Amanda Gorman

There were days when a society’s philosophers were a scalpel. They cut open a people’s consciousness, exposed the nakedness of sacred thoughts, and introduced forbidden ideas. Emperors used to kill and banish philosophers. Causing people to think critically is a dangerous thing to those who thrive through maintaining oppressive power.

But we have become better humans. Or have we? Some countries still imprison and exile their philosophers. What the US does to neutralize its philosophers is make them celebrities. They are no longer scalpels. They are beautiful flowers. We ooh and aah and sing their praise. They are then caught in this place of diminishing the product of their rare minds and turning them to harmless thoughts. Inspiring but harmless.

So on the inauguration of the 46th US president we all watched the birthing of a young philosopher. Will she become the scalpel that her society needs or will all this elevation to pop-poet make a harmless golden calf out of her? Hopefully in the coming years as her knowledge grows, she will learn to cut deep into the darkest spaces of the American psyche with every creative word, argument and theory that she is yet to pen. Why does Dr. Stella Nyanzi suddenly come to mind?

Post-thought: The best of America’s black women philosophers are also swallowed up in academia. Look them up in the field of History and Black Studies. Mind-blowing stuff. Sharp scalpels. Known only to academia. Perhaps they need a dose of that celebrity treatment. Just enough to give their works the needed exposure. Amanda Gorman is young and has many long nights of building that thinking muscle before she gets to their level, but no doubt, the young poet is a philosopher in the making.

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