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Adam Coleman: Overcoming a ‘Poisonous’ Society of Victims and Saviors

Updated: Feb 7

“My search for black identity was something that I actually enjoyed, until I started noticing that there was a level of animosity that comes with it that’s being preached. It is a celebration of being black and also is a rejection of ‘white.’”

Adam Coleman is the founder of WrongSpeak Publishing and author of “Black Victim to Black Victor: Identifying the Ideologies, Behavioral Patterns, and Cultural Norms that Encourage a Victimhood Complex.”

“Human existence is filled with struggle. It’s just a matter of do you take that struggle and hold on to it as some sort of weapon to levy at the rest of society? Or do you use that struggle as a reason to overcome it?” says Coleman.

Coleman believes the American public education system has failed its students and that a policy of school choice is the solution. He says that growing up without a father made it especially challenging for him to cultivate an identity, and that single parenthood is devastating to the black community. Coleman says that family planning is of utmost importance in order to improve society.

“The home is the first government we should be worried about,” says Coleman. “The problem is that for a lot of people, it’s highly dysfunctional, and then they look elsewhere for the solution.”


Interview trailer:

Watch the full interview:



Jan Jekielek:

Adam Coleman, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Adam Coleman:

Thank you for having me.

Mr. Jekielek:

Adam, I’ve been reading your book, and I have to tell you, there are many, many places where I find myself thinking about some of my own childhood, although not in the exact same terms. This is a book that’s clearly not just for black Americans. I actually learned a lot here.

Mr. Coleman:


Mr. Jekielek:

Just tell me a little bit about the background of why you came up with this.

Mr. Coleman:

The book idea basically started after George Floyd. The concept of the book originally was just a way for me to talk about race, obviously, because it was during the 2020 riots and the discussion about race in America and what it’s like to be a black man in America as well. I just didn’t like the narratives that were coming out. Also, I didn’t like the narratives from people I generally agreed with, their approach to explaining things, and being completely dismissive about certain things.

The book was a way for me to express myself in a time where I felt like I couldn’t express myself. I was just a regular guy working an IT job and I didn’t even feel like I could go on social media and talk about it in a way that I really wanted to talk about it, which is a way of compassion ultimately. There was obviously frustration for me, but the way the book turned out was very compassionate and understanding, but being critical as well. I wanted to start writing the book years prior, because I wanted to leave a legacy for my son. That was really important for me.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s interesting that you focus on family, because it seems like family is really the bedrock of society. When you look at the various studies that have been done on families with a father and a mother in the household, basically kids tend to do really well. That’s across race, across social strata, across everything. This is the one thing that almost everybody agrees on, and you highlight this.

Mr. Coleman:

Yes. These are obvious statistics that I think a lot of people know. But often what happens is, especially from the political Right, they use numbers and stats, but there’s no human element to it. I wanted to use my story; growing up in a single parent home, what it was like to not be around my father, and how I felt inadequate as a man, because I didn’t grow up around a man. And then, I’m left to raise my son and teach him how to be what I wasn’t. All of that impacts so many people. Like you said, the book uses black Americans as a way to start the conversation, but we have so much more in common and it goes across race, and across cultures. Family is extremely important.

Mr. Jekielek:

Let’s talk a little bit about your upbringing. I’d love to hear more.

Mr. Coleman:

There are so many different places to start from, because my life has been all over the place. Before the age of 18, I lived in four states. We moved around a lot within those areas. I was homeless a couple times as a kid. One of the times we were staying with a family member, things weren’t working out, and we left. We were looking for a place to stay and going from hotel to hotel.

At one point, a woman who was basically a stranger had a trailer with a room and she let us stay there for about a month or so, if I remember correctly. So, there were a lot of struggles and that was the first time we were homeless. The second time we were homeless, we ended up staying at a homeless shelter, and my mother was left to basically do it by herself and take care of us.

I had my personal struggles as well as a kid that stemmed into my adulthood; depression, feeling inadequate, lacking self-esteem, just not fully believing in myself, and at times, taking that victim mentality along with me. I wondered how my life would have changed in a different direction if my father were there for me and what things did I actually miss out on.

A lot of those answers came later in my life with my son, because I didn’t want to be my father. I started to tap into what felt natural, and saw how beneficial I was for my son, and saw how much more well-adjusted he is compared to how I was.

Mr. Jekielek:

Why did you have to seek shelter in the ways you did?

Mr. Coleman:

The first time was because my mother and I didn’t get along with my aunt, who later on passed away. We just simply didn’t get along with her. My mother was going to school for nursing, and she would rather figure something else out than leave her kids in that environment, and I don’t blame her.

