My biggest problem with the government handout of slave reparations is, in addition to what Glenn said, said, is that it will encourage the slave reps set to continue asking for more reparations because these people (mostly on the left) are NEVER satisfied, 'woke' antiracists will never admit any progress or real reparations were made, and it will open up every other victim group in America to come forward, hands out, asking for reparations. Women? We can beat black people in suffering departments, we can argue we've been enslaved by 'the patriarchy' for 12,000 years, which dwarfs 400 years of American slavery, and of course Native Americans, with a longer history of abuse under colonialism, and fewer real-world prospects today, can do the same. It will be never-ending. It will feed the toxic victimhood complex in many 'woke' and left-wing brains, and solve very little. No, I don't think black people, or anyone else, will fare much better with reparations. Better that we all work together, as Glenn notes, to perhaps form a party to stand up for the rights and needs of the bottom 10% or whatever percentage which might 'trickle up' to the rest of us in the ever-shrinking middle class who also need help.

Any rectification of social ills issue should incorporate, in my opinion, requiring the 'oppressed' to also face and acknowledge what *they* can do differently and challenge themselves more. I see a lot of black people and a lot of women (including myself) who've spent a lifetime holding ourselves back for one dumb reason or another, and we *all* need to step up to the plate, try a little harder, stand up for ourselves more, challenge the system more. The fault is never *all* racism, sexism, or any other -ism.

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Dr. Loury always makes one pause and consider our existing positions in a way that is very unusual these days. I think he does so because most of the discourse above is Dr. Loury posing thoughtful questions in response to the questions he is being asked. Most academics and pundits display little genuine interest in questioning their own positions and assumptions. Thanks for posting the conversation.

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Thank you, Dr. Loury. Your viewpoints really made me think. Many I have been in agreement with for a long time, and many really made me re-evaluate my understanding of the issue. As regards affirmative action in college admissions and hiring, especially when the lowering of standards started for those affirmative action intends to help, the question for me has always been what can be done to ensure that disadvantaged minority students come out of high school with the same knowledge and skill level as others do? That is the problem that in my mind always needs to be addressed. I firmly believe that if that can be accomplished, it would go a long way in addressing the incarceration issue as well. We can't continue to fail in early education and expect the students who were victims of this failure to succeed at elite universities. It's like putting them in a boxing ring with Ali and tying their hands behind their backs.

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The assumption about racial preferences is that you can have them, and everything else will remain the same. But everything doesn’t remain the same. It has effects on the white majority, and those effects mostly aren’t good for black people’s progress. Here are a few data points.

In my field, all the minority preferences overwhelmingly go to South Asian immigrants whose companies, by and large, employ only South Asian people. Out of ~100 minority firms that I screened, exactly two were owned by and/or employed black people. The South Asian-owned firms are the firms that there are, among whom 15% of the value of every contract funded by my state must, by statute, be divided. How is this helping black people?

In the aftermath and shock of the Trump ascendancy, I came across a Washington Post poll result that something like 45% of white Trump voters believed that white people are more discriminated against than black people in the United States. Unbelievable, I know. Yet the followups show that they are thinking of affirmative action. So when it comes to support by the majority for social progress, we are down 30+ million votes at the very start. This is more than the entire black voting population.

Moreover, there are plenty of people, for example, with experience with college admissions, or with recruiting for professional positions, who come in contact with racial preferences that is detrimental to them. They wouldn’t go as far as those polled, they accept that this is the way it is, but nevertheless don't find this discrimination against them to be exactly right, and are not happy that they don't feel they can say anything about it. How many additional millions of votes are there in this category, expressing that unease in the privacy of the voting booth? How much of the willingness to accept the conservative coup in the Supreme Court derives from this source?

In the last quarter-century, I have seen organizations changing to “objective” recruiting and interviewing methods. In practice this means that they are no longer even trying to find the best candidates (of any race) for their open positions, but are simply seeking merely qualified people in the right categories, so as to hit their numbers. It corresponds with a negative effect on on organizational performance that has been very obvious to me.

People in the majority see this in the world, and they note it, and they respond in the way they respond. Not necessarily in a way that will help black people. And all because of a policy that doesn’t work.

That’s what affirmative action gets us. Is it worth it?

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"Do we really want to build into our policy going forward, forever, the idea that blacks simply can’t be judged to the same standard with respect to this kind of undertaking?"

