Author: Glenn C. Loury
Publisher: Harvard University Press
December 2001

>From the Publisher:
Speaking wisely and provocatively about the political economy of race, Glenn Loury has become one of our most prominent black intellectuals--and, because of his challenges to the orthodoxies of both left and right, one of the most controversial. A major statement of a position developed over the past decade, this book both epitomizes and explains Loury's understanding of the depressed conditions of so much of black society today--and the origins, consequences, and implications for the future of these conditions.

Using an economist's approach, Loury describes a vicious cycle of tainted social information that has resulted in a self-replicating pattern of racial stereotypes that rationalize and sustain discrimination. His analysis shows how the restrictions placed on black development by stereotypical and stigmatizing racial thinking deny a whole segment of the population the possibility of self-actualization that American society reveres--something that many contend would be undermined by remedies such as affirmative action. On the contrary, this book persuasively argues that the promise of fairness and individual freedom and dignity will remain unfulfilled without some forms of intervention based on race.

Brilliant in its account of how racial classifications are created and perpetuated, and how they resonate through the social, psychological, spiritual, and economic life of the nation, this compelling and passionate book gives us a new way of seeing--and, perhaps, seeing beyond--the damning categorization of race in America.

>From the Critics:
>From Publishers Weekly
In this highly persuasive analysis of race stigma in U.S. society, Loury, a political commentator and director of the Institute of Race and Social Division at Boston University, argues that it is not simply racial discrimination (which is "about how people are treated") that keeps African-Americans from achieving their goals, but rather the more complex reality of "racial stigma" "which is about who, at the deepest cognitive level, they are understood to be." Loury argues that the image white Americans have of black Americans as less than full citizens influences policy far more than who African-Americans actually are. Although much of Loury's argument is theoretical (his training as an economist is evident in his proposing and then testing various axioms), he grapples eloquently and vigorously with such concrete examples as affirmative action, arguments about racial IQ differences and racial profiling. He concludes that the employment of color-blind policies will not address widespread racial inequalities since they do not take into account either the external or internal harm done to African-Americans from "a protracted, ignoble history during which rewarding bias against blacks was the norm." Originally given as the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard, Loury's arguments are provocative and productive. (Feb. 8) Forecast: The controversies generated by books as diverse as Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve and Lani Guinier's The Tyranny of the Majority could be replicated by this short, cogently argued book if the public bandwidth is available for it at the time of its release. If not, expect the ideas to bubble up over the years via campus and lobbyist discussion. Copyright 2001Cahners Business Information.

>From Library Journal
Loury, the founding Director of the Institute on Race and Social Division at Boston University and author of the 1996 American Book Award winner One by One from the Inside Out, draws on decision theory to explain how racial stigma is constructed and maintained. He also demonstrates how social bias exerts a feedback effect that actually reinforces the stigma associated with being African American. Centering on "thought problems" that are clever but at times convoluted, Loury argues persuasively that "race blindness" in liberal policy is not only cognitively impossible but also counterproductive in eliminating racial inequality. Particularly important is his powerful challenge to the indifference with which American society regards the incarceration of 1.2 million young African Americans. Loury lays this horrific consequence at the feet of racially influenced social policy and patterns of social interaction. Recommended for academic and public collections. Paula R. Dempsey, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

>From Kirkus Reviews
A fresh, challenging analysis of the racial inequality endured by African-Americans. Loury (Economics/Boston Univ.; One by One from the Inside Out, 1995, etc.) first presented these arguments as the W.E.B. DuBois Lectures at Harvard in April 2000. One of his principal observations is that those who consider racial issues should replace the concept of racial discrimination with that of "racial stigma." People are stigmatized, he says, when they are viewed by others not as individuals but as members of a race. He believes that American blacks have patently suffered the most from stigmatization and identifies slavery as the chief cause. Whites for centuries perceived blacks as inferior; blacks themselves acquired thereby a "spoiled collective identity." Loury argues persuasively, though in a dispassionate scholarly manner, for policies based on what he calls "race-egalitarianism over race-blindness." Policymakers and leaders in the media, he says, should endeavor to consider such issues as the plight of the urban black poor and to recognize-and promulgate-the position that such a situation is intolerable in a society like ours. Addressing the sad statistic that approximately1.2 million black men are currently behind bars, he argues that a key question should be: "What manner of people are WE who accept such degradation in our midst?" Loury accepts some of the principles of affirmative action, though he is careful to observe that he neither favors quotas nor wishes to see any individual of any race denied opportunities he or she has earned. Instead, he advocates policies that would "mitigate the economic marginality of members of historically oppressed racial groups." A certain scholarlydiction sometimes results in sentences with words that clang rather than chime, and Loury occasionally relies on such cliches as "[it's] a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have gone." Nonetheless, there's no question that this is a significant, even crucial text gravid with vital ideas. (22 graphs, 7 tables)

Table of Contents
1 Introduction 1
2 Racial Stereotypes 15
3 Racial Stigma 55
4 Racial Justice 109
5 Conclusions 155
Appendix 173
Notes 205
References 215
Index 221