The Glenn Show: John McWhorter – Sixteen Years of "The Black Guys"
In this episode John and I revisit our first conversation, which we recorded for Bloggingheads back in 2007. We take a handful of clips and talk about how our positions have and haven’t changed. At the time, I was more affiliated with the political left than the right. Five years earlier, I had published The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, a progressive analysis of racial stigma. The following year, I would publish Race, Incarceration, and American Values, a critique of what’s now known as mass incarceration. John had recently left his tenured position at UC-Berkeley to work for the Manhattan Institute.
In some ways, we’ve literally flipped our positions—I’m the one with the Manhattan Institute affiliation now. In some ways, I’m now more closely aligned with the John McWhorter of 2007 than I am with the Glenn Loury of 2007. I think he was right about the close-mindedness of academic discourse around race, which I wasn’t prepared to admit at the time. And while I give more credence to the effect of deindustrialization on black communities than John does, he was certainly right to point out that it can’t explain all or even most of the problems we continue to face.
In the sixteen years since we began recording our conversations, a lot has changed in both of our lives. And yet our intellectual partnership endures, despite our respective shifts in perspective. I doubt either of us could have imagined, back in 2007, that we would play the kind of role in each other’s lives that we have. But here we are, and we have no plans to stop. It’s too rewarding and too much fun.
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