Jack McWhorter’s paintings encapsulate metaphorical, visual and spiritual territory. They capture structures in motion as entities both earthbound and cosmic simultaneously.
McWhorter teaches linguistics, philosophy, American studies and music at Columbia University. His writing has appeared in multiple publications such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
Early Life and Education
McWhorter was raised in Philadelphia’s West Mount Airy neighborhood as the son of a social work professor and university administrator. After enrolling at Rutgers University for his bachelor’s degree in French, he went on to New York University and Stanford respectively for master’s and doctorate degrees in linguistics.
He has taught at numerous institutions throughout his academic career and contributed writing for publications like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Education.
He has harshly criticized anti-racism for what he considers to be its association with white supremacy, as well as questioning whether using “thug” to describe black criminals constitutes racism. For his opinions – many, including fellow liberals, have found them offensive and have offered their critique.
He was an artist whose inspiration stemmed from nature and travels. His works were featured in exhibitions in New York City as well as Belgium, China and Israel; permanent installation at Kent State University Stark features six panels that depict ancient alphabets and writing systems from diverse cultures.
He writes for The New York Times and other publications, hosts a podcast on language and culture, and speaks at universities around the country. Unafraid to take on controversial issues like cultural tokenism and Ebonics politics, he is unafraid to tackle topics others find uncomfortable.
He was described as a strong yet compassionate individual who always considered the consequences of his decisions before acting upon them. He was generous and kind toward colleagues and students alike, making his passing extremely saddening for many people.
Achievement and Honors
McWhorter has become widely renowned for his efforts to bring complex linguistic inquiries to a broad public through public lectures, books, articles and commentary. His efforts have been honored with various awards and honors including a 2022 Philip Merrill Award from American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).
Researching creole and pidgin languages, he developed theories like the Creole Prototype Hypothesis and Afrogenesis Theory. A prolific writer, by the time of his death he had published over a dozen books.
He was passionate about art, teaching painting at Kent State University at Stark for 32 years as coordinator for its art program and curator of its gallery as well as regional contact for Scholastic Art Awards.
McWhorter has made it his mission to encourage young African Americans to think creatively and break away from slavery and segregation. He maintains that today’s world is less racist, possessing an impressive perspective that makes for fascinating listening.
His work is shown internationally and represented by The Painting Center in New York City. Additionally, he has served as an invited artist at St. Luca School of Art and Architecture in Brussels, Belgium as well as Walworth Barbour American International School in Tel Aviv.
McWhorter enjoys reading and chess in his free time. Additionally, he’s been an ardent follower of Cleveland sports teams. Additionally, he loves inspiring his students by taking them out to see art exhibitions around Cleveland.
McWhorter has made great strides throughout his career thanks to God and hard work, reaching the pinnacle of his profession and earning much praise and acknowledgment along the way.
He is not only a writer and teacher; he’s also a radio host. Alongside Ben Zimmer and Nicole Holliday, he hosts “Spectacular Vernacular,” an hour long podcast exploring language evolution while creating word puzzles for listeners.
He has published several books on creole languages, black English and sociolects; most recently “Woke Racism” wherein he argues against illiberal neoracism disguised as antiracism that harms black communities. As of yet he is unmarried and childless. Currently his estimated net worth stands between two and three million dollars.