To the Athletes, Rappers, Bloggers and Other Entertainers Who All Say It's Okay
TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- One of my favorite books is The Crisis of the Intellectual Negro by Harold Cruse. I discovered this book while attending a class as a political science major at Florida A&M University. We studied it for an entire semester and the class so inspired me that in 1998, I attended a conference held in Harold Cruse’s honor at the University of Michigan. There, I presented a paper advocating the use of a strategic planning model to address the current status of black America. My panel of three was the only session Cruse sat in on during the whole two day conference, and in response to my writing and that of another writer he spoke directly to us. It wasn’t that my paper was all that profound, but he knew from my writing that I was properly influenced by his ideas.
Cruse’s text illustrates the crisis that black America faced during the first half of the twentieth century. Cruse defined it as a crisis of identity. The stereotype is that black people are unified and that we stick together. That idea probably comes from our strong response to oppression during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s. In any case, what Cruse shows instead is how difficult it is for black Americans to relate to each other and to identify with a particular culture. All you have to do is look at the writings of Cruse, W.E.B. Dubois, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, and E. Franklin Frazier to see the contrast in ideas and the divide even then between the haves and have-nots.