Resisting Colonial Deaths: Marginalized Black Populations and COVID-19 in Brazil and Kenya


  • Wangui Kimari
  • Amanda Pinheiro de Oliveira



The marginalized in Brazil and Kenya, poor Black and Brown bodies, are caught up in colonial and localized regimes of anti-Blackness and complementary regimes of transnational biopolitical governance. In this regard, while they are under siege by colonial borderlines and racialized class dynamics, they are also subject to the surveillance and interventions reserved for those variously defined as displaced and even “refugees,” as but a few examples. These framings of their lives make them continuously at risk of what, borrowing from Frantz Fanon, we understand as colonial deaths. These are the deaths in what he termed the “colonized sector,” where the marginalized are “dying anywhere and from anything.” These populations are, at once, the target of police killings, evictions, and deportations, in addition to having a high vulnerability to becoming COVID-19 fatalities. Building on the praxis contributions of Black and Brown activists in Brazil and Kenya, this reflective article seeks to answer the following three questions: How have the Black and Brown bodies most at risk in these two sites experienced the further uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? What does lockdown mean for those vulnerable to colonial deaths: those who have no citizenship claims to medical care or even homes to shelter in? What lessons can be learned from the local grassroots activisms for these populations, and what work needs to be done to translate these local strategies across Global South geographies?