Encountering Thomas Sowell

Thomas Chatterton Williams in Law & Liberty:

The first time I heard the name Thomas Sowell was during that bitterly partisan—though in retrospect, comparatively tame—transition period from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. My mother’s younger sister, a gun-owning, born-again evangelical Christian and staunchly Republican voter from Southern California had by then become an active and vocal Facebook user. In those days, I was half a decade out of undergrad, living in New York City, making my first forays into the world of professional opinion-having. I felt my first (and, it would turn out, my last) stirrings of political romanticism in my exuberance over the candidacy and election of the first black president. Suffice it to say we locked digital horns on a regular basis. “It’s not about color for me,” my aunt said while railing against Obama. “For example, I love Thomas Sowell.”

To that side of my extended family, I became the stereotype of a coastal liberal, writing for the New York Times and wholly out of touch with the real America. In fact, I’ve always prided and defined myself as an anti-tribal thinker, and sometime contrarian, working firmly within a left-of-center black tradition—a tradition populated by brave and brilliant minds from Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray to Harold Cruse, Stanley Crouch, Orlando Patterson, at times even Zadie Smith and James Baldwin.

More here.