My guest this week is Erec Smith, professor of rhetoric at York College and co-founder of the nonprofit Free Black Thought. Erec came onto the show to talk about why an organization dedicated to fostering and promoting the true diversity of black thought is necessary. Now with a podcast, a journal, and the nonprofit itself, Erec is doing more than just criticizing the current state of mainstream-left race discourse. He’s helping to change it. As the inaugural contributor to the Journal of Free Black Thought, I’m happy to help.
I begin by asking Erec about how “free” Free Black Thought is. After all, sometimes when you say “black heterodoxy,” people hear “black conservatism.” He tells me about its mission, its journal and podcast, and its basis in classical liberalism. Erec’s opposition to DEI comes from experience. For a time, he served as a college diversity officer, and he saw things there he couldn’t unsee. Affirmative action and DEI aren’t viable ways to get black students up to par. Showing young people how to lay claim to their agency is key, and Erec wants to use Free Black Thought to do just that. And finally, I ask Erec just what “rhetoric” is, and the professor educates me.
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0:00 Is “black heterodoxy” a euphemism for “black conservatism”?
13:34 Classical liberalism’s role in Free Black Thought
15:07 Erec: I saw things while working as a diversity officer that I can’t unsee
22:47 Why the Democratic Party doesn’t like Erec
30:38 How Free Black Thought is fostering agency in the black community
36:16 Erec: The onus is on us, not affirmative action, to prepare black students for college
45:19 What is rhetoric, anyway?
Recorded November 13, 2023