Harvard pimping so-called Black scholars

By Sinclere Lee

While it may look good on your resume to be a tenured professor at Harvard, most Blacks with doctorates who take appointments at these white ivy league schools are basically affirmative action whores being pimped by ivy league hustlers like Harvard.

The latest to fall for this scheme is a so-called expert in African-American political behavior, Michael Dawson. Joining the faculty at Harvard University is like the Holy Grail of academia to most Blacks, boosting the Harvard’s Black studies program amid reports of discontent between so-called Black scholars and the administration.

Michael Dawson, director of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, has accepted an appointment at Harvard as a professor of government and Afro-American studies.

Dawson, considered a top scholar of Black politics, its relationship to urban poverty and other cultural issues, will start in July. Being a scholar of Black politics would suggest that the Black scholar should have some contact with the Black community, as a whole. Not so! Most of the so-called Black scholars have little or no contact with rank and file Blacks who live and work in the Black communities they know so much about. They are somewhere hidden in their Ivory Towers far removed from the people they're suppose to be experts on. As as result, you never see them at Historically Black Colleges.

``I very much look forward to joining one of the premier research centers in Afro-American studies,'' said Dawson, 50, who accepted the job in September.

Several professors in Harvard's Afro-American studies department reportedly have been at odds with new university president Lawrence Summers. Is Michael Dawson appointment an attempt to undermine the situation between Summer and the other so-called scholars at Harvard?

Faculty members said several professors had been considering leaving Harvard for Princeton after what they said were a series of snubs by Summers and a failure to make a strong statement in support of affirmative action.

In a released statement, Summers called Dawson an outstanding scholar whose ``teaching and scholarship will strengthen Harvard in important areas of study.''

Last week, Harvard Black studies professor K. Anthony Appiah resigned to move to Princeton, but said he was not leaving because of any rift with Summers. He cited personal reasons.

``I have a wonderful job as professor of Afro-American studies and of philosophy at Harvard. I have the most cordial relations with my colleagues in the faculty and the administration,'' Appiah said.

The head of Harvard's Afro-American studies program, Henry Louis Gates Jr., said he had wanted to recruit Dawson for years and ``finally we got lucky.'' Dawson earned a doctorate from Harvard in 1986.

``He is the leading scholar of Black politics in the world, and he is one of the most important scholars in the entire field of political science,'' Gates told reporters. ``The timing of his coming to us couldn't be better.''

Lawrence Bobo, a Harvard Afro-American studies program professor, said Dawson's appointment shows ``that there's enormous calm at the center of the storm.''

Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson said the Afro-American program was continuing to recruit actively and hoped to make as many as four appointments within the next year.

``People don't realize how strong the intellectual power is at this department. Two or three defections will not seriously harm the department,'' Wilson said.

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