Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Unlike many Black-specific disciplines in the academy (Black psychology, Black history, etc), Black philosophy never completely forged a unique conceptual framework separate from American and Continental intellectual traditions. Instead the field has continued to define its validity by the extent that Black authors extend the thought of white philosophers towards race. This epistemic convergence, or the extent to which Black theory converges with established white philosophical traditions, and hence white racial sensibilities, continues to misguide many of the current philosophical systems of Africana thought. Because this practice is so dominate, it has made current scholarship in African American and Africana thought derelict, in the sense that all investigations into Blackness are normatively, hence ideologically driven, and not culturally relevant to the actual lives of Africana people. Because whites are able to connect their work in traditional philosophy to studies of race under the misnomer of "critical race theory," these white associations with Black philosophy have given the illusion that integration and multicultural exchanges in Africana philosophy contribute to the restructuring of the discipline of philosophy and psychical changes in whites. Unfortunately this is merely wishful thinking that fails to consider the empirical research that confirms the undeniable failure of integration. This inability by Blacks to accept and explore racism without the illusion of racial coexistence in America makes current approaches to Black philosophy irrelevant to the present day struggles that Blacks find themselves burdened by in the American context. This dissertation however argues that the acceptance of the racial realist perspective, which accepts the permanence of racism, allows Blacks to "conceptually disengage" the triumphalism of the integrationist myth and explore the world without the illusion of anthropological parity. This lacuna in the European narration of liberal democracy's vision of equality spurs the culturalogical turn in Critical Race Theory, and introduces the philosophical insights of Derrick Bell and Paul Robeson as guiding voices towards the silencing of the idealist trends in contemporary studies of racism.
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