Race and Class: Glenn Loury

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Glenn Loury

Glenn Loury

Glenn Loury, in his colleague Paul Krugman’s account, “has become what, say, Arthur Koestler or George Orwell was in another time and place: one of those emblematic intellectuals whose career illustrates in microcosm the dilemmas, temptations, and betrayals of an era.”

Loury has walked the race-and-class walk in two illuminating dimensions. First was his route out of the black working-class South Side of Chicago to an MIT Ph.D in economics and then tenure at Harvard and fame at the Kennedy School. More difficult, I’d guess, was the treacherous path in and out of Reaganism (he became a poster boy against affirmative action in the mid-late 80’s and prayed on the phone with Clarence Thomas during the confirmation hearings) punctuated by personal breakdown and later by a powerful reconnection with his extended family and his black roots. It is great story that’s been told at length in the New York Times Magazine. The major news since then has been Loury’s move from Boston University back to the Ivy League at Brown University; and his taking the John von Neumann Award last month (in the footsteps of Gary Becker) at the Rajk László College of the Budapest University of Economic Science and Public Administration.

So the story continues in our race-and-class conversation this evening as the story of one man’s personal and professional self-discovery. The news of Katrina for Glenn Loury is as much an existential as a professional challenge.

Update, 10/2/05 7:46 pm

Glenn Loury just mentioned the book When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America

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  • Abby

    This wasn’t a show about health care, but I think that you need to do a show on that very topic. Reform is on the horizon in Massachusetts and probably in other places too. See, for example, California.

    John McDonough of Health Care for All would be a great guest. He’s a blogger too.

  • shpilk

    Bill Bennett, a supposed ‘moral leader’ of the right, revealed with his ‘Freudian slip’ his dream wish that is part of the race/class war.

    Is the Bennett dream wish is that supression of abortion is for whites of means only?

    Health care, nutrition, opportunity – all aspects of the race/class war – each a separate show and then some.

    And finally, the race/class war is capped by the prison system and the supression of enfranchisement – keeping the poor and minorities from voting, either by denying proper voting resources in the poor and minority districts, or by outright using {legally and illegally} ‘felon lists’ to deny people from voting.

  • shpilk

    Excellent show.

    Glenn Loury provides crucial guidance and ideas to the progressive movement.

  • JeanDany

    It was a marvelous show Chris. Time was your ennemy. Maybe you should bring your guest back sooon before the topic fades away like ‘the election of 04, or the ongoing war. Mr. Loury is a real voice.

  • fsheth


    Finally heard the show last night. Congratulations to both you and Loury–it was a clear, radical, and substantial hour of conversation about race. Loury was perhaps even more remarkable than he usually is: outraged, precise, and clear about whom to be angry with regarding the abuse, indifference, and systematic injustice affecting African-Americans. He was insightful about pointing to the years of neglect and denial of benefits that preceded Katrina. He was astute in pointing to the 2 million Black Americans incarcerated in this country.

    And yet, in his story, I hear a familiar duel: White v. Black. Rich v. poor. Conservatives and Liberals abandoning African Americans. And again, I hear a familiar eclipse and a familiar isolationism, and (I say wearily) a familiar insularity: where are all the other brown people? Is this an accurate story? Where do immigrants fit into this?

    Why does it make sense–to Loury, to your audience– to be outraged that children in inner cities are living under “Third World” conditions?

    Doesn’t this easily recognized description [Third World conditions] reinforce the sense of superiority that “we” Americans are too good to live like those poor brown people in the rest of the world? And who are “we”? Isn’t Glenn’s outrage, in part, that Black Americans have been “reduced” to living the way that poor brown people in India, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, the poorer parts of the Middle East, and Asia are living? Or that African-Americans are being treated the way the these countries are at the hands of the IMF and the World Bank? That is, with indifference, cruelty, and under extreme exploitative conditions. So, it’s outrageous b/c African-Americans are being treated like 3rd world brown folk? Isn’t it also–already–outrageous that the 3rd world has to live in such ridiculous circumstances in large part b/c of the US and its lackeys who are in charge of lending policies?

    And finally, why do African-Americans remain located and identified in distinction from other minorities in the U.S.? From new and lower-class immigrant populations? From illegal migrant labor? Are these other populations not living under similar or identical circumstances to poor African-Americans? And are they not “raced” as well?

    Just a thought or two. Nevertheless, a very good show.

  • Potter

    I just re-listened to this show. I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have these archived.

    Anyway I did fine that essa on Loury by Paul Krugman (which is excellent) here: