Race and State: Coleman Hughes’ Perspective

Hughes, a race, ethics, and public policy writer and podcaster, acknowledges that humanity may never fully eradicate the racial tribal instinct or racism itself. Nevertheless, he argues that colorblindness is the guiding principle that should inform decision-making. In his upcoming book, The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America, Hughes advocates for a return to the original goals of the American civil rights movement, suggesting that the nation’s departure from the colorblind ideal has led to a climate of fear and resentment. Hughes has faced backlash for his views, such as his recent TED talk being deemed “hurtful” by some audience members. He feels that TED deliberately downplayed the online release of his presentation as a result. Hughes believes that TED, like other organizations, is struggling to balance the values of free speech and diverse viewpoints with the push for censorship of views that are perceived as hurtful.

Speaking about the case for colorblindness, Hughes emphasizes the need for the state to minimize racial tribalism and discrimination. He argues that the U.S. has historically been a melting pot that allows people of all races and backgrounds to define themselves as Americans. Hughes acknowledges that the colorblind ideal may be unattainable but views it as a guiding principle for public policy and personal decision-making. He highlights the embrace of critical race theory in the 1970s as a significant departure from the colorblind approach, advocating instead for socioeconomic factors as a more accurate indicator of disadvantage.

In terms of government’s role, Hughes is not aligned with any specific theory but shows appreciation for the concept of state capacity libertarianism, which recognizes the value of markets but also emphasizes the need for a functional state capable of addressing societal challenges effectively. Hughes experienced challenges with TED when he was invited to talk about colorblindness. The talk faced backlash from certain audience members, and the subsequent release of the video was subject to unusual conditions, resulting in far fewer views than other TEDx talks. Hughes believes that this situation reflects the struggle many organizations face in balancing the values of free speech and viewpoint diversity with a faction that supports censorship in response to views deemed hurtful.