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‘Our Americanness is much more important than our blackness’: Professor Glenn Loury

Glenn Loury, a professor at Brown University, defended “unabashed black patriotism” and other “unspeakable truths” in an essay for the Jan. 2022 issue of First Things.

Loury wrote the piece based on a speech he delivered at the 2021 National Conservativism Conference.

“I am a patriot who loves his country,” Loury said.

He acknowledged the persistence of racial inequity, but denied that racism alone can explain it. In order to “stay in touch with reality” and avoid misinterpreting social problems, Americans need to consider other factors. Even more, viewing racism as the only source of American problems such as police killings contributes to social division.

“The right idea here,” he argued, “is the ethic of transracial humanism propounded by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.”

“We, as citizens of this great republic, must strive to transcend racial particularism and stress the universality of our humanity and the commonality of our interests as Americans…By contrast, those who promote anti-whiteness (as Black Lives Matter activists do) will reap what they sow, in a backlash of pro-whiteness.”

Loury went on to urge his fellow black Americans to view the American dream as their birthright.

He stressed the emergence of a black American middle class and the comparative wealth of black Americans compared to other groups throughout the world. He called out wokeness as denial of the reality of black opportunity and progress:

“The very fact that the cultural barons and elites of America…have bought into woke racialism gives the lie to the notion that the American Dream doesn’t apply to blacks. It most certainly and emphatically applies. To deny this is to tell our children a lie, a lie that robs black people of agency and self-­determination.”

“Our Americanness is much more important than our blackness,” he said.

Black Americans should take pride in their country and in their Western cultural inheritance, Loury said, to which we owe crucial ideas about human rights and the rule of law. Inspired by these ideals, America accomplished the greatest transformation of the status of enslaved people in history:

“Emancipation, the freeing of slaves en masse as the result of a movement for abolition—that was a new idea. It was a Western idea, brought to fruition in our own United States of America.”

Read the full essay here.

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