DePaul professor takes stand against fellow black American's attempts to 'stymie hopes'
DePaul Professor Jason Hill uses his words to fight his battles, so when he read the words of another black American denigrating the United States, he knew he had to take a stand.
In his book "Between the World and Me," Ta-Nehisi Coates offers an account of life in the United States, warning his son of the racism he claims is part of the American culture and portraying the American dream in a dismal light.
Given the recent events fueled by racism and inequality, Coates' argument might seem easy to get behind, but Hill feels differently.
“I write as a conservative liberal Democrat and a patriot and as an immigrant from Jamaica,” Hill told Chicago City Wire about his article in Commentary magazine. “After reading Mr. Coates' book, I was deeply disturbed by the appalling picture of the United States that he painted. It was one that I did not recognize in my 32 years of living in this great nation.”
Born and raised in Jamaica, Hill emigrated to the United States as a young man.
"I left Jamaica in 1985 at the age of 20 for Atlanta to pursue a college education and to ultimately become a writer and academic philosopher," Hill said.
Hill earned his doctorate from Purdue University, specializing in ethics, social and political philosophy, cosmopolitanism, philosophical psychology, philosophy of education and race theory.
“I found the attack on the concept of the American dream made by Coates to be destructive of a constitutive feature of the very core identity of America,” Hill said. “If you attack the concept of the American dream, assert that it is the fabricated nefarious construct of white racists who have used it exploit blacks, and that it is predicated on a specious hope that blacks should reject, then you, in essence, have stymied the hopes and aspirations of countless immigrants and Americans from all walks of lives with an aspirational identity – those who want to make something substantial of their lives.”
Hill suggested that the book has not had the effect Hill feared and that his article has been a powerful tool that has brought unity out of the situation.
“I have received over 100 letters from people telling me that they feel proud to be an American after having read my article and that I have restored faith and confidence in their country,” Hill said. “My article offers a rejoinder to Coates' doomsday picture of race relations in America.”
Hill said he is optimistic about the future of the country.
“I believe, actually, that we have overcome as black people in this country, and that the article has given people a sense of the nobility that is still part of the essence of this great country, which has always been a place of regeneration, renewal, hope and self-examination,” Hill said. “As my friend, the philosopher Naomi Zack writes, ‘The United States is not at this time a white supremacist society because it does not have an official ideology of the superiority of the white race, and there are no laws explicitly preferring whites or exclusionary or punitive of non-whites simply on the grounds of race – period.'"