Want it or not, that appears to be what we're doing in one more iteration of redefining words so that they no longer mean what they have always meant. It happened with terms like vaccine, woman, and recession, so why not discrimination? Of course, affirmative action is race-based discrimination. Any time one group is privileged based on immutable characteristics, another group is by definition harmed for the same reason. It's paternalistic and condescending to blacks, and an in-your-face move to non-blacks that does nothing to promote equality and everything to produce hard feelings.

At this stage in life, I find it difficult to conclude that the race question will never be over simply because too many people benefit from it staying in the public eye. It ties to what I've said about activism which typically exists to perpetuate a problem or issue because if the question was solved, the people asking it would have to find another way to make a living. It is entirely likely that my granddaughters' grandchildren will be hearing this same talk. Race is business, big business combined with big political power. No one cares how significantly things have changed in our lifetimes. There are young people being inculcated to believe that the deck is stacked against them despite mounds of evidence to the contrary.

If anything, race relations have worsened over time and I'll avoid pointing to any single culprit, though one name comes to mind and its presence in the discussion is tinged by a weapons-grade level of irony. Worse than that, however, is the racialism that is gradually being institutionalized. Any criticism of a black person's words or acts can only be the result of racism, not the person's words or actions. The same can often be said of women - "that's misogynist," the talking point goes - and it is also wrong. Why are some groups immune to legitimate criticism? Equality means judging people by the same standard. It is among the simplest concepts there is yet there is every incentive to complicate it in the pursuit of personal standing and govt power.

In the end, you cannot undo events of the past by giving them a new name and repeating them in the present, with the only switch being who benefits and who is sanctioned. That is the sort of intellectual bankruptcy that gave rise to the likes of Henry Rogers, who decided that being a guy with three names was a better way of cashing in on grievance than being a two-named college professor. Then again, it seems the point of much of what's in the public arena these days is designed to foster division. How such an outcome benefits the country is another matter.

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

This is where I part from Glenn. I have the utmost respect for him, but in my view these programs should NEVER have been implemented. The purpose of the state, of law, is to uphold the inalienable and to ensure that law is applied equally, to everyone, everywhere. You cannot ask the law to plunder because its expedient, then ask it to stop plundering when its not expedient. You don't right a wrong by creating another wrong. That is a dangerous game..

These programs were never equitable, because nothing can justify using someone as a means to an end, and that's precisely what quotas do.

Granted, blacks were not given equal rights under the law for a long time, but asking people to pay for the crimes of their ancestor is a dangerous proposition. You don't want the law to place people into groups. If you go down that path, then it won't be long before the state investigates everyone's background, and seeks to identify and force reparations on those with an ancestor -- any ancestor -- who has committed a crime. People must be treated as individuals.

And blacks won't escape that type of historical culpability, that type of legal strangulation either, because there were black slave owners, black slave traders, so on and so forth.

Merit and examinations are the only way to ensure fairness and justice.

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Many good points made here (as always). But I think the most salient is that, if BLM and the white Wokies truly want to change the system, they have to, as GL said, change a majority of hearts and minds. Clearly, they have no interest in doing that. Instead, they want to tear up the constitution, shit on the legacy of the Founding Fathers, censor anything that doesn’t serve their agenda, and claim that to be white is racist in and of itself (and there’s no way to fix it). Oh, and America was solely founded on slavery and always has been and that’s also unredeemable. The backlash has been, is, and will continue to be expected and obvious. King understood that poor whites and poor blacks were very similar. He grasped that you couldn’t alienate tens of millions of people. But that was back in a time when politicians cared about their voters, a time when the polity still bought into the democratic ideal. That all seems to be over now. Wokeism is insane but then again: they’re controlling the media and academic narrative, and (this is crucial) they’re making a profit. Because the truth is most of them care very little about racial progress. They care about power. If they really cared they’d be honest about the data which shows that police brutality is not even a tiny spec of what the media makes it out to be. They’d be praising Roland Fryer, not denouncing him. It’s bizarre because it’s good news: black Americans have never had it better! Yes there are still inequities, especially in urban ghettos. Much of that exists as a result of systemic racism long ago. But slavery ended in 1863. The Atlantic Slave trade in America ended in 1807. Hell, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787/9 ended slavery in that province then. I agree with GL: isn’t it patronizing and—dare I say it—racist to lower the bar for certain groups? Doesn’t culture play a role? Is it up to white people to fix everything or are black people capable enough to do it themselves?

