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A great philosopher once said: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Philosophers are lovers of knowledge. My love of knowledge began when I was a kid growing up in New York City’s Queensbridge Housing Project, 6 blocks, 96 Buildings nestled beneath the 59th Street Bridge up against the East River with mesmerizing views of NYC. In this iconic hip hop neighborhood, I watched as DJ Marley Marl and the Juice Crew put Queens in the hip hop mix. I also watched the neighborhood’s poor righteous teachers (The Five Percenters) school us young heads on the importance of having knowledge of self, the world, and our relationship to the world. In our hood, hip hop was everywhere! It was in the DJing, the rapping, the b-boys and b-girls, the graffiti, and in the knowledge.

My love of knowledge has taken me on a wonderful life journey from Queensbridge to the Ivory Tower and around the world. I am a professor of philosophy. My scholarship and teaching are guided by two concerns: (1) to contemplate abiding philosophical problems in ways that are informed by knowledge of the black experience; (2) to draw on aspects of this experience, such as hip hop, to introduce my students to these problems and to transform the way we think about philosophy and about the challenges posed by the legacy of black chattel slavery in the Americas, Jim Crow segregation in the United States, and the denigration of black humanity since the Enlightenment.

The most important lesson I have learned about philosophy over the years is that it is a very powerful weapon. My life has been devoted to using this weapon to empower my students with knowledge of self, the world, and our relationship to it. 

Peace, respect, and knowledge,

Dr. Derrick Darby

University of Michigan
Department of Philosophy
2215 Angell Hall
435 South State Street
My office location 2303 Mason Hall
Ann Arbor, Michigan – 48109-1003


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