The Forum | Academic Freedom

On This Date in Campus Freedom: Erec Smith Hero of Intellectual Freedom

October 20, 2023 by ACTA

On March 19, 2019, York College of Pennsylvania Professor Erec Smith critiqued a keynote address delivered related to his discipline, Rhetoric and Composition. He argued that the talk was a kind of performative politics that wouldn’t bring about real change and he challenged the author’s claim that teaching standardized English to students of color is an act of white supremacy. While the response was swift and isolating, Professor Smith did not back down. Instead, he refocused his efforts, writing his book A Critique of Anti-Racism in Rhetoric and Composition: The Semblance of Empowerment which dissects the over-reliance of anti-racist initiatives on identity politics and victimization and offers instead an alternative path based on empowerment theory. He continues to support free expression and intellectual diversity through his work and writing. He is also one of the co-founders of Free Black Thought, a website and journal dedicated to spotlighting viewpoint diversity among black intellectuals. Listen to his remarks upon acceptance of Hero of Intellectual Freedom Award, Turning Haters into Motivators here.


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