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The Michael Shermer Show

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Watch or listen here or via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, and TuneIn.

EPISODE # 158

Jason D. Hill — We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to The American People

We Have Overcome: An Immigrants Letter to the American People (book cover)

A black immigrant’s eloquent appreciation of the American Dream, and why his adopted nation remains the most noble experiment in enabling the pursuit of happiness. It has been more than 50 years since the Civil Rights Act enshrined equality under the law for all Americans. Since that time, America has enjoyed an era of unprecedented prosperity, domestic and international peace, and technological advancement. It’s almost as if removing the shackles of enforced racial discrimination has liberated Americans of all races and ethnicities to become their better selves, and to work toward common goals in ways that our ancestors would have envied.

But the dominant narrative, repeated in the media and from the angry mouths of politicians and activists, is the exact opposite of the reality. They paint a portrait of an America rife with racial and ethnic division, where minorities are mired in a poverty worse than slavery, and white people stand at the top of an unfairly stacked pyramid of privilege. Jason D. Hill corrects the narrative in this powerfully eloquent book. Dr. Hill came to this country at the age of 20 from Jamaica and, rather than being faced with intractable racial bigotry, Hill found a land of bountiful opportunity — a place where he could get a college education, earn a doctorate in philosophy, and eventually become a tenured professor at a top university, an internationally recognized scholar, and the author of several respected books in his field.

Throughout his experiences, it wasn’t a racist establishment that sought to keep him down. Instead, Hill recounts, he faced constant naysaying from so-called liberals of all races. His academic colleagues did not celebrate the success of a black immigrant but chose to denigrate them because this particular black immigrant did not embrace their ideology of victimization.

Jason D. Hill is a professor of philosophy and Honors Distinguished Faculty at DePaul University in Chicago. He is the author of Becoming a Cosmopolitan: What it Means to be a Human Being in the New Millennium; Beyond Blood Identities: Posthumanity in the Twenty-First Century; We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People. His next book is What Do White Americans Owe Black People: Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression. He specializes in ethics, politics, foreign policy, and moral psychology.

Shermer and Hill discuss:

  • President Lyndon Johnson’s famous observation:

    “Freedom is not enough. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him; bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”

  • From Jamaica to Georgia: what role did family and luck have?
  • What has been the response to his success story from your liberal colleagues?
  • political correctness and cancel culture,
  • black families and fatherless homes,
  • white guilt and the exploitation of it by black activists,
  • BLM and the antiracism movement,
  • race fatigue,
  • reparations: what do white Americans owe black people?
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI),
  • why racism is not the cause of black-white gaps in achievement, education, and income, and
  • income inequality: how much is too much? Where do you draw the line?

The problem captured in two quotations:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” —Ibram X. Kendi

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