If you’ve ever tried to go to college, you’ve interacted with a professor at some point in your life. If you were lucky, you might have run into a black professor. Chances are, you probably never had a black professor in college. Personally, I’d never taken a class from a black professor until I actually became one, since many universities don’t hire black scholars very much. When universities hire black scholars, they enjoy getting rid of them after concluding that they are not as qualified as the white people on the faculty. Like my respected colleague Dr. Cornel West, I’ve had battles on this issue with my own school, Syracuse University, which has a horrible history when it comes to hiring black people who don’t dribble a basketball. Even Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) have this problem. Have you ever counted how many black professors there are in the sciences and business schools of HBCUs? The numbers might surprise you – your kids are not being taught by black professors as much as they might lead you to believe.
What is saddest, however, is not the racism of academia. Even more shocking is the manner by which many intellectuals (black and non-black) are “dumbed down” by the way scholars and professors are trained to think. Rather than exploring the world and engaging in high action scholarship, we are trained like monkeys to sit inside our man-made bubbles within the ivory tower, focusing on miniscule, insignificant problems. Once these problems are solved, we are told to publish the work in academic journals that are read by a very small number of people in our tiny little niche. We become like some Baptist ministers who are so caught up with the collection plate that they no longer care about God – professors are here to share knowledge, and we’ve lost the desire to educate anyone other than ourselves.