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Obama Cheapened the Race Conversation
Glenn Loury is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University. He is one of the nation's foremost black intellectuals, having held positions at Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Boston University.
Loury's sometimes controversial dissection of racial disparities, systemic racism, and economic justice have often landed his views at the center of attention. Early in his professorial career, Loury made his mark as a distinguished academic economist with specific focus on the fields of welfare economics, industrial organization, natural resource economics, and the economics of income distribution. Once earmarked as the leading candidate for the position of under secretary of education in the Reagan administration before withdrawing his name from consideration, Loury also gained notoriety as a controversial social critic with right-wing perspectives that led to his designation as "one of the black darlings of the neoconservative intelligentsia" by Africana.com.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Loury became known for his abrasive critique of affirmative action and his propensity to blame racial inequality on the dysfunction and corruption within the black community, as opposed to the racist attitudes that some argued gave rise to this scenario.
In the late 1990s, however, Loury divulged a much-publicized split with the right, revising former viewpoints and attacking former colleagues. This break was formally ushered in with the release of his new book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, in February of 2002.
Question: What did the Gates incident teach us?
Glen Loury: I don't know that it can teach us all that much. I thought it was overblown as being emblematic of race relations or profiling, or anything of that sort. I didn't read it as insightful or really useful in that regard.
Though I do think how we reacted to the incident, what it became, drawing the president in and so on; perhaps would tell us something about, and this was my argument in the piece, how we process racial issues. How we talk and don't talk about them, maybe how we are quick to repair to some conventional and pat storyline about them.
The country has had a problem, is trying to overcome it. Some people are slower at that than others. There's a racist behind every bush. Let's not tolerate the racists; this kind of talk.
And I just thought the Gates' incident, and again, the president's handling of it, showed the thinness of that narrative; how that line was probably not any longer, if ever it was adequate, to capture the reality of our racial condition, if you will.
Question: What’s the reality of our racial condition?
Glen Loury: I don't want to pretend to omniscience here, but I'd say there are several aspects of it that I would point out.
One is the continuing fact of a developmental lag, or a gap, between the African-American population taken as a whole, not of course, including every person, on the one hand; and much of the rest of the country, on the other.
But actually, not the only group of people who manifest certain of the kinds of problems that I would talk about here and that are reflected in policing and prisons. Problems of poor education and intermittent employment and limited full human development. Problems of fragile and fractured communities and families of large numbers of under-socialized and under-developed young people who end up getting into trouble.
I could go on, and you see the line that this would draw. It would say that the African American population, taken as a whole, lags behind on the average along many of these dimensions. This is a stubborn reality and it has consequences. It can't be easily reconciled with a pat account about racism and discrimination that lets us relax into saying when we finally get this right, when we get rid of racism, when we reach the post-racial society, everything is going to be okay.
Well, no, because along the way here, as we've not yet been in this racial nirvana, facts on the ground have been created.
Blighted lives have played themselves out and human difficulties have developed. And these are stark, they're staring us in the face, they're the subtexts for a lot of our politics; they're the story behind the story. So when Gates, a Harvard professor, God bless him, I certainly intend him no ill will. But when he trots out this story about a racist, rogue police officer, and when he begins to embrace this rhetoric of racial profiling; and when the president buys into this, and unlike what the wisdom that he typically exhibits, President Obama, in conducting public affairs, makes a huge mistake by buying into this. It is a distraction from the real story.
The real story -- two and a quarter million Americans, half of whom are black, under lock and key on a given day -- the real story, stop and frisk as the police technique du jour, in city after city around this country where the rubber hits the road, in terms of profiling; where people are getting sent off to Richter's Island because they had a joint in their pocket, and so forth and so on.
Where the real story is kids learning how to be men from other kids who've been locked up for five years and then get out, because they all get out, go back to the same neighborhoods and strut their new bodies and their tattoos and their hardened attitudes as a part of the social counseling that ends up forming the normative structure of these communities. And I'm talking about tens upon tens, upon tens of thousands of them, in and out, in and out of this system.
If I may say so, how dare a Harvard professor and a president of the United States cheapen the serious political conversation that we have to have about locking up millions of our fellow citizens, by repairing to a pat all too familiar a storyline about racism and profiling in the abstract, against black men in general, even on Martha's Vineyard. I'm telling you that that is not the politics of change that we were promised during the campaign of 2008.
Recorded on: August 18, 2009.
Economist Glenn Loury is angry that the President’s handling of Louis Gates’ arrest distracted from the real issues.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.