Brown University Economist Dr. Glenn Loury: Structural Racism Is A Bluff And Bludgeon, Cover For Excuses

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Written by Ann Brown
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Are Black people using the term “structural racism” as an excuse? According to Brown University economics professor Dr. Glenn Loury, structural racial is merely a bluff and bludgeon to cover for excuses. Photo: Then-Harvard Prof. Glenn C. Loury, June 5, 1987. (AP Photo/Carol Francavilla)

Are Black people using the term “structural racism” as an excuse? According to Brown University economics professor Dr. Glenn Loury, structural racial is merely a bluff and bludgeon to cover for excuses.

Dr. Loury, an economist, author, commentator and doctor of philospophy, was the first-ever tenured Black professor of economics at Harvard University. He now teaches social sciences and economics at Brown. 

In an interview with the urban policy magazine City Journal, Loury was asked: If structural racism is not responsible for levels of crime and poverty and Black communities, what is?

Here’s how Loury answered the question.

Loury pointed to the breakdown of the Black family, the part Black people play in its destruction and how it can result in anti-social, aggressive Black males.

“Something like seven in 10 children born to an African-American woman in this country are born to a woman who doesn’t have a husband,” Loury said. “I don’t have an opinion about whether that’s right or wrong morally. But I do have a question about whether that’s at all relevant to aggressive behavior by male adolescents in American cities.

“I’m not making a claim that it is,” he continued. “But let’s just say I’m asserting that it could be. Suppose it’s the case that most incidents where police violence has been used against Black men are incidents where there was resistance to arrest.

“No, you did not hear me say that his resisting arrest justified killing him. But aggressive behavior is relevant to the dynamic of social interaction that may result in him being killed.”

This fact, Loury said, is not due to structural racism. 

“People cry, ‘structural racism.’ Is that why the homicide rate is an order of magnitude higher among young Black men? They say ‘structural racism’. Is that why the SAT test-score gap is as big as it is? They say structural racism. Is that why two in three Black American kids are born to women without a husband? Is it all about structural racism? Is everything structural racism?

“It has become a tautology explaining everything,” Loury continued. “All racial disparities are due to structural racism, evidently. Covid-19 comes along and there’s a disparity in the health incidence. It’s due to structural racism. They’re naming partners at a New York City law firm and there are few Black faces. Structural racism. They’re admitting people to specialized exam schools in New York City and the Asians do better. This has to be structural racism, with a twist—the twist being that this time, the structural racism somehow comes out favoring the Asians.”

Loury does admit that the history of African Americans is complex what with slavery, segregation, redlining and other things. But, he said, “the link between them and the contemporary circumstances of African-American communities, especially at the bottom end, is woefully inadequate to explain what we see.”

The inadequacies cannot be explained away by structural racism, which Loury said is a “bluff. It’s not an engagement with history. It’s a bullying tactic. In effect, it’s telling you to shut up.

“It is a bluff in the sense that it offers an explanation that is not really an explanation at all, and in effect dares the listener to come back with a response. For example, if someone says there are too many Blacks in prison in the United States and that that is because of structural racism, they are daring you to say there are too many black criminals and that is why there are so many Blacks in prison. They want you to say it is not the system’s fault, but the individual’s,” Loury told Spiked.

He added, “It is a bludgeon because it is a rhetorical move. It does not even pretend to be a scientific, policy-based argument. It asserts causes that never have to be demonstrated.”

Is Loury blaming Black people for the social injustices they face?

That is an especially ungenerous representation of my position, but I don’t think it’s a mischaracterization of it. I think I would put it differently, but I don’t think I would necessarily disagree.” Loury told City Journal.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

He continued, “Okay, yeah, I’m Black. Yeah, these people are Black. And we descend from Africans, and the Africans were enslaved. But how determinative is that fact of history on the condition of my community today if I’m an African-American? How determinative is that on the condition of my family today, for what happens in my life today? Left out of your litany was the civil rights era. Left out was the advent of affirmative action. Left out was the elaboration of an extensive welfare state with vast reach; I’m talking about support for indigent families; Medicaid; food stamps and unemployment insurance. Each of those has had its own consequences on the development of social life.”