So, we were kind of left to our own devices. My father was always in a different state. My father was always married, just never to my mother. He paid child support and that was the extent of it. I would see him randomly throughout my life. I would get maybe one or two phone calls a year, if that. He was basically a stranger in my life, to be honest with you.

Mr. Jekielek:

Let me just read this quote you’re making me think of. You were talking about this victim mentality. You wrote, “Like many lost children,” and I wanted you to talk about what you mean by that, “I spent decades feeling sorry for myself and wearing victimhood for a societal warmth. Pity becomes the lost child’s currency, and we can never collect enough of it.” That struck me right in the heart. What do you mean here?

Mr. Coleman:

The concept of a lost child is related to me seeing the father as the purpose compass for the children, especially for boys. It’s incredibly important for men to have some sort of purpose. Without purpose, we’re lost. The father figure provides something a little bit different for their daughters as well, especially around relationships and things of that nature.

But for young men, we become lost without a purpose. We become lost without direction, and we grab hold of anything that we can, feeling like we’re heading in that right area, but we’re just guessing, and we’re lost. We need some guidance from someone who actually knows, and that’s what our father is supposed to be. I barely graduated high school not because I’m stupid, but because I just didn’t know what I was doing.

I struggled. I just struggled in almost every area of my life, and it just translated into my adulthood. I started pitying myself, because of all the failures and it looks like everybody else is doing much better than I am, and I’m wondering why is that the case.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s very interesting. We’re getting into this concept of victim mentality. It’s surprising how easily someone could get into that mindset. In the book you cover that this is something that is being encouraged in our society, and that this creates huge problems for people.

Mr. Coleman:

Right. It is being encouraged. It shows itself in different ways, depending on what topic. Even in politics, it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, there’s a little bit of victim mentality that is being preached. If you’re on the Left, you’re being told that there’s a system of oppression and it’s stopping you from excelling. On the Right, they tell you that the government is suppressing you, and maybe in some cases they’re right.

Actually, both sides are right to some degree, but I think it’s the exaggeration. Even if it’s true, what’s the solution? That’s part of the problem, because they don’t provide solutions. The purpose is to give you one, other than to put it onto somebody else, and that’s where the savior comes in. For the Right, Donald Trump is the savior of society. He’s going to help us, and they’re always going to be disappointed because he’s not. Nobody is, and that’s his whole point.

On the Left, they say everybody is the savior of the poor and disenfranchised and we have to be allies with them. Well, your ally is not going to help you either. In many cases, your ally is just using you to prop themselves up to take credit for things that they shouldn’t take credit for.

So, I just see a society of victims and saviors, and it’s this relationship that’s poisonous and generally benefits one side. Sometimes people with good intentions think that the savior approach is the right approach, and it isn’t.

Mr. Jekielek:

You say something pretty controversial, that if you’re a black American, you have already won. That’s absolutely not what we ever hear.

Mr. Coleman:

I say they’ve won in the greatest scheme of the world. Actually, the Americans are the 1 per cent of the world, to be honest with you. We have great opportunities here. Even for someone like myself, it was a struggle, but I feel like I found some success, and I think everybody has different measurements of success.

For me, success is sustainability, not having to rely on someone giving me a helping hand or anything like that. That’s an achievable mark for most people and especially black Americans in this country. I do believe that if black Americans want to uplift themselves, they’re more than capable of doing so.

Black Wall Street is a perfect example of economic success. Even during times of racist laws like Jim Crow, you had bus companies in the Jim Crow south that were the primary bus companies. You had black Americans who were being hired by other white Americans over everybody else to do skilled labor, and they were able to provide for their families.

You had all different types of economic means that were happening for black Americans. They weren’t all living in shacks in the deep south. For a lot of them, they owned property. They were farmers in agriculture. There was a ton of different ways that they were showing progress and success, and many of them migrated to different parts of the country. Hence, you had a lot of black Americans who had moved to Chicago for certain industry, and Los Angeles and other parts of California for other types of industries. Brooklyn, New York is another example.

There have been all different types of signs to show that when there are opportunities for black Americans to take advantage of, they’ve gone for it. They’ve picked up and traveled to different areas to take advantage of these things, and that shows to me that black Americans have a whole history of overcoming obstacles and looking for success elsewhere.

Let’s say they’re right, that there is systemic oppression and all these things. But we should be able to do things despite that. Or let’s say that they’re right, there is systemic oppression. It doesn’t help if you have multiple children with multiple women and your family isn’t intact.

If you look at the economics of things, and look at household income, 70 per cent of children are growing up in single parent homes, or I should say they’re being born in into single parent homes. Two incomes are better than one. There’s your math right there. I think that helps a lot for black Americans.

There are so many different ways that we can actually improve by doing things on our own and taking control of what we can actually take control of. There’s a so much big picture, idealistic things that we’re being told to reach up for and grab a hold of. It’s just unrealistic when we can easily say that proper family planning is half of the solution to success in life.

