The Politics of Philosophy in a Southern University

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Author: Nathaniel Naomi Simmons-Thorne | Title: The Politics of Philosophy in a Southern University | Excerpt of A Brief Thought of the 21st Century: Vol. 1. | April, 2019. | University Media

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“On Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 I sat isolated in a single-study room deep in the bowels of my university library. I often think about the way in which this physical structure of white supremacy and epistemological violence is situated to function as the state’s penultimate center of learning and knowledge. Carefully named in tribute to the famed proslavery pamphleteer and philosopher Thomas Cooper, it is in the face of such threats nonetheless, where I often come to do my work. That day, I sat with a copy of Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider within arm’s reach, mouth agape, as research into the thought of my department chair led me to uncover his use of philosophy as a tool for rationalizing public injustices. A philosophy steeped in Christian- right, prolife, gender essentialism. I, a Black, queer, non- binary/transfeminine undergraduate student, knew I had to drop the pretense despite my yearning that any amount of feigned professionalism or promised political-neutrality could protect me, much less nurture me, in that department as it were. I felt a single emotion rise up as a single force began to push down. Anger and silence—as they often travel in pairs.”

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