About Free Black Thought
Black thought varies as widely as black individuals.
There are black conservatives and liberals, socialists and free-marketeers, traditionalists and radicals, theists and atheists, everything in between, and more besides. FREE BLACK THOUGHT seeks to represent the rich diversity of black thought beyond the relatively narrow spectrum of views promoted by mainstream outlets as defining "the black perspective." You'll find the thinkers represented here to be frequently non-conforming, often provocative, sometimes contrarian, but always enriching.
Here, we uplift those black voices that are harder to hear against the background of media noise but whose message is just as or even more vital.
This site is a resource for those who are curious about those black voices.
We have compiled a searchable, topically arranged bibliography of black thinkers outside the mainstream—a Compendium of FBT—including books, published essays, journal articles, and social media accounts. We also Tweet regularly, publish essays in our Journal of FBT, host an FBT YouTube channel, and maintain lists of essential podcasters/YouTubers and organizations we find important or merely interesting. If you’d like to share a resource with us, contact us and we’ll add it. Free your mind with FREE BLACK THOUGHT.
"Listen to black voices" is a demand heard constantly these days.
But you would hardly guess from the black voices that are favored in mainstream venues—pushed by Amazon or adapted by HBO—just how wide the range of black thinking on matters of politics, society, and culture really is. We have nothing against these mainstream perspectives: indeed, they are crucial to the ongoing discussion about all the issues that matter to us. But we do not seek to represent them here. You know where to find them: just turn on CNN or open the New York Times.
We are a small group of scholars, technologists, parents, and above all American citizens determined to amplify vital black voices that are rarely heard on mainstream platforms.
As citizens, we pursue no political agenda other than a commitment to free speech, civil rights, and a conviction that a pluralistic society committed to liberal democracy is nourished by the entire spectrum of black thinking on matters of politics, society, and culture.
As parents, we are troubled that our children, black and non-black alike, are coming of age at a time when K-12 schools and elite institutions such as academia, major media companies, and corporations appear committed to enforcing narrow and tendentious standards of black racial authenticity in thought and behavior. We hope our efforts inspire our children to see their blackness as a space not of constrained identity but of endless possibility.
As scholars and technologists, some of us currently serve in organizations that might look unkindly upon our efforts to celebrate black diversity. We regret that some of us must therefore for the time being remain anonymous.
There isn't a narrative, one black narrative—there's 40 million.
[T]he United States is in actuality not a nation of black people and white people. It is a nation of multicolored people. There are white Americans so to speak and black Americans. But any fool can see that the white people are not really white, and that the black people are not black. They are all interrelated one way or another.
Quite simply, Murray stood for complexity, and the black experience was—and is, and always will be—complex. What he was saying is that there is no prescription for being black, no program to conform to, despite what groups were calling for from their various corners.
Michael Bowen is a Business Intelligence professional and Data Engineer, a past contributor to NPR, Cafe Utne, Young Republicans and TV One, and an essayist at Stoic Observations. He tweets here.
Dave Gilbert is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who currently manages a team of ethnographers, social scientists, and user experience researchers at a large search engine company. A former college professor of communication, Dave is interested in the intersection of technology, culture, and identity. He tweets here.
Dr. Tabia Lee, EdD, a founding member of Free Black Thought, has contributed to the design, implementation, and evaluation of numerous educational and professional development programs. Her commitment to teacher education and pedagogical design is grounded in her experience as a lifelong educator and a National Board Certified English, Civics, and Social Studies teacher in urban American public middle schools. Dr. Lee prepares K-12 and higher education faculty to work with diverse students by focusing on better understanding the pedagogical and curricular implications of ideology-in-practice. Her Race Ideologies Resource Site, featuring interactive dialogical activities and resources for exploring race ideologies that may be used by DEI professionals, faculty, staff, and students, may be found here. Learn more about Dr. Lee at http://www.drtlee.com
Jason Littlefield brings two decades of experience as an educator to his role as Executive Director of EmpowerED Pathways and as designer of Compassionate Humanism, a humanity-centered framework for life, leadership, and learning. He tweets here.
Jake Mackey is Associate Professor of Classics at Occidental College, where he teaches Greek and Latin languages and literatures and their transformative reception by African-American writers. He is faculty advisor for the student Persuasion club, which provides a space for the free exchange of ideas on campus. He grew up between Austin, TX, and a small village in Kerala, in south India. The darker side of his experience in India—growing up in a cult—is captured in this film. He is planning a memoir about the brighter side. He is the author of Belief and Cult: Rethinking Roman Religion (Princeton University Press, 2022). He tweets here.
Connie Morgan is a Christian, wife, mother and UX Researcher located in the Pacific Northwest. Connie has a background in economics and public relations and has worked in higher ed and marketing. She served five years in the United States military as a military intelligence officer. Her main research and writing interests are the family, education, and personal liberty generally. She tweets here.
Erec Smith is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric at York College of Pennsylvania. Although he has eclectic scholarly interests, Smith’s primary work focuses on the rhetorics of anti-racist activism, theory, and pedagogy. He is the president of the Foundation for Free Black Thought. Smith’s recent books include A Critique of Anti-Racism in Rhetoric and Composition: The Semblance of Empowerment (2020) and The Lure of Disempowerment: Reclaiming Agency in the Age of CRT (2022). He tweets here.
Glenn C. Loury is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University. As an academic economist, Professor Loury has published mainly in the areas of applied microeconomic theory, game theory, industrial organization, natural resource economics, and the economics of race and inequality. As a prominent social critic and public intellectual, writing mainly on the themes of racial inequality and social policy, Professor Loury has published over 200 essays and reviews in journals of public affairs in the U.S. and abroad. Professor Loury’s books include One by One, From the Inside Out: Essays and Reviews on Race and Responsibility in America (The Free Press, 1995); The Anatomy of Racial Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2002, reissued in 2021 with a new preface); Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy: Comparing the US and the UK (ed., with Tariq Modood and Steven M. Teles, Cambridge University Press, 2005); and Race, Incarceration and American Values (M.I.T. Press, 2008). Glenn’s first essay for the Journal of Free Black Thought was our inaugural essay.
John McWhorter is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He teaches linguistics at Columbia University and hosts the language podcast Lexicon Valley.
He is the author of more than 20 books and writes a weekly column for The New York Times.