Brown University professor and host of “The Glenn Show” Glenn Loury has a message for Ibram X. Kendi and the rest of the “anti-racism” activists dominating leftist conversations about race. He says they are bluffing.
Everyone who is interested in race relations in the United States — and that should be everyone — should spend two minutes watching this clip. It is the most precise explanation that you will ever see for why outcomes for black Americans lag behind those of many other ethnic and racial groups.
Here I explain my idea of the "bluffing equilibrium" that stifles public discussion in America about persistent racial inequality. For more of the same, follow us at https://t.co/Wy8KpOFZx9 pic.twitter.com/x4a9DuccwE
— Glenn Loury (@GlennLoury) December 29, 2020
Rarely has so much good sense been made in so short a period of time. Loury talks about an equilibrium of tacit agreements under which nobody talks about issues like black on black crime, or the status of the black family, or underperformance of black students, all in order to protect black dignity. There is no doubt that these agreements are in place. Loury is well-placed to understand them in the academy from which they are mainly sprung. This is where the bluff comes in.
The bluff is the belief that nobody will break these agreements and tell the truth that black Americans in fact have agency and a degree of responsibility for their own conditions. Loury is asking us to call this bluff and promising that if we do the critical race theorists will “have no cards.”
He is absolutely right. The idea that the solution to crime, poverty, and academic underperformance among black Americans will be fixed by addressing vague and amorphous notions like systemic racism and privilege theory is flat-out absurd. The only people who truly benefit from this nonsense are those who promulgate it, earning millions by selling white people a quick cure for guilt.
Loury posits that if more black people like himself and his co-host, Columbia University professor John McWhorter, start breaking these agreements of silence, then more white people will too. Well, I’m a white person taking him up on his offer.
I will not pretend that the problems black Americans face will magically wither if more soccer moms read “White Fragility” in their book clubs. I will not pretend that police are responsible for anything but a tiny minority of the black men, women, and children being gunned down in our nation when it is blatantly obvious that the bigger problem is crime itself. I urge all Americans to speak these truths.
None of this is to say that historical inequity does not play a role in the condition of the nation’s black communities, but the past can’t be changed. The future can. As Loury points out, the engine of the American economy has lifted millions of non-white immigrants into great success in America, which would be an impossibility if the real issue is white supremacy.
Far too often, serious solutions like charter schools and school choice, enhanced policing tactics, and strengthening the black family are ignored because of these tacit agreements. The problem is not in 1619, it is in 2020.
Loury is very much a black intellectual in the conservative tradition of Thomas Sowell and the recently deceased Walter Williams. Also like them, he is a rare voice.
Sowell has joked that he and Williams have been nervous about taking the same plane because if it went down the movement would be gone. Sowell and Williams were largely ignored by the left and deserved more attention from white conservatives, quite possibly as a result of these very tacit agreements. This is a mistake that white conservatives must not repeat.
Take Loury’s challenge. Call the progressive anti-racism bluff. It will do far more to improve outcomes for black Americans than tearing down statues or posting positive things about Black Lives Matter on social media. Speak the truth. The worst they can do is call you a racist. And hey, they are going to do that anyway.