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I read Hughes' article set it aside and read again then wrote out my thoughts. A point first:

1) Hughes' critique is of Dr. Kendi and both of his books "Stamped", which I referenced above, and "How to Be an Anti-Racist", which I have not read so if you would like to critique my critique of Hughes' critique, there are items I ignore because they reference ideas I know are not from Kendi's book that I have read.

I recommended the book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America in my earlier post because it paints a clear picture how racism is alive in well in America in 2019, both in overt, covert, and systemic forms.

Hughes' critique shows errors Kendi made, and discredits unsubstantiated claims Kendi made. Yet in the end Stamped from the Beginning, and its central tenets are still standing.

Hughes' critique of Kendi suffers from some of the same issues he charges Kendi with. Hughes cherry picks facts and claims from Kendi's work to critique, and takes a broad brush to make some unsubstantiated claims of his own. Unfortunately this gives Hughes' work the air of pseudo-intellectualism.

In Stamped from the Beginning, Kendi weaves the ideas of racism, anti-racism, and other forms throughout his book as major ideas in America's past and present. Those include assimilation, segregation, "uplift-suasion" (the notion that black people could gain equality in the eyes of white people by being model minorities), and others. As core themes of the book Hughes neglects to mention them or in some cases discusses them in isolation from each other and not in reference to Kendi's core idea of racism/anti-racism.

For example, when countering Kendi's claim that "capitalism is racist" Hughes cites Plessy v. Ferguson

The most famous is the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case, when a profit-hungry railroad company––upset that legally mandated segregation meant adding costly train cars––teamed up with a civil rights group to challenge racial segregation.

Here, Hughes conflates anti-segregation with anti-racist. This is an unfair treatment of a core idea of Kendi's work. It belies either ignorance or intellectual dishonesty on the part of Hughes. One of the biggest take aways from Kendi's history is that one could be against segregation, slavery, or other ideas we associate with racism, and still be racist.

The latter chapters of Stamped from the Beginning show just how the language we hear today around "law and order" and other political slogans emerged from Richard Nixon knowing exactly how to appeal to racist voters without saying the n-word. The lineage is traced from Nixon, to Reagan, Bush I, and up to Clinton (could go further, but I have a few chapters yet to finish).

So if you are considering Stamped from the Beginning, I don't see Hughes' critique as one worth keeping you away from it.




What is the proper interpretation of “capitalism is racist?” My first inclination, as a brown person, is that this notion is incredibly problematic. (See: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyssaayres/2014/10/28/banglade...). Capitalism is the great equalizer. It’s why former colonies like Singapore are now richer than their former colonizers.

The great crime of America is excluding African Americans from the benefits of capitalism by systematically eliminating their ability to build and protect capital, businesses, etc.

What am I missing?




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