Anybody can do that. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is. To kind of go back to what you were originally saying, why are we the 1 per cent? We’re the 1 per cent because we have far more opportunities in America than just about any other country, including other western countries as well. And so, it’s just a matter of do you believe that you can achieve those things or not.

Mr. Jekielek:

Some people have much better opportunities. This is what’s always said, right? Some people are just offered everything. Everything is easy, and everything is offered on a silver platter. What do you mean everyone has this great 1 per cent opportunity?

Mr. Coleman:

Everybody has a struggle. Even wealthy people have a struggle. There are wealthy people who overdose on drugs because they have a struggle. Human existence is filled with struggle. It’s just a matter of do you take that struggle and hold onto it as some sort of weapon to levy at the rest of society, or do you use that struggle as a reason to overcome it?

For me, all those things I was saying that I went through in my childhood, I used those things to look how far I’ve come, instead of saying look what was done to me. We need to preach more victorhood. If we’re talking about black Americans, historically speaking, look what we were able to overcome. Look at all the achievements that we were able to move past.

That’s something that’s worth celebrating. It doesn’t mean that’s it. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad things, and there aren’t things that we should fight for. You’ll never have a perfect society. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fight for those things. But to pretend that things are exactly the same, and nothing has ever changed, that’s what comes from a lot of the radical Left activists. They assimilate any sort of atrocity, any sort of bad outcome as being the same as what has happened long ago.

There are dishonest people, and many times there are people who are just trying to take advantage. They’re trying to gain popularity, gain money, and they’re just dishonest actors who don’t care about other people. That’s one thing that became glaringly obvious during 2020. Even Black Lives Matter, the top-level organization wasn’t even supporting its own organization below, who were complaining about not receiving new funding to actually do some activism.

I don’t like to use the word grift, but I find that there’s a lot of people who take advantage of moments and opportunities that arise, and they’re disingenuous, dishonest people. They actually really don’t care about people. The number one way you can tell that someone doesn’t care about them is they’re unwilling to tell the truth.

When new information comes out, you levy that truth and still progress forward. What I find is that they ignore the truth, they dismiss it, they excuse other things, and they keep moving forward towards their objective—and their objective tends to be make more money.

Mr. Jekielek:

I remember you talking about succumbing to some kind of, “pro-black rhetoric.”

Mr. Coleman:


Mr. Jekielek:


Mr. Coleman:

I’m searching for myself and trying to figure out myself, I was not always growing up around black people, I was in mixed neighborhoods. I was the only black kid. I’ve been in a whole bunch of different areas. But you’re searching for identity, and there’s a plethora of people who want to help you to find your black identity. On its surface, it’s not a bad thing.

I think finding identity can be fine. My search for black identity was something that I actually enjoyed until I started noticing that there is a level of animosity that comes with it that’s being preached. It is a celebration of being black and also a rejection of white or whiteness or things of that nature. This is years ago. I came across that racism is power plus privilege, and not just the hatred against someone else because of their race.

I started coming across these different areas of pro-black in a loose way, because it’s hard to define. I started coming across those things and I started to believe it, the animosity part, but it was very short lived. I looked around me and said, “Wait a minute, I know this person and all these people who don’t look like me who’ve done tremendous things for my life, not because I was black, but because they just like me. And I’ve done the same for other people. My son is mixed-race. How does this jive with the reality of things? Are things that simple that it’s just this dichotomy of good versus evil, black versus white?” And it had just seemed oversimplified.

When you start asking questions, typically you start realizing that it’s all manipulative. It’s a way to gain power for a lot of these people. There’s small segment of notable people and they thrive on that. They really do thrive on it. I don’t believe that they believe all the things that they’re saying, because they contradict themselves all the time. When it comes to certain ideologies, when they have a framework and they’re constantly contradictive, there’s a lot of hypocrisy that’s involved. You start saying, “This doesn’t make any sense for me.”

Some people just keep going forward with it and just turn a blind eye, because they think that the bigger picture of being pro-black and all these things is much more beneficial. I decided to go my own way and just be myself. I have no shame about being black. I know who I am. I know where I’m from. There’s no hatred of self. These are all shaming tactics that people try to levy against you when you don’t conform. Being black can come in different ways, and it’s a shame that we try to tell people that there’s only one way to be.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s interesting, I’ve been following you for a while, and I hadn’t fully put together that you view yourself as a black conservative, because you’re alluding to this as you’re speaking here. You have this piece recently, “I hate being in the black conservative box,” and what you were just saying made me think of that.

One of the people that’s been most influential in my life over the last five years has been Thomas Sowell, who’s written so many books in such an incredibly helpful way for anybody to understand the world. I didn’t know about him until 5, 6, 7 years ago, if you can believe that, but that’s because he was in the box. That’s what I think. What are your thoughts here?

