I have a traumatic relationship with the word “intellectual.” This trauma wasn’t fostered by the immense responsibility associated with the title. It was born when I learned that the stigmatization hurled upon anyone donned as such outweighs any social benefits that came with this precarious word.
When I say that I first encountered this word (along with the stigma attached to it) in church, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to any black American involved in serious intellectual work. Religion is a circus in general, but growing up in a black Baptist church provided me with a front row seat. Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church was an excursion through surrealism. One of the great delusions of most religious institutions is the idea that they are devoid of (and free from) politics. The nepotism and family oriented hierarchy that ruled this particular institution proved to me that the exact opposite is…
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