Defining Intellectual Purposes

Education… Liberation… The Black Radical Tradition.  

These are all heavy ideas for me and in the context of socially stratified societies, these three processes are not necessarily easy to merge, especially in institutions like schools that often maintain oppression.  I imagine myself working here, in this space, to unravel what Education and Liberation IN and FOR and AS the Black Radical Tradition might mean, look like, and do.   This means that this blog will always be a work in progress, a place where I am trying to work out ideas and find that seemingly always fleeting piece of intellectual-political peace.

I will start with myself as a student at that moment where academic scholarship as intellectual work began to have a special, distinct meaning: as an undergraduate student in Sylvia Wynter’s classes. There was, of course, her formidable intellect and body of theory and scholarship.  I will always be reading and learning from her work.  I will always consider myself her student, still trying to grasp the concepts and ways of (re)viewing the world that she offers.  These days, as a college professor, it is also her identity as scholar and professor that impacts me, an identity more rare today in the academy than it was 20 years ago when I first met her.

I don’t intend my posts to be an ode or shrine to her where I describe how much she and her mentoring did for me— that is not intellectual work.  Instead, I want to re-immerse myself in her critical theories. C.L.R. James called Professor Wynter the most formidable intellectual the Caribbean had ever seen and she has never disappointed his assessment.  Talking about her work in terms of a personalized or individual impact would only be the kind of bourgeois intellectual project that she has always challenged in her work and life. Instead, I want to continue using Professor Wynter’s ideas to figure things out, analyze the social world in which we live, and understand more deeply the destructive corporate, liberal-to-neoliberal systems that academics put in place. That is where I will start my blogging… and see where it takes me.