How to Think Philosophy About Black Identity


How to Think Philosophy About Black Identity



In the face of the tremendous violence of the last few days, in an election season like the current one, and with movements like Black Lives Matters, America and the world are focused on issues related to the African-American experience. But what happens when ask about the deeper foundations of what it means to be black? On this episode of Why? We are going to focus on these questions and Africana philosophy, the new branch of philosophy that explores the experiences and concerns people of African descent.

This episode begins with a discussion about where Black thought fits into philosophy and then expands into a general discussion of Black identity. Tommie Shelby is the Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is the author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity and the forthcoming book, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent and Reform. His website can be found at

The text of this episode’s monologue can be found here at our blog, PQED.


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Institute for Philosophy in Public Life



How to Think Philosophy About Black Identity