John McWhorter: Racial Equality May Mean Genetic Editing To Close Racial IQ Gap

John McWhorter: Racial Equality May Mean Genetic Editing To Close Racial IQ Gap

John McWhorter: Racial Equality May Mean Genetic Editing To Close Racial IQ Gap. Photo: Flickr

Scholars Dr. Glenn Loury and Dr. John McWhorter wondered out loud during a recent discussion whether genetic editing could be used to make Black people smarter and less violent.

Genetic editing, or genome engineering, is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified, or replaced in the genome of a living organism. In other words, altering someone’s DNA to achieve a desired quality such as eye color or gender.

Loury and McWhorter pondered the idea of intelligence and gentility being engineered into people during an online episode of “The Glenn Show,” in which Loury invites guests from academia, journalism and public affairs to share insights on economic, political and social issues.

Dr. Loury is an economics professor at Brown University. An economist, doctor of philosophy, author and commentator, he was the first-ever tenured Black professor of economics at Harvard University.

Dr. McWhorter is a linguistics professor at Columbia University. He teaches Languages of Africa, is an outspoken advocate of reparations and is the author or editor of 20 books.

Neither Loury nor McWhorter said they agree with genetic editing, but they questioned if it could be used to change the behavior of Black people and if it could stop Black-on-Black violence.

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When science discovers what creates high intelligence in some people, then “we get the point where you can give it to anyone you want. That’s a brave new world,” McWhorter said. The racial IQ gap could be cured with a serum, he noted.

Loury then asked McWhorter if he thought genetic editing could be used to root out violence in the Black community — “physiological and biophysical roots or a predilection to violence that might have a racial aspect to them that could help account for the huge racial disparity in violence, that also might give us clues as to what’s actually going on with this behavior and how it can be avoided.”

McWhorter replied that other groups who were once underserved, such as Irish Americans, had a penchant for violence, “so it cannot be traced to anything about Africans.” However, he pointed out that there has been some school of thought that there is a genetic connection.

Of course, some took offense at these ideas or speculative thoughts.

Twitter user @yoyomorena, who identifies as one of the 1.7 percent of American lawyers who is Black and a woman, wrote, “Siri, show me photos of Black academics who make a living off anti-blackness.” The thread continued, “You know, like Black people who argue Blacks have a lower IQ, need more discipline, need more bootstrapping, etc, normal stuff.”

She questioned the qualifications of Loury and McWhorter to discuss genetics, tweeting, “Wherein John McWhorter suggests that in the future, equity will mean offering Black people CRISPR gene editing to close the racial IQ gap, and a “serum” to level up Black cognitive abilities. Loury is an economist, McWhorter a linguist. Neither has any background in genetics.”

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Another person tweeted in response, “Ah yes, ‘what if the anti-racists… are the real racists,’ an idea with a long and proud history.”

Loury is known for making controversial statements, especially on his show. He once said Black people use the term “structural racism” as an excuse. According to Loury, structural racism is merely a bluff and bludgeon to cover for excuses.

McWhorter was in the news for defending then-presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. McWhorter spoke out against the “woke” attack on Buttigieg’s handling of racial unrest in his city.


“CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) is short for “clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” It describes the protein Cas9, an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors, capable of cutting strands of DNA, according to Live Science.

“CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.”