Skip to body


College of Arts & Humanities


Give to CAH

Contact Us

Michelson Hall Room 104
400 E. University Way MS# 7518
Ellensburg, WA 98926

Follow Us


Frank B. Wilderson to Speak on Mass Incarceration and Racial Justice

Professor, filmmaker, activist and author Frank B. Wilderson, III, PhD will be speaking at Central Washington University to share his views on racial justice. His presentation, “Capital or Social Death? The Conflicting Logics of America’s Carceral Dream” will take place Wednesday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC) Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

A professor at the University of California, Irvine with a background in literature, Wilderson is an experienced poet, author and dramaturge. He grew up through the ‘60s and ‘70s, when civil unrest and protests were not uncommon. In the ‘90s, Wilderson spent time in South Africa both as a professor and one of two elected American officials with the African National Congress (ANC). He worked in the armed wing of the underground while South Africa was transitioning from apartheid. Wilderson writes about these experiences—including how Nelson Mandela once called him “a threat to national security”—in his memoir “Incognegro.”

“Half of the book is a kind of thematic montage about episodes of political awakening and development of myself in the United States,” Wilderson said.

His experiences in South Africa shaping his perspective of America, Wilderson speaks passionately on the subject of mass incarceration. He explores society through an afro-pessimistic lens.

“What afro-pessimism does is it tries to explain how these grand narratives talk about people suffering,” Wilderson said. He elaborated that certain narratives “simply cannot explain the essence of black suffering.”

Wilderson invites his audience to explore the root causes of mass incarceration and consider various forms of captivity. He does not shy away from sensitive subjects, encouraging deep contemplation and examination of American society and politics. Tying in themes from the film “Manderlay,” Wilderson’s unique firsthand experiences combined with his powerful writing makes him a fascinating voice when it comes to the subject of social justice.

Wilderson’s appearance is part of the CWU Social Justice and Human Rights Series. This year’s inaugural theme is Mass Incarceration and Racial Justice: Black and Brown Lives Do Matter. This event is sponsored by Campus Life, Africana and Black Studies, S.I.S.T.E.R.S., Brother to Brother, Scholars in Action and the Male Success Initiative. Persons of disability may make arrangements for reasonable accommodation by calling 509-963-1433 or by emailing


For more information, please contact Keith Champagne, Ph.D., at 509-963-1433 or at

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.