Compendium of Free Black Thought

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= directory of non-identitarian black voices

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"In a now-deleted Tweet from May 22, 2020, Nikole Hannah-Jones (@nhannahjones) opined, “There is a difference between being politically black and being racially black.” The implication seems to be that you can have dark skin, textured hair, and perhaps even some “culturally black” traits regarding tastes in food, music, and ways of moving through the world. But unless you hold the “correct” political beliefs and values, you are not authentically black.

Hannah-Jones’ Tweet is valuable as a clear example of the sort of policing of the boundaries of black identity that is projected constantly but subtly by elite institutions, including news and entertainment media, corporate virtue-signaling, academic scholarship, and “Black Twitter.” You know beforehand what certain celebrated columnists and sought-after commentators are going to say on a given topic. The thrust of their message is unequivocal: there is a single authentic black narrative, black perspective, and black position on every issue that matters.

We recognize the value of the contributions of black authors and creators in what might be called the mainstream: these are the elites who write for the New York Times, constitute the familiar faces on CNN, and produce the books pushed by Amazon and adapted by HBO. But we seek here to offer an alternative to the mainstream elite. The Compendium is our attempt to create an index of a much wider range of voices. It consists of a bibliography of books, articles in academic journals, newspapers, online magazines, and social media, arranged by topic. The authors include black socialists and libertarians, conservatives and liberals, and even “race abolitionists” who disavow the very concept of race.

As editors of this collection, we have no particular politics or agenda to push, beyond the maxim, articulated beautifully by Chloe Valdary, that we should "treat people like human beings, not political abstractions." Thus, you will discover in our lists black Marxists rubbing shoulders with black Trump supporters: we have no desire to tell you who is “blacker” or whom to prefer.

It’s worth noting that FBT features heterodox black thinkers from the Anglophone world, for now mainly the USA and the UK. But we hope to diversify our geographic representation soon. We’ve also made all sorts of barely defensible judgments about who qualifies as heterodox, or outside of the mainstream. We are very much just getting started with this project, and our Compendium is far from complete or settled. We welcome your input regarding our choices and about heterodox books, articles, blogs, podcasts, and Twitter pages that we may have missed, including your own work. We'll be glad to know about it. You can email us at [email protected] or send a message through the web:

Finally, please feel free to copy the Compendium, in whole or in part, and use it in your own research, teaching, or discussion group. Just be sure to check back frequently for updates!"


Media Sources

"We close this introduction with a selection of Tweets from free black thinkers whose perspectives are valuable correctives to the politics of authenticity represented by the Tweet from Nikole Hannah-Jones with which we opened this Introduction. We hope you will enjoy, and we invite you to free your mind with Free Black Thought.

Having the acceptable view on social issues doesn’t innately make you a better person, it may only indicate how easily influenced you are.

—Ayishat Akanbi:

The problem with the idea that behaviours and beliefs make you ‘less black’, is you end up buying into any idea, so long as you fit in.


This is me. I’m often attacked and torn down, because my skin colour doesn’t ‘match’ my views, but that’s what comes with speaking your mind. But just know, I won’t let anyone impose their stereotypes on me, and to do so is not only discriminatory, but completely misguided.

—Dominique Samuels:

The idea that you should see me, note my skin color, and then make a whole host of assumptions about my lived experiences is absurd, but entire institutions are now fully committed to exercising this incredibly dehumanizing practice in the name of my liberation.

       —Chloe Valdary:

Deferring to the easiest Black voices is another way of abdicating the responsibility to do the thinking yourselves. It’s still patronising af - we are worthy of rigour.

—Annie Olaloku-Teriba:

Yep one of the reasons why I hate it when white people say their job is only to listen and never question ideas from black voices. I mean if you that you are pretty much in a cult. THINK FOR YOURSELF

—Nate Steele:


  1. 1776 Unites.
  2. Ayishat Akanbi (Stylist and writer.)
  3. Brittany Talissa King (Freelance writer and journalist.)
  4. Chloe Valdary (Founder, Theory of Enchantment.)
  5. Coleman Huges (Fellow, Manhattan Institute.)
  6. Glenn Loury (Professor of Economics, Brown University.)
  7. Inaya Folarin Iman (Founder, Equiano Project.)
  8. John McWhorter (Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University.)
  9. Kmele Foster (Lead Producer, Freethink.)
  10. Thomas Chatterton Williams (Writer.)

Podcasts/YouTube Channels

  1. Brittany Talissa King (Freelance writer and journalist.) #AmericanShade with Brittany King.
  2. Coleman Hughes (Fellow, Manhattan Institute). Conversations with Coleman.
  3. Glenn Loury (Professor of Economics, Brown University.) The Glenn Show. ;
  4. John R. Wood, Jr. (National Ambassador, Braver Angels.) Braver Angels Podcast.
  5. Kmele Foster (Lead Producer, Freethink.) The Fifth Column.