Saturday, March 14, 2009


It's one thing to be smart. It's totally another thing to be intelligent. Michael Eric Dyson, my friends is VERY intelligent. He is able to articulate himself in such a way that you can't help but admire what he's saying. He has a vast knowledge of Theology, English and African American studies and utilises it to teach and influence others from hip-hop artists to students in the variety of universities he has taught in. Dyson uses the terms "Afristocracy" and "Ghettocracy" to describe a bifurcation in American black society.
He is a professor of Black Studies and Sociology at Georgetown University, a Baptist clergyman, and the author of numerous books of acclaim, his last book celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the effect he had on our nation, published on the 40th anniversary of his death.
The reason I bring this man up is his appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last night on HBO (destined to be repeated at least five times this week). While I respect his opinions and viewpoints, he seemed to be on a mission to use every hundred dollar word he ever acquired. The result of which was having his message completely lost amid the rhetoric and pedagogy. What should have come off as clear thinking came off as mere pomposity.
After the episode, feeling somewhat disappointed by his performance (albeit very satisfied with Sarah Silverman, who also appeared on the episode), it occurred to me how ironic his verbage was. Here he was a champion of civil rights and representative of African American culture and history, and he still struggled with his own slavery of sorts. For all of his education and intelligence, he was still bound by shackles.
The shackles he fights to extricate himself from are the false and cruel bigoted age old notions that a black man will never be thought of as ultra intelligent, and can never be accepted as someone with a once in a generation mind. And so he speaks in defense of his education and standing within the academic world. He trades oratory and eloquence for linguistic ostentation. He speaks at us rather than to us. He speaks from a thesaurus rather than his heart. Pity, but I suppose we are all victims of slavery to one thing or another.
Perhaps I suffer the same malady. A chip on my shoulder over my failure to graduate from college, and prove my personal profundity, which is as yet unproven; and the failure to capitalize on a potential and measure of intelligence I was shackled with in my youth, whether a result of an accurate measurement or not.
Michael Eric Dyson remains a highly intelligent and important voice on the worlds scene today. I highly recommend doing some research on him. Here is a quote from him during a clearer moment.... "Charity is no substitute for justice. If we never challenge a social order that allows some to accumulate wealth--even if they decide to help the less fortunate--while others are short-changed, then even acts of kindness end up supporting unjust arrangements. We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible"


calgeo said...


You have always been very intelligent; something I have always known and that was quite obvious in your youth.

I believe the "capitalization of intelligence" you talk about has very little to do with the approval of a few course instructors at some institution. It has more to do with the desire of betterment and the ability to influence those around you in a positive way. Although a great accomplishment, that institutional paper you wish you had may not really prove much about intelligence; perseverance maybe. I need to tell you that you have clearly become an educated man.

It appears to me that the pursuit of a higher formal education is many times be the result of a little parental push; any support toward higher education was never evident in my childhood. That is why it was "when you go to college" for my daughters.

You do not have a reason for any chip. You have proven yourself too many. Hopefully you have proven yourself to yourself; as you have to me.

The Saugus Bro

Kim said...

An unsolicited endorsement from a complete stranger!!!