Campus needs black intellectualism

Markell Braxton-Johnson

Markell Braxton-Johnson

We are entrenched in a post-truth, “alternative facts” reality. The evidence is most clear in American politics, but it can be seen in all avenues of life. Not only do we face malicious disinformation, we also encounter the continuing scourge of wealth inequality, a poisonous reintroduction of white nationalism and an inability to address global climate change – just to name a few adversities.

Activism is the most common way to confront these types of problems. To be more specific, over the last few years – particularly since the Ferguson protest of 2014 – we’ve seen a resurgence of black activism to challenge these crises. For example, despite their occasional annoyance, the persistent activism of Black Lives Matter has rocketed police brutality into the national discussion. It can be confidently stated that without the tenacious efforts of black activists, our country would be functionally inferior.

One of the best ways to further combat those destructive elements is to encourage a renaissance of intellectual pursuits from black men and women. Though black activism is a crucial part of any future societal or institutional growth, it needs to be supplemented with a movement of black intellectualism.

Here at MSU, there is plenty of room for a resurgence of black intellectualism. The university can start by employing more black academic personnel. Out of the more than 300 instructors on campus, less than a dozen are black.

Black students can also contribute to this rebirth of intellectualism. Instead of striving blindly “for the culture,” let us more precisely denote what we are seeking. If intellectualism is a part of said culture, then let’s commit to serious intellectual queries, progressive thought, critical discourse and rooted introspection.

The path as a black intellectual, is not easy – especially when contrasted with activism. While neither is a leisurely endeavor, at the heart of activism is hope, something far more tantalizing to idealists. Conversely, at the root of black intellectualism is an adherence to dispassionate critical thinking and a vulnerability to an onslaught of racism, gas-lighting, anti-intellectualism and accusations of pretentiousness that will surely come their way.

Intellectualism is a laborious, life-long undertaking, but the reward is transformational. It is an unequivocal betterment of yourself  our university, and the society at large. With the erratic, disharmonious nature of today’s world, now is the opportune time for an interjection of black intellectualism.

Markell Braxton-Johnson is a sports and leisure junior.

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