Transcript: Glenn Loury On Being A Minority Within A Minority
The brilliant economist gets personal.
Glenn is an academic and writer. At the age of 33, he became the first African-American professor of economics at Harvard to get tenure, and he’s currently the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Economics at Brown University, as well as a Paulson Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His longtime podcast, The Glenn Show, is now on Substack, where he regularly appears with John McWhorter. He’s currently writing a memoir of his incredibly colorful life, The Enemy Within, which we talk about at length.
This episode originally aired on January 13, 2023. Some money quotes from Glenn:
“I’m a black kid from the South Side of Chicago. Those are my people. That was the pull for me to reorient myself. I was unhappy with my life as a token and a mascot. That was the unfriendly way of putting it. But there was some truth in that.”
“Don’t make us [black Americans] into clients. Don’t make us into wards. Don’t make us into a project. Don’t patronize us.”
“I wouldn’t take solving the racial wealth gap as a goal of public policy, to be honest with you … Why not simply address ourselves, to the extent that we’re concerned about the lack of wealth of some quarters in the society, to the lack of wealth? What’s race got to do with it?”
“I did not abandon the South Side. I transcended it. … I’m not less black for being, as it were, a free man.”
Andrew: Hi there guys, and welcome back to the Dishcast. Today we have somebody I've admired for most of my adult life, and have identified with in some ways, although I'm not of his intellectual caliber. He is Glenn Loury and he's an economist, academic, and writer, now extremely well known and discussed and debated online.
At the age of 33, he became the first African American professor of economics at Harvard to get tenure. He's currently the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Economics at Brown, as well as a Paulson Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He's written for many publications over the years, including the New Republic, including for me back in the day, and the Public Interest. His longtime podcast, the Glenn Show, is now on Substack, where he regularly appears with John McWhorter. I've listened to him and John talk for years now and I've always learned something from it.
And when Glenn is in full rant mode, I just want to sit back and have a bubble bath and just enjoy the sheer glorious ranting that he does. He's also writing, and trying to finish, actually, a memoir, The Enemy Within. A very provocative title, but a very complicated and interesting life.
Glenn, it's an honor to have you on the Dishcast. Thanks for coming.
Glenn: Thank you, Andrew. Good to be with you.
Andrew: I want to talk to you, first of all, about exactly what you're writing about, which is a memoir. How you came to be who you are and the interactions you've had as an intellectual, and also as an African American, in your life's journey.
You said you're 74 and writing a memoir now must be a very interesting thing, a very sort of sobering thing, to look at all that you've been and done. Tell us first of all about your childhood on the South Side of Chicago. It sounds like both an extraordinary, alive, vivid, social, cultural explosion of things, a real life. Tell us how it affected you and how you came out of that.
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