In a previous blog I discussed how some academics believe that the way to be successful is to integrate and mobilize within the system. I said that they have to believe this if they want to be an academic. To give context, I was discussing how some academics who want to change academia believe that they have to eat crow until the gate keepers of academia die. Afterwards, they will be able to influence academia the way that they want to.
Maybe I am wrong here but it seems like only people who believe that we can change society by mobilizing within institutions would be able to get a PHD. I don't think that anyone who thought different would be able to eat crow until the gate keepers died. They wouldn't be able to do it because they would think that it's a lost cause. If that's true, then where are these sorts of people? Where are the types of people that think mobilizing within institutions is a lost cause? They can't all be in prison? I don't mean to joke at all. I'm dead ass and I hope the way that I am talking about this is not offensive. I'm assuming that these people may find it hard to work at all because to work means to work for the man. I am also assuming that these people might have tried to work outside of the system and that some have gone to prison for this. Forgive me if I am being offensive in the way that I am wording this but where are they if they are not in prison? And what avenues do the two types of people (people who are willing to mobilize within institutions to change things and people who don't.) to connect to each other?
I remember reading James Baldwin's, The Fire Next Time. I remember when he talked about the time when the Honorable Elijah Muhammad invited me to have dinner at his home. The two men had very different outlooks on how to solve racism in America. The only reason they met (and I am inferring this from what James Baldwin said in the book) is because Muhammad thought that Baldwin might change his mind about things. The thing that stuck with me was that the whole ordeal really impacted Baldwin. While I don't think he ever agreed with Muhammad, the meeting significantly altered the way that he thought. I'd like to think that the sort of introspection and critical thinking he did because of the meeting, impacted him for the better in the sense that he was more wise because of it. The meeting made him more aware of what he didn't know about himself. It made him more question himself.
Don't we need meetings like this? Don't we need more meetings of people who are diametrically opposed on the race issue discussing the suppositions and presuppositions that shaped their philosophy? It seems like the people who think that mobilizing within institutions will help fix racism in America would be more likely to go into academia, while the people who disagree would find some other avenue to change things. Unfortunately, (and I am just assuming this) conversations between the two groups are few and far between. I am assuming that the two groups meeting and discussing the issues are rare because the people who favor mobilizing within the system have no incentive to talk with those who don't favor mobilizing within the system. But even more than that, their ideas get privileged because their ideas reflect the status quo. Also, they have more power because they have the academia behind them. Their works get published. They are chosen as champions of the movement.
My theory has other implications as well. One of the reasons why it may be so easy for people to wait until the gatekeepers die is because the people who would have good reasons for being against them are alienated from them. It could be that the whole thing seems like common sense because there aren't very many people around them who would have morally justifiable reasons for disagreeing. But if they would meet those people and if they would talk to them....