Mr. Coleman:

I agree with you. I don’t think it’s a conservative idea to say that boys should be with their fathers or that fathers should be in the home with both their children or that marriage is a good institution to raise a family. Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, they all get married. When I advocate for these things, that’s my primary advocacy. I don’t see it as a conservative idea, but unfortunately that’s what it is.

But to add on top of that, I have melanin in my skin, so now it’s a black conservative idea, because I must be always talking about the black family. Granted, I wrote a book called Black Victim to Black Victor, so at times I do talk about race when it’s necessary. But most of the time I try not to, because it’s a human issue and it’s an American issue. The United States is the number one single parenthood country in the world, and it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem that’s affecting our society in different ways.

Those things just get categorized into black conservative thought or black conservative this or that. Even when I meet other conservatives, black or white, they see I wrote a book and they say, “Thomas Sowell, or do you know this person? You must like Candace Owens.” I had one person who gave me a genuine compliment about my book after he read it, and he compared me to someone who wasn’t black. He compared me to a white author that he knew, and he said he really enjoyed the book.

It’s not to say I want to be compared to white people. It’s just that I want to be compared to the best. I don’t take being compared to Thomas Sowell, if someone wants to compare it to Thomas Sowell, as an insult. I enjoy him, and I think he’s a really good author and really good thinker, but it’s when I’m not being compared to everybody. Thomas Sowell is one of the greats, regardless of skin color, not just because he’s black, and I think there’s that box that gets constructed for us.

Also, it was a little bit of a complaint, because there are other conservatives who are black who are more known than I am who speak recklessly. They say things that I agree with in general, but I don’t like their approach. I don’t always think that they’re being genuine. But yet when they say it, I’m also in that box, so I must believe what they’re saying, because their voice always gets heard.

My voice isn’t as big. My voice is always competing with theirs and their thoughts. Now, I have to defend myself against what they say because the box is small. I like to joke and say there’s only 10 of us. It’s a small box with a limited amount of people, and especially when it comes to people who are trying to speak out like myself, there’s not a lot of us. It always seems to be that we are having to measure ourselves against each other within this box.

When I’m advocating for meritocracy, I can’t get meritocracy because I’m in that black conservative box. I can’t have my idea seen as just a good idea, not that is a good conservative idea or that is a good black conservative idea. It’s just a good idea. Does it make sense?

There are a lot of boxes. I’m kind of complaining. There are a lot of boxes that exist in our society, and I even stated I don’t like any of these boxes. Things can show up in different ways and we don’t need all these boxes all the time. Sometimes it’s good to categorize things in generalities when it needs to be, but at times it really doesn’t.

I would hate to think that my successes that have come in the past couple years have only been because I am black or that I’m a black conservative. I would hope that’s because I measure up against other people as well as black conservatives, that I have what it takes to write for the New York Post and other publications because I’m a good writer, not that I’m a good black writer or black conservative writer.

Mr. Jekielek:

Yes. these are boxes, and this one specifically. I can think of other boxes like the, “I’m virulently against Trump box,” for example. This was a huge one that was used to label and discredit and just dismiss a whole suite of people or ideas. It’s very convenient. I’ll go back to Thomas Sowell because I keep thinking about this.

His idea was that you should look at incentive structures instead of goals, it’s just such a beautiful, sublime idea. The moment you grasp it, you view the world differently. This is one of the things I learned. What a beautiful idea. Why couldn’t I have gotten that idea as a kid, because of this beautiful realm of thought? No, it was put in a box, and it was isolated. That’s how I see it. I feel like we have to break through these boxes.

Mr. Coleman:

Absolutely. Twitter spaces has been a profound place to have conversations with people and have people come in and listen to what you have to say. I’ve had tough conversations with people who would be within my box, and we just don’t agree on certain things and other things we do. There’s been plenty of times that I’ve learned a lot from other people that I thought that I knew the answer and they gave a different perspective and it made me question myself.

The Twitter files show the suppression of voices and all the censorship. I just imagine how much information was withheld, along with many very intelligent people. Even if they’re people I don’t necessarily agree with, they gave a different voice to it, a different narrative.

We shouldn’t be afraid to hear a different voice. If they’re so wrong, then we should be able to use that information and challenge what we believe and then we can discard the bad information. But if we only get one viewpoint or one side or however you want to say it, how do we actually grow? For example, I am wholly pro-life, and I don’t think it’ll be right for me to ban pro-choice discussion or advocating for abortions if I had that power, because if I lose that power then they can come after me.

Mostly why I’m free speech is because there’s a lot of power in speech and there’s even more power in controlling speech. To level the playing field, we a