Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
John McWhorter and James Beaman – A Peek Behind the Antiracist Curtain

John McWhorter and James Beaman – A Peek Behind the Antiracist Curtain


This week on The Glenn Show, we’re continuing our series on wokeism in the arts. John and I are joined by the actor James Beaman, a theatrical performer with decades of experience on the stage who was also, not coincidentally, John’s college roommate! In past episodes, John has related second-hand accounts of James’s recent experiences dealing with antiracist-inspired shunning, and now he joins us to give his perspective on how the theater world is handling the post-George Floyd moment.

James begins by explaining how the pandemic led to the Actors’ Equity Association opening their ranks not only to increase diversity but to ensure the survival of the union. But along with diversity has come the “antiracism” of Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, which James sees as a dangerous development. He recounts a jaw-dropping story from a productions in which his attempt to smooth over relations among racially diverse cast members led to his shunning, and another at Juilliard that exemplifies the way that antiracist attitudes have taken hold in the performing arts. James leaves us with powerful reminder of the role art plays in processing, rather than suppressing, social tensions. After James departs, I press John a bit on his desire to replace “structural racism” with “racial inequities.” It’s not that I prefer the former but that I think “inequities” unjustly deemphasizes the role that individual choices and behavior play in causing the achievement gaps that both John and I bemoan. By way of explaining that he’s trying to get his message out to all those who can be reached, John introduces “Donna” to the cast of TGS characters.

I learned a lot listening to James talk about his experiences in the theater, and I applaud his courage in speaking about them publicly. I hope his appearance here will inspire more people to do the same.

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Featured Content from City Journal

Heather Mac Donald on how progressives profess to care deeply about inner-city black Americans, but their voting patterns suggest otherwise

0:00 How the pandemic affected diversity in the theater

10:24 James gets drawn into an “antiracist” meltdown during rehearsal

26:58 Juilliard students revolt

39:19 A plea for mutual understanding in the theater

47:57 A preview of things to come on The Glenn Show

50:32 Glenn’s problem with “racial inequity”

59:18 Getting through to “Donna”

1:03:58 To speak your mind or to speak strategically?

Recorded November 27, 2022

Links and Readings

James’s homepage

Glenn and John’s conversation with Don Baton

John’s NYT piece, “‘Racism’ Without Racists”

Ronald Ferguson’s speech from Glenn’s festschrift


Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute