of the great stories of change in nineteenth-century America: the debates over what a multiracial democracy might look like and the battles over who was to hold power in an economy that increasingly resembled the corporate, wealth-polarized world we know today.

Publishing in hardback on 27th June 2023

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