Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Master of the Intellectual Dodge: A Reply to Henry Louis Gates

Martin Kilson


As far as I am able to determine, none of the African-American intellectuals here at Harvard University has contributed thus far to the very important discussion - indeed firestorm— around my colleague Henry Louis Gates' film series, "Wonders of the African World." I am now on the elderly side of the African-American faculty around Harvard these days (I formally retired as of Spring Term 1999 - at 68 years of age) and I was expecting someone among the younger age-cohort of progressive Black intellectuals here at Harvard to join the ranks of Black intellectuals who have rightly challenged the intellectually atrocious film series that Henry Gates has served up for American viewers - for White viewers mainly I think. Among the younger age-cohort of progressive Black intellectuals at Harvard whom I thought would join this discussion were the following: Christopher Edley and Lani Guinier in the Law School; Cornel West in Theology/Afro-American Studies; Lorand Matory in Anthropology/Afro-American Studies; Larry Bobo in Sociology; and Evelyn Brooks-Higginbotham in History/Afro-American Studies. So the absence so far of any participant from my Black colleagues here at Harvard in critiquing Gates' intellectually shameful film series, has partly sparked my decision to join this criticism. But it was especially Henry Gates' response to his critics - especially to Professor Ali Mazuri - that really pushed-me-over-the-edge, so to speak; that fired me up enough to join the discussion.

Full Text:


West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

Published by Africa Resource Center, Inc. All inquiries about rights, permissions, reprints and license should be directed to AfricaResource.

Copyright © Africa Resource Center, Inc., 1999 - .