Since I view all humans of all races, ethnicities and genders as equal, why not let the meritocratic cream naturally rise to the top? I know all the old arguments about slavery and Jim Crow and the lack of generational wealth. But look at the history of the Jews, the Russians, the Chinese, the Irish, the Germans, etc. No one got it easy. Slavery has been around since time immemorial. Africans were enslaving other Africans before, during and after the West. Are we going to go back into every group’s history and try to adjust the scale now, in 2022? I’m all for better educational resources to underfunded schools, etc. But being given things and skipping the line solely because of the color of your skin regardless of your familial heritage? I don’t know about that. There’s also a much bigger thriving black middle-class now. Why are we never hearing about them in the media? The binary is absurd: all black people are poor victims; all white people are white supremacists. Where does that alcoholic thinking get us?

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Two points I'd like to make in response to our excellent host, Prof Loury:

1. "It is discrimination to the extent that it’s undertaken to benefit blacks or Latinos..."

I am all for anything and everything that helps ADOS after all the shit they've had to eat for centuries, and I will never raise a peep in rebuttal against any claim made by an ADOS. (Maybe except for the extreme Kendian claims.)

That being said, as for Latinos, East or West Indians, all flavors of Asian, etc etc: they deserve as much of a boost as my penniless Sicilian grandparents got when they arrived 110 yrs ago: None.

Talk about "cultural appropriation"! No other group deserves to steal any of the oppression shine from ADOS, and yes, just about every other group (esp those people of darker shades) have had to deal w discrimination too (including even Germans and Irish!). But that's just the arc of American immigration: first gen deals w hatred and stupidity; 2nd gen gets a rung in the middle class or better; 3rd gen becomes just more spoiled entitled Americans, like me and all my immigrant friends straight outta Queens, NYC.

2. It doesn't matter what the Supreme Court rules, nothing short of nuclear war could ever stop our elite colleges from social engineering via race/tribe, it is their holy mission. They will just hide or reshape or rename, but they will never give up their sacred cause. Our academic elites will do all they can to "save" Black people whether Black people like it or not!

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Whoa, this was like Bizarro World Glenn Loury. Ibram X. Loury. Enough hand-wringing, already! In the words of the old philosopher, Nike, "Just do it!"

Huge fan of Dr. Loury, of course, and there were aspects of his comments with which I agreed. But overall, not much agreement on this at best ambivalent message.

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Great read, as usual. I think black separatism, in politics and culture, has set things back for black Americans. Also, hijacking of political movements by the political left (for their own goals) has hindered unity and progress.

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Very well said.

When Dr. King was active I, as a student, leaned towards those voices who cried for more radicalism; but now, 54 years after Dr. King's death the devastation brought by that radicalism, and the poisonous Wokeness it has led us to, prove that he was right all along.

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What I don’t get is why affirmative action is employed primarily for admission to colleges and professional programs where blind review is feasible—as it is for applications for positions in symphony orchestras where auditions behind a screen have made a huge difference. Discrimination in employment for most positions is still pervasive for positions that don’t require a college degree is pervasive. But that’s precisely where there is no attempt to intervene, through affirmative action or even through the enforcement of passive non-discrimination regulations.

I’m a woman and being a woman still stinks. Without government intervention my prospects would have been at best secretarial. Women play a high-stakes game without the minimally tolerable fallback positions that men have, which is why we now see proportionately more women going to college: we have no other viable options. If we don’t clear the bar we are de facto restricted to pink-collar drudge work: caring, cleaning, catering, cashiering, and clerical work. And that is why I support affirmative action: so that women can get blue collar jobs from which we are now excluded and so that minorities can get jobs where discrimination is ongoing. Affirmative action is not ‘reverse discrimination’—it’s the only practical way to ameliorate ongoing discrimination against women and minorities, particularly in hiring for non-college grad positions where blind review isn’t feasible.

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The inheritance tax is extraordinarily progressive, so I'm not sure that it makes a good analog for reparations. That is to say, most on the left believe you're entitled to inherit something, just not millions and millions.

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In my opinion, history demonstrates that African American progress prior to the”Great Society “ was remarkable. Oh for the chance to redirect government resources to better use! “I from the government, and hear to help you.” Shut the door! (R. I.P. a great patriot.)

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I'm a normally intelligent person, and still I rarely come away from reading or viewing GL without some kind of revelation or advancement in my thinking. Today it's the reparations discussion turning "relational discourse—how do we relate to our fellow citizens and what are our obligations as Americans?—into a transactional discourse."

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Well said, thank you. “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

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