Are there particular pressures on black academics to be public intellectuals? How does one respond to those pressures while maintaining an active academic career? Are black academics more at risk if they do become public intellectuals? The New York Times hosts a discussion by John McWhorter and Glenn Loury.
McWhorter calls for a balance. “The academic realm can be highly unsatisfying” because people don’t read the work we shed blood, sweat, and tears to finish. But at the same time, people like Cornel West or Henry Louis Gates haven’t been rigorous academics since they were young men.
At the same time, graduate students should not have any different expectations of black scholars than they do of white. McWhorter heard an obituary of Manning Marable, who held a joint appointment in History and African American studies at Columbia, on NPR in which a student raved about all the “files and folders” that Marable had, as if to prove he was truly a serious academic.