blackintellects's Journal

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Black Intellects
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My possible inauthenticity as a black person dawned in elementary school, when I suspected that most of my classmates hadn't read "Little Women" 10 times or plopped before the TV, notebook paper in hand, to record lyrics from Rodgers and Hammerstein's annual "Cinderella" telecast.

Jackson—a 2001 Pulitzer finalist whose searing columns have won four NABJ commentary awards—figured things out early, too. "I can't play basketball," he begins. "I've been told I don't talk right and can't swear right. . . . I couldn't even say Right on right, no matter how many Free Angela Davis buttons I wore. Friends tried to give me dance lessons in college. . . .

"They said, 'Derrick, I'm sorry—I don't think you're going to make it.'"

Early in his career, Jackson was speaking to a mostly black college audience when someone asked him what his hobbies were. "I said I liked bird-watching and hiking," he says. "And they looked at me like I'd dropped in from Mars."

The Struggle To Think Outside The 'Black' Box


I always found race difficult to understand. It was never intuitive. And the reason was simple. Like every other white person, I had never experienced it myself: the meaning of color was something I had to learn. Color is something white people never have to think about because for them it is never a handicap, never a source of prejudice or discrimination, but rather the opposite, a source of privilege. However liberal and enlightened I tried to be, I still had a white outlook on the world. My wife was the beginning of my education. —Martin Jacques

The Global Hierarchy of Race


I have been told that I do not understand the racial situation. Because I do not blame whites indiscriminately, I have been informed that I am considered "a corporate tool" and "not quite black enough." If being black today means being racist, then being "not black enough" is fine by me. —Ciara Torres

Not Black Enough


I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks. —Peggy McIntosh

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

White Privilege


Black men, the logic goes, are not supposed to think in international or deep philosophical terms. Instead, if one is to be a "true brotha" life should be a lot more simple than that: quit school, slap "hoes," smoke weed, impregnate half the female population, sell drugs, and serve a couple of prison sentences.

Call me cynical, but I am not the only African-American who faces that type of dilemma on a daily basis. Black intellectuals often find themselves in the cross hairs of opposition from a variety of sources. This social opposition is widespread and has caused deep and bitter divisions within the black community, and has caused somewhat of a social disconnect between Dubois's "Talented Tenth" and the "Boyz 'n da Hood." —Brian Clardy

You Thank You White!!!: Exploring Anti-Intellectualism in Black America

The mission: To address and spread awareness of the (historical and contemporary) political, social, and cultural issues affecting the Black/African-American community. This is intended as an ideas and exchange forum where substantive topics, not pop culture or celeb tidbits (unless they're relevant in a broad social or political sense), are the topics of posting and/or conversation.

If you click the join button, please make the effort to be an active contributor (toss out a question for discussion, post an article, etc.). Posts don't have to be long—just informative and/or thought-provoking.

While the emphasis is on the Black/African-American experience and perspective, the door is also open to persons of other origins. Anyone with an open mind, a friendly attitude, a little knowledge to drop, and a will to learn, is more than welcome to join and participate. By joining, it's understood that you've read and agreed to abide by the guidelines below.


Activism, Affirmative Action, Africa, Arts and Entertainment, Business and Economics, Civil Rights, Education, Election 2008, General News/Current Events, Happenings With Other People of Color, Health, History, Tradition and Diaspora, Personal Stories/Anecdotes, Politics, Quotes, Racism/Anti-Black Violence, Relationships, Sports, Stereotypes...


There are rules in place and everyone on the flip-side of this page follows them. Those that don't get bounced (the needs of the community will always override the needs of any one individual). Ignorance of the rules is no excuse for breaking them. If you post before breezing through them, and your post is in violation, your entry may be deleted and/or you may (with or without warning) be subject to suspension of your posting privileges.

General Posting Guidelines:

Lively debate and blunt discussions/exchanges are welcome, expected, and encouraged. Vulgarity, rudeness, hatred, lack of sensitivity and class, and any form of prejudice based on race, creed, color, or sexual orientation, however, won't be tolerated here. Likewise, if you're into trolling and inducing flame wars, this isn't the right community for you. We're here so that members can exchange information and viewpoints—not hate.

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"I have rights! You're (all these rules are) denying me freedom of speech!"

Loosely translated, on the internet that usually means "I have no clue what the other 26 amendments are but I have that first one memorized verbatim and want to retain it so that I can trash people at will."

Freedom of speech? Although the Constitution guarantees that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech," blackintellects isn't governed by Congress and the posting guidelines laid out here are in place to ensure that everyone feels free to express themself in a civil environment.

Intellects --> Mind over mouth.

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I do not always speak up for all the issues and problems that disturb me. I give voice to some and not for others. I can't pretend that I make rational choices where I "choose my battles." Sometimes I am just too tired to care, sometimes I lack courage, sometimes I notice that others have picked up that cause and I don't have to. But at least I now notice when I remain silent, and am more conscious that silence is a choice I make. I'm learning that silence is not the absence of action, but another form of action. And I hold myself accountable for that.

The 18th century historian Edmund Burke said it clearly: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I hope that I am doing what I can, although it may not be enough. And if my grandchildren one day come to me and ask, "Why didn't you do something" at least I will be able to tell them what I did.

Silence is the Problem


First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out.

Martin Niemoller

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