The recognition of and desire to prevent genocide are unquestionable social and political necessities. But despite genocide’s standardization and codification in international law, understandings and applications of its meaning are still contested. Using Germany’s response to the 1904–1908 Ovaherero and Nama genocide and Raphael Lemkin’s response to the Civil Rights Congress’s 1951 “We Charge Genocide” petition to the United Nations, this paper argues the necessary existence of an anti-Black exception to acknowledgements of genocide, yielding a paradox in our understandings of recognizing genocide that renders Black death necessary.

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