J. PHARAOH DOSS

The New York Times has a forum called Room for Debate.  A while back the debate topic was: Do Black academics have a special obligation to address social and racial issues beyond the campus?

The respondents were Black professors and the majority of them answered no.

An associate professor at Columbia, wrote, “The strange proposition that Black intellectuals—regardless of their training—are ‘race experts’ mainly because they are Black is naïve and potentially dangerous.”

Another professor from Princeton, stated what stands in for the Black intellectual these days is the fast talking “Black PH.D. pundit” who strives to be on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC… “This same pundit has found new career opportunities within universities and colleges by thinking about Black people in ways that conform to the current liberal consensus about racial matters.”

This same “Black PH.D. pundit” was born decades ago after the advent of 24-hour cable news.  This same pundit produced offspring in various fields, but this same fast talking “Black PH.D. pundit” also has illegitimate children that have inherited the title “Black public intellectual” but did not inherit what Harold Cruse called the academic appetite to master various disciplines necessary to advocate for real and effective societal change.

These “Black public intellectuals” are with and without advanced degrees.  They write books, memoirs, or they write for popular magazines or websites, or post videos from lecture tours in various Black neighborhoods. Their thoughts range from progressive politics to Pan-Africanism.

These “Black public intellectuals” came of age as hip hop became the dominate influence in American popular culture.  These individuals credit hip hop’s “conscious rappers” for teaching them how to critically think and for revealing truths never mentioned in their public or private schools.

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