The Humanity of Race with Coleman Hughes

March 4, 2020

“There are very few people who have nothing of any value to say.” — Coleman Hughes

Today it’s great to have Coleman Hughes on the podcast. Coleman is an undergraduate philosophy major at Columbia University and a columnist for Quillette magazine. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, City Journal, and the Spectator.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Coleman’s initial plan in life to become a trombonist
  • Coleman’s early childhood education
  • Coleman’s transformation of his thinking about race
  • Coleman’s nuanced thoughts on intersectionality
  • Why we set up a norm against racial stereotyping
  • Is reverse-racism legitimate?
  • How the main message of the civil rights movement is often ignored today
  • Coleman’s humanistic perspective on race
  • Coleman’s criticism of the woke mindset
  • What makes sense about the woke mindset
  • Looking at things from the perspective of police officers
  • Understanding the causes of the underrepresentation of African Americans in gifted education programs
  • The moral imperative to enhance cognitive development of people in the bottom of society 
  • How racial categories can mislead us
  • How people underrate the value of local programs and community to solve problems of racism
  • Why policy shouldn’t look at racial disparities
  • The important distinction between culture and race
  • Why focusing on racial disparities (assuming that racial disparities are a proxy for well-being) is a mistake
  • Coleman’s vision for the good society

3 Responses to “The Humanity of Race with Coleman Hughes”

  1. Heather says:

    Kindly help me understand if I am missing some important points. I understood part of what Mr. Coleman was asserting, was along the lines of: If we Think their is a need for enhanced programs to help specific groups of children, we should just implement it across the board and all children will benefit.
    This has often been the strategy used. A beneficial program “available too all”, soon becomes popular with the parents of more advantaged kids. This was the case with French Emerson, in Canada. Learning a second language starting in JK was shown to benefit children’s overall learning and was introduced to public schools so that anyone can attend, in theory. In actuality it turns into a highly sot after program with not enough space for everyone. The middle class parents tend to fight harder to get their children a space in the program, showing up years in advance to try and secure a spot for their children. Lower income children often have trouble thriving in French Emersion as do new Canadians and children with learning disabilities. These children are under represented in the program. What’s even more problematic is that, the program gets more funding then the core English only program. What developed were two steams of learning. The mostly white, more affluent children who are born into English as a first language households fill the French Emersion classes. In the same building, children in the English only classes are getting a lower funded and less rigorous education. The English only classes end up with the majority of the differently abled learners, the least advantaged, the learners new to English and the children with little to no extra support for learning at home.
    Parents who have to do things such as: shift work, work multiple jobs, parents with physical or language barriers, often do not have the resources to advocate for their children’s educational advantages. Often they have not got the time or expertise to help their children with homework.
    My early education was lacking because I had ADHD and was difficult to teach. I relied on the school to teach my daughter what I don’t know, such as spelling and math. My input would have been unhelpful. It was not a lazy or “culturally” significant choice, I was simply making the wisest decision with the resources I had available.
    If a school system is not equipped to give more attention to children who need extra attention, it will not be an equal opportunity setting and the disadvantaged children will lag further behind their peers.
    I believe Sesame Street has faced the same dilemma. Because it was available to all households with a TV in the 70’s, initially it did help most children with acquiring more numeracy and literacy by the time they reached JK; but it helped privileged children more than less privileged. The more privileged children were watching it with their parents, who were able to spare the time to do so. The parents who watched the show with their children reinforced the information on the screen which increased the retention of the information. Often the children the show was geared towards got the least from it. What disadvantaged children did gain from the show is a big step forward and it was a positive, progressive project to undertake. When trying to reach some sort of social equality of advantage, it seems counterintuitive to hand the advantaged groups as much of the resources as the disadvantaged groups.

  2. Jon says:

    I don’t think you’re missing points, Heather, and I am shocked that the education piece is the only piece you identified as problematic. This episode, on this podcast, troubled me. The guest seems to have many issues with a lack of “scientific research” on various topics, but included none of his own references to research. The vast majority (if not all) of his points were simply about what he *thinks*. This man’s ideas are harmful, and are not backed by any actual psychology or research. I typed out and deleted a list of specific critiques, but the specifics aren’t the point. I don’t understand how or why this episode is on this podcast.

    I do love the podcast as a whole. I appreciate it very much. But this episode…. I don’t get it. Most episodes make me feel like I am in graduate school again, and I love that. This episode felt like a Fox News or Ben Shapiro interview.

    • Scott Barry Kaufman says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way, Jon. By all means, write a critique of the episode. I am interested in multiple perspectives.

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