ABSTRACT

This article asks why African American Philosophy matters. The notion of the “Black philosopher” continues to be an enigma. African descendants are not generally associated with the revered location and status of “the philosopher” and with doing philosophy. In a celebration of the sustained work of the Black philosopher-practitioner, who continues to suffer a fate of deliberate academic “invisibility” and historical erasure, this article supports the expansion of philosophical categories, philosophical conversation, and philosophical inclusivity. This work contends that the marginalization of African American philosophy can be understood from a synthesis of Foucault’s thesis of “subjugated knowledge” (how certain discourses are routinely disqualified by dominant ones) and Black philosopher Lewis Gordon’s explanation of “subverted realization,” which is built in to “white” modern thought. Both key philosophers help locate the problem questioned here. The overriding current of the “white (main) stream” of philosophy, by its deliberate exclusion of African American philosophy, disqualifies it.

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