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.