Salim Muwakkil–The Black Vernacular Intellectual

Mr. Muwakkil is able to represent the idealized version of a vernacular intellectual because of his aptitude  for never fully accepting one perspective as doctrine, instead using them to formulate his own outlook, his own personal intellectual doctrine. From the Black Panther Party to the Nation of Islam to his respected journalistic career, Mr. Muwakkil has shown a propensity for embracing the vernacular: “Vernacularity represents the moment of a significant, palimpsestic transformation. Vernacularity signals the discursive turning away from the accepted, dominant intellectual modality and vocabulary and the adoption of a new positioning and idiomatic language” (Farred, 11). His experiences enabled him to serve as an effective critic of racial issues, allowing him to rise up in national prominence and become one of the leading contemporary voices on minority relations. This ability to rise up from the masses and achieve national recognition in a way that lends credence to his intellectual insight falls well in line with Farred’s definition of vernacular intellectualism: “Vernacular intellectuals are, as the process of bringing them to public prominence demonstrates, a complex representation of the voices from below or the margins speaking at once to, within, and against the hegemonic order” (Farred, 10).

Farred, Grant. What’s My Name: Black Vernacular Intellectuals. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.


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