I was introduced to Thomas Sowell through a podcast discussion between Hunter Maats and Powerful Joe Rogan on The Joe Rogan Experience. Hunter began to explain the origins and characteristics of African American culture that totally blew my cranium, and somewhat affirmed some assumptions I had about culture and race.
Thomas Sowell is an economist who delved into social theory. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. He’s an African American conservative who was at one point in life a Marxist in his younger years.
Black Rednecks and White Liberals is a collection of essays in an attempt to dispel the misconceptions about race relations that in his words are “poisoning the country.” He does this by addressing both Liberal and Conservative viewpoints such as the impact of slavery on African-American culture and, race and intelligence. He routinely refutes common beliefs with a plethora of research and firsthand accounts, interpreting the cultural climate during the various milestones throughout African-American history.
Sowell asserts that African-American culture originates from Northern England, highlighting such traditions such as “Jumping the Broom” originating from poor communities in Britain, and connecting ebonics with white southerners. He then delves into how southerners in the antebellum south were seen as particularly inefficient at running businesses and were more inclined at living lives of leisure, consigning hard work over to the lower classes and slaves. Southerners were also seen as quick to anger, and personal slights often ended in a violent resolution.
In one of the essays that Sowell includes, he outlines the tense political circumstances around the question of slavery during the founding years of the United States as a nation. In 1794 the import of slaves was outlawed. Many of the founding fathers had inherited their slaves, and the majority of them were in opposition to slavery. It was legally difficult at the time to free slaves in certain areas in the north due to community concerns over the burden that freed slaves would burden localities financially. Some of the northern slave owners feared that it would be difficult to release their slaves into society and often thought that they lives that they had in captivity would be more humane that releasing them into a world that they were not prepared for. They would often send their slaves to school with their children to prepare them for the inevitable abolishment of slavery.
With regard to black education, Sowell dives into the void of history to demonstrate that black education standards were on the rise prior to the 1960’s. There was a cultural change within the school systems themselves that deviated from the core values of excellence that was originally instilled within them in their formative years. Sowell asks and answers many questions about the modern decline of black education and its impact on the black community.
What I won’t say is that if Sowell was my mother’s sister, he would literally be my Uncle Tom. Those on the far end of the left spectrum would have some difficulty digesting the material if they didn’t have an open mind. Sowell is blunt and to the point, and does not dance around the issues. You may not agree with some of his opinions about black culture such as his scathing stance on Hip-hop, but he does present inconvenient truths that should be discussed more widely amongst academics. While the title is a little misleading, he holds all sides to account, both liberal and conservative. . In this age of racial strife and politically correct divisions, it’s an enigma that Sowell’s writings have not been used to quell unrest and force introspection.
A provocative read indeed.