The Racism Treadmill

In this essay, Coleman Hughes, a young black philosopher, argues for a more holistic approach to diagnosing the causes of disparities in outcomes between different racial groups. Hughes is currently studying philosophy at Columbia University, and he has been developing a framework for understanding and reconciling the competing visions of anti-racism versus humanism. Some of Coleman’s critique of Ta Nahesi Coates and Critical Race Theory are reminiscent of the views of Dr. Cornel West of Harvard University.

EXCERPT: “I submit that the Racism Treadmill, and the dogmas that motivate it, account for much of the progressophobia of the activist Left on the topic of race. The Treadmill shows itself in the way progressives appropriate the tragedies of history in order to summon rhetorical gravitas in the present. Carceral policy is not just bad, it’s the “New Jim Crow”; posting reaction GIFs on social media that portray black people is “digital blackface”; and, even though three separate analyses [article 1] [article 2] [article 3] have found no racial bias in police shootings, such shootings are said to be “reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching,” as a United Nations report put it. It seems as if every reduction in racist behavior is met with a commensurate expansion in our definition of the concept. Thus, racism has become a conserved quantity akin to mass or energy: transformable but irreducible.”