The Black Community’s Love-Hate Relationship With Black Academics



Why do some people in the black community seem to either love or loathe black academics?  It’s a question I have pondered in recent months as I seem to keep bumping into black folks who despise African Americans who seek to farther their education or better themselves.  Where does this mentality come from and what can we do to stop it?

Some people in the black community hate black scholars because they feel they are too uppity, bourgeoisie or out of touch with reality.   Some of this criticism may be warranted.  But I also believe it is a mistake to overlook the important work done by countless African Americans professors who seek to address the the issues facing our communities.   In some cases they provide important data about housing, economic or education trends that can affect people of color.  Their work, however, has at times been rejected in part because they are not seen as sincere, authentic or “real”.  Perhaps the most damaging criticism leveled at black academics is that they are somehow not black enough.  To this day I do not fully understand exactly what that means.  I know one thing for sure; I have never heard any of my Caucasian friends talk about how they were shunned by their peers because they were not Irish, German or Italian enough.

While some African-Americans hate black scholars there are others who want to celebrate their every achievement.  They just can’t get enough of them.  They believe that black academics are to be celebrated because they have managed to make it through the educational minefield in America and somehow found a way to succeed despite inequities.  When a black person walks across the stage to get his or her degree they relish in the fact that one of their own “made it”.

So what does all this mean for black folks who desire to secure a PhD, a Juris Doctorate or a medical degree?  It means that in some circles they will be hated and despised while in others they will be loved and praised.


5 responses to “The Black Community’s Love-Hate Relationship With Black Academics

  1. Pingback: The Black Community’s Love-Hate Relationship With Black Academics | Urban Ed Researcher·

  2. I use to see this growing up, if your lighter you’re better, where you at,
    But I see much less of this today, and that’s because times change with people change, the society has more technology, then I could’ve dreamed of as a kid, black-and-white TV, the radio,
    So I do understand what you saying I just I’m happy to say I see less of it, that’s a good thing.

  3. Too many remnants of classism and separatism exist within our community Marc. In the church, academics are respected and praised. Yet other anointed brothers and sisters are ignored or given minimal attention because of their lack of formal education. In the secular world, especially in inner cities, “educated blacks” are looked down at or thought to be “better than” the rest and need to go back to the burbs.
    Yes, technology hides some of this, but make no mistake the ideas remain the same. Look at responses to post. Look at what is glorified; ghetto vine posts, and the like. No one is, or should I say, few are celebrating or encouraging advancement. Those type of post get ignored. Same behavior, different mindset.
    Yet other cultures continue to thrive all around us. This is indeed something we must continue to talk about and keep on the table.

    • You hit the nail on the head Frank. Too often choose a pastors based on their credentials and not on their character. And don’t get too edu-ma-cated because black folks will ostracize you in a minute. They will mumble about how you aint “real” and how you ain’t down with us. I could comment on this a little bit more but I am pressed for time. Maybe I will say more about it in blog entry in the future.

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