A thought-provoking look at two competing approaches

The video shown on this page summarizes the different approaches and will help parents and citizens of Hollis and Brookline make better informed decisions for our schools.

The Competing Approaches:

Classical Approach – Martin Luther King

Critical Race Theory (CRT) Approach – Ibram X. Kendi

Written summary is below, click on timestamps in summary to watch parts of interest

Coleman Hughes – Columbia graduate named to Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 influencers impacting media and our culture. Mr Hughes explains the difference between these two competing visions.

SUMMARY: Critical Race Theory uses a poor research paradigm as one of its foundational principles. It is designed to separate people into different groups of oppressors and oppressed and create conflict between those groups. The solutions given by CRT proponents involve discriminating against people now and in the future for past wrongs which will only create more conflict and strife going forward.

Martin Luther King’s Classical vision unites, rather than divides. It seeks to acknowledge where our country has gone wrong. It appeals to the greater aspirations of our founding ideals as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and provides a framework for changing and adapting our society to more fully realize those founding ideals. MLKs vision is the superior vision and should be the focus of our public education system when it comes to matters of social justice and equality under the law.


Detailed summary of Video:
2:52 Classical / Humanist vision – Racism is the opposite of reason. Attributing meaning to the color of
someone’s skin is a logical error. To have a prejudice against someone or to discriminate against someone due to the color of their skin is to act out your own irrationality.

Note: In the video, Mr Hughes refers to Martin Luther King’s Classical Approach to social justice as the ‘Humanist’ vision and the Critical Race Theory Approach as the ‘Antiracist’ vision. His more recent commentary and larger societal debates have used the “Classical” and “CRT” terminology, thus the use of both in this summary.

4:23 CRT / Antiracist vision – Racism is based on the historical power relationship between oppressors and the oppressed in a particular country. In this vision, your skin color matters and has meaning based on history in your society.

Watch this short video now to understand oppressors vs oppressed and the basics behind Critical Theory (the foundational worldview behind antiracism, CRT, BLM, gender identity and so many things impacting our culture right now)

9:10 The difference between humanists and antiracists has nothing to do with political parties or economic beliefs. There are a wide variety of intellectuals and well known individuals from all parts of the political spectrum who support each vision. Many hold the humanist or antiracist vision as a kind of gut feeling without being able to tell you specifically what the principles are that uphold the vision. The assumptions of the visions are almost never articulated in our national race debate (which is a major part of the problem we see in our national discourse!)

11:15 Mr Hughes comes out in support of MLK’s Classical / Humanist Vision. He states “the antiracist vision is a disaster intellectually, politically, and ethically.” Regardless, the CRT / antiracist vision is ascendant. He gives examples from March 2019 (when this talk was presented) showing how this vision is taking over culture. We have seen an acceleration of this vision through the 2020 election, the rise of BLM, the riots of summer 2020, tearing down statues of American founders, and talk of systemic racism and white supremacy.

17:20 The classical / humanist vision was the vision that
got black people civil rights in this country. You can absolutely combat systemic racism, police
violence, and form policy to reduce injustices in black incarceration without buying the principles
of the CRT / antiracist vision. It was not a hindrance to Dr. King, nor should it be a hindrance to
us today.

18:37 An objection against the classical / humanist vision is that it is a naive attempt at colorblindness. Antiracists say that the history of America has not been colorblind for centuries so we should consider race now to make up for past wrongs. However, the very fact that we were not historically colorblind created the injustices that we are living with now. If we continue to make policy and laws based on the color of someone’s skin, it will simply perpetuate injustices, create a perpetual motion machine of grievances, and tear apart society. Gives examples of discrimination against Asian Americans and others.

24:43 To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, we currently live in a society where babies are born with a set of ready made grievances against other babies born the same day. The CRT / antiracist vision is a recipe for remaining in this condition. MLK’s classical / humanist vision is the only way out. (End of prepared comments. Rest of lecture was Q&A with audience)

Selection of Questions from Q&A portion:

25:22 Question: Mr Hughes asked about an article he wrote that cited a Pew Research poll indicating that 52% of Black Americans say that racial discrimination has had virtually no effect on their chances of success in life and 60% of Blacks with no college degree say the same. His primary question is why that kind of statistic is never mentioned in The New York Times or other prominent media as to the diversity of opinion and thought within the Black community (only one side being promoted).

30:58 Question: Are their positions taken by the CRT / antiracist side of the debate that you side with more than the positions taken by the humanist side? Answer: No. Gives examples of systemic racism but states that humanists can acknowledge and address those instances just as much and with more consistent evidence than claims made by the antiracist / CRT side.

48:59 Question: Will it be a good thing or a bad thing for the distinctions between the two visions to become talked about in public? Answer: It will be a good thing. Individuals define racism differently and have different solutions to race problems because one is a humanist and one is an antiracist. If they understood the differences in their worldview then more productive conversations could be had.

50:21 Because we are talking about two totally different visions, we have two totally different ethical programs. The CRT / antiracist vision is purposed towards redressing history towards a kind of utopian justice that never works because utopia never works and the humanist vision is purposed towards a kind of justice that is within the scope of human power. The CRT / antiracist vision tries to balance the scales of history by having living people to pay the bill of injustice created by dead people. The classical / humanist vision seeks to work within the system and reform the system so that such injustices do not continue going forward.

53:59 Question about systemic racism. Answer: What you generally get are individuals citing studies that hold many demographic variables constant (compare 30 year old black males with 2 parents to 30 year old white males with 2 parents and if there is some disparate outcome then that is systemic racism). “THAT PARADIGM IS FUNDAMENTALLY MISGUIDED.” Citing many Thomas Sowell books, Hughes states that evidence shows that disparity is the norm throughout history.

Look at wikipedia household income data by ethnic group:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income


You will see that 9 of the top 10 household income groups in America are not white. Nigerian American and Ghanaian American households average more in income than the average white American household. How is America systemically racist and white supremacist if these things are true? Why isn’t this kind of data presented in our media?

Mr Hughes gives an example of Russian Americans making far more money than French Americans yet both are largely white. Disparate outcomes happen even in the absence of systemic racism. There are many things that can impact disparate outcomes. The CRT / antiracist vision tends to use the poor research paradigm for many of its arguments in this regard.

CONCLUSION: Critical Race Theory uses a poor research paradigm as one of its foundational principles. It is designed to separate people into different groups of oppressors and oppressed and create conflict between those groups. The solutions given by CRT proponents involve discriminating against people now and in the future for past wrongs which will only create more
conflict and strife going forward.

Martin Luther King’s Classical vision unites, rather than divides. It seeks to acknowledge where our country has gone wrong. It appeals to the greater aspirations of our founding ideals as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and provides a framework for changing and adapting our society to more fully realize those founding ideals. MLKs vision is the superior vision and should be the focus of our public education system when it comes to matters of social justice and equality under the law.


Photo credit: Kevin Jiang via https://www.city-journal.org/contributor/coleman-hughes_1335


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