Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
John McWhorter – SATs, Colorblindness, and New Movies on Race

John McWhorter – SATs, Colorblindness, and New Movies on Race


John and I were prevented from recording last week, but he’s back! John is taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Queens and instead comes to us from Key West, Florida, where he tells us the sun is shining, the roosters are crowing, and people have harsh words for Ron DeSantis. We’ve got a spicy melange of topics for you this week, so let’s get into it.

We start with a discussion of two recent films that have something to say about race: American Fiction and Rustin. We both liked the former, a witty and humanistic adaptation of Percival Everett’s novel Erasure from writer-director Cord Jefferson. The latter left us cold, though. There’s a little too much 2023 in the film’s 1963. John walks us through a couple of his recent New York Times columns. One is about the return of the SATs. We’re both gratified to see that more colleges are re-adopting the test in their admissions process after dropping it for a few years. The other column sees John donning his linguist hat. It’s okay to end sentences with prepositions, he tells us, despite what many of us learned in school. In fact, he recommends that we drop all sorts of arbitrary grammar “rules.” From there, we pick up two threads in our ongoing conversation: colorblindness and the presidential race.

There’s a lot going on in this one. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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0:00 The word about Ron DeSantis on the streets of Key West

3:32 John’s awards show allergy

6:41 The realness of American Fiction

14:50 Ground News ad

17:03 Rustin’s narrow historical vision

24:09 The SATs are on their way back

25:36 Afraid to flagrantly split infinitives and end sentences with prepositions? That’s something you should get over.

28:42 What do we mean by “colorblindness” today?

40:43 John: Maybe we have to be a little cold-hearted about colorblindness

43:09 What does rigid colorblindness blind us to?

48:53 What would Stanley Crouch do?

53:21 Debating the presidential debates

Recorded March 16, 2024

Links and Readings

American Fiction trailer

Percival Everett’s novel, Erasure

Rustin trailer

Bayard Rustin’s 1965 Commentary essay, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement”

John’s NYT piece, “No, the SAT Isn’t Racist”

John’s NYT piece, “The ‘Rule’ against Ending Sentences with Prepositions Has Always Been Silly”

Coleman Hughes’s book, The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America

Stanley Crouch’s book, Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989

Stanley Crouch’s book, The All-American Skin Game, or The Decoy of Race: The Long and Short of It, 1990-1994


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