During the age of slavery, then the era of Jim Crow segregation, when whites separated themselves from blacks, they needed a black individual to tell them what black people thought, desired, needed, etc. (How else were they going to find out?) Often that person was the black community’s minister; later writers served that purpose, from Richard Wright to Ralph Ellison to James Baldwin. I personally think in the post-Civil Rights period a black person is wasting his (or her) time, the preciously few years of their lives, by devoting their energy—-as a “spokesman”—- to explaining so-called “black” things to white people. Whites can—-and should—-do their own homework. Read from the vast library of books on black American history and culture. Take a course, for God’s sake, on some aspect of black history. Then black individuals can be free to pursue the whole, vast universe that awaits their discovery (as it does for any white person), leaving behind emotionally draining racial discussions to investigate astrophysics, DNA sequencing, cosmology, Sanskrit, the Buddhadharma, mathematics, nano-technology, everything in this universe that remains such a mystery to us.
— Charles R. Johnson, in an interview with Monsters & Critics. “The M&C Interview 1: Charles Johnson” (May 28, 2007, 10:00 GMT), Monsters & Critics.