Between Hopelessness and Despair: Afropessimism and Black Nihilism in Ta-Nehisi Coates's Works


  • Eva Puyuelo Ureña Universitat de Barcelona



Afropessimism, Black Nihilism, Hope, Ta-Nehisi Coates


Most of the criticism that Ta-Nehisi Coates received in the aftermath of the publication of his work Between the World and Me orbits around its lack of hopefulness. Indeed, it is several times in the text that Coates tempers his son’s expectations about foreseeing an end to racial conflicts as he tells him that “I do not believe that we can stop [racists], Samori, because they must ultimately stop themselves” (Between the World 151). Certainly, the previous contention has drawn critics into reading Coates’s work as an attack against black agency (Chatterton Williams). It is our contention that, far from being read as a manifestation of cynicism, Coates’s negativity also has a galvanizing dimension. In fact, by emphasizing the futility of hope, which for Coates traps black individuals in an “unending pursuit” of progress (Warren), he provides readers with many alternatives to confront the rampant racism that still pervades U.S. society nowadays.


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How to Cite

Puyuelo Ureña, E. “Between Hopelessness and Despair: Afropessimism and Black Nihilism in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Works”. Revista De Estudios Norteamericanos, vol. 25, June 2021, doi:10.12795/REN.2021.i25.06.



Received 2021-03-20
Accepted 2021-05-18
Published 2021-06-25