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Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience Hardcover – March 15, 2000
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In the wake of the civil rights and black power movements of the 1960s, a new discipline called black studies emerged in America's universities in the early 1970s. Now, as demonstrated in this diverse collection, black studies is firmly entrenched in the academic realm. But what is black studies? According to Columbia University professor Manning Marable, editor of Dispatches from the Ebony Tower, "the black intellectual tradition has always been descriptive, that is, presenting the reality of black life and experience from the point of view of the blacks themselves.... It has attempted to challenge and to critique the racism and stereotypes." Though the writers, poets, historians, and academics featured in this book cross many political and ideological lines, they all adhere to the spirit of this definition in their collective critiques. Among the highlights: Maulana Karenga and Molefi Kete Asante review the overall history of black studies and outline the doctrines of Afrocentricity; Marable and Henry Louis Gates Jr. debate the role of activism in black studies; Kamala Kempadoo and Brian Meeks chronicle the plight of black prostitution in the Caribbean and the political dimensions of Jamaica; Cornel West deconstructs Louis Farrakhan and the future of African American progressive leadership; esteemed historian John Hope Franklin offers a personal history of his life; and Amiri Baraka looks at the impact of, and resistance to, global white supremacy. In all, Dispatches from the Ebony Tower is a strong indication that African American intellectualism is alive and well. --Eugene Holley Jr.
Marable has brought together incisive minds who display a willingness to be forhtright in their criticisms, yet who are clearly deeply invested in the future of African American Studies.... An essential read for those committed to maintaining a black racial presence on campuses in the US as well as elsewhere.(Ethnic and Racial Studies)
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Top Customer Reviews
Others (Amiri Baraka) were just rambling. When I read these books written by black "intellectuals" I wonder: Can people really believe *anything* subject to feedback from reality? Apparently they can in the case that they are academics-- which effectively means NO feedback from reality.
The value of this book, IMHO is to demonstrate to black people exactly why academics/ intellectuals are the perfect place to go if you want the WRONG information. WEB DuBois, for example. As much as everyone talks about him, it seems overlooked that he became disgusted when his ideas didn't get lauded with the praise and acceptance that he deserved. And he actually ended up dying a bitter old man and being buried in Ghana.
One thing that I see as a thread of commonality in all of these essays is that they obsessively reinterpret EVERY SINGLE ISSUE as something for political acion. Or collective action of some sort.
The other consistency is that they misunderstand the economics of "black issues." Everyone seems to think that if you take a sociological approach to these things (i.e.,nonsense uttered with seeming profundity--see Amiri Baraka) or repeat them enough times, they'll become true.
It might have been nice if they'd [=the various authors] shown a few more examples of where NOT to go, as learned from past mistakes (i.e., the political panacea), or critiqued what had actually happened when some of these earlier "intellectuals'" ideas had actually been put into practice. Or, derived the origin of some of the problems in reasonably concrete terms. (Housing projects and welfare roles leading to the destruction of the black family, for example.)
I hope that this stands as an example for blacks who take the time to read it just what *not* to do for economic success.