Aug 23, 2021 • 59M

John McWhorter — A Walk Down Memory Lane

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Glenn Loury
Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.
Episode details

Today, I’ve got a special treat for TGS fans: my first ever recorded conversation with John McWhorter, which occurred on (brace yourselves) November 7, 2007. People who started following John and me in recent years may not be aware of how long we’ve been at this, but it’s been almost 14 years.

As you might expect, while the topics we discuss are familiar, our positions relative to each other have changed. In 2007, I was clearly to John’s left! One thing that hasn’t changed is John’s superhuman productivity. He notes at the beginning that he is just finishing up writing two books.

We begin by talking about John’s gig as a columnist for the New York Sun. I put the screws to John and ask him in a purposefully un-nuanced way if he is a conservative, and he answers with a typically nuanced response. We discuss John’s then-recent resignation from UC-Berkeley (a very gutsy move) before moving on to broader concerns like globalization’s impact on the black working class, the prospects for cross-racial class solidarity, and how to address racial disparities in education in a more targeted fashion than simply crying “more funding.”

At the conversation’s end, we both remark on how much fun it was to talk with each other (even on ancient technology like John’s cordless phone). I’m happy to report that it’s still fun. And I am extremely curious to know what you all think about the differences and similarities between where we started and where we are today. Let me know in the comments!

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0:00 A walk down memory lane

1:02 John's gig as a columnist

4:38 The black intellectual's challenge

17:17 John: There is life outside the academy

34:00 Disappearing factories and black poverty

40:53 Glenn calls for cross-racial working-class solidarity

51:39 Is unequal school funding a red herring?