by Matthieu Chapman
West Virginia University Press, 2023
Paper: 978-1-952271-92-2 | eISBN: 978-1-952271-93-9
Library of Congress Classification E185.93.C2C49 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 973.04960730092


A heartrending and engrossing memoir that challenges narratives of racial progress and postracial America.
“Every so often, a book comes along that changes the way we see, speak, and think about the world. Shattered is one of those books.” —Frank B. Wilderson III, author of Afropessimism and Incognegro

From a distance, Matthieu Chapman’s life and accomplishments serve as an example of racial progress in America: the first in his family to go to college, he earns two master’s degrees and a doctorate and then becomes a professor of theater. Despite his personal and academic success, however, the specter of antiblackness continues to haunt his every moment and interaction.

Told through fragments, facets, shards, slivers, splinters, and absences, Shattered places Chapman’s own story in dialogue with US history and structural analysis of race to relay the experience of being very alive in a demonstrably antiblack society—laying bare the impact of the American way on black bodies, black psyches, and black lives. From the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the offices of higher education, from a Loyal White Knights flyer on his windshield to a play with black students written by a black playwright, Chapman’s life story embodies the resistance that occurs, the shattering, collapsing, and reconfiguring of being that happens in the collisions between conceptions of blackness. Shattered is a heartrending and thought-provoking challenge to narratives of racial progress and postracial America—an important reminder that systemic antiblack racism affects every black person regardless of what they achieve in spite of it.