The Role of the Black Scholar

“While I am a product of the poor black working class, whose members labored in factories, stockyards, construction sites, and the kitchens of the well-to-do, the value of education was always supreme”. (Aldon D. Morris, The Scholar Denied: W.E.B Du Bois and the birth of Modern Sociology)

In a society that is faced by the constant struggles of inequality, discrimination, ignorance and racism, education seems to be at the forefront of the marginalized mind. History is a testament to understanding the importance of the “black scholar” within an educational system dominated by the privileged group. Aldon D. Morris took note of this concept when he discovered the works of W.E.B. Du Bois in the world of sociology. Being educated in a time period where the color of your skin determined how you were treated in society, gave a sense of empowerment to a young Morris who battled with the obvious caste system that constantly reminded him of his position as the “inferior”. According to Morris, “caste, peonage debt, and racial violence became an enduring emotional and intellectual obsession that I sought to understand from a young age”. Du Bois’s intellectual contributions to building the “black scholar”, created a movement that contradicted the rhetoric that was fed to Morris, that the black mind was not capable of comprehending the same concepts as the “superior” mind.

For years Du Bois’s contribution to sociological methodologies was ignored by white sociologist because his work included History, Anthropology, Political Science, Economics and the Humanities. Du Bois suggested that, “authentic social science was possible and that the inferior and superior races did not exist”. One can note why this was undermined in the early days of sociology, because in order to address that there is such a thing as racial inequality and racism, then they would have to admit to its existence. this is much like what we are dealing with in present day, United states.

The role of the black scholar in today’s society is represented in different forms and intellectual levels. Recent injustices against the African American community has birthed the syllabus movement, creating specific outlets for people to contribute to educating the masses on the #BlackLivesMatter movement and different events such as Ferguson. These syllabi’s create a dialogue for people to read, understand and address matters that may not draw their interest because they do not connect to them in the same way as I would. Ignorance seems to be a common trend among the population who are not affected by the events that society is facing. This will continue if we continue to lose interest in educating ourselves on the “elephant in the room” or as Albert Einstein puts it, “somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely nearsighted person who scorns eye glasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else”.  061013-national-black-college-students-debt