Applications are now open for the 2024 Braver Angels Convention. Learn More.
Apply now for the 2024 Braver Angels Convention.

Balance & Perspective on Race | John McWhorter and John Wood Jr.


John McWhorter is a professor of linguistics at Columbia University, the author of many books, a witty and passionately independent voice on the subject of American race relations. 

Hear him join John Wood, Jr. of Braver Angels to compare perspectives on the traditional narratives that shape our racial conversation, the post Civil Rights era Black experience, and the ways in which the varieties of experiences in the Black community impact the dialogue on race in the United States. 

(The book on the history of the Crack cocaine epidemic referenced in this conversation is called “Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed” by David Farber)

Twitter: @braverangels@JohnRWoodJr

More to explore

Kelly Corrigan episode

Kelly Corrigan Wonders: Daring to disagree on abortion

In this special guest episode, we’re going to pass the mic to a wonderful podcast, “Kelly Corrigan Wonders,” that recently invited our very own April Lawson to disagree openly and honestly with host Kelly Corrigan about one of the toughest issues out there — abortion.

Their conversation is in-depth, illuminating, and believe it or not — productive. Plus, it puts many of the tools we talk about on “A Braver Way” on full display.

We’re back next week with a new Beat episode, and our first full-length episode of our new season will be up next!

Kelly Corrigan Wonders –

Read More »
A Braver Way - Beat Episode 1

Beat | What if election years were wonderful?

We’re back! To kick off our second season, we’re bringing you a totally radical — and totally possible — vision of what election years could look like if we approached them a little differently. First we hear from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox about how election campaigns could leave our communities better off, regardless of the results. Then Mónica reflects on Return Day, a unique election tradition in Delaware that’s been putting these ideals into practice since 1812.

Read More »

2 thoughts on “Balance & Perspective on Race | John McWhorter and John Wood Jr.”

  1. As a sociologist, I would ask you to consider the culture of poverty and the concept of a lack of social capital as the root of our nation’s poor (not just people of color) population’s problems. This does not dismiss racism. I do believe that the culture of poverty and lack of social capital trumps all other problems.
    On the other point your guest brought up, the idea that drugs should be decriminalized is a bad mistake that our nation made late in the 19th and early 20th century. The reason hard drugs were criminalized is because of the death rate. Take a look at that. The answer is not legalizing drugs. The legalization of marijuana is turning out to be a bad idea.

  2. Erica Etelson

    Having listened to and read quite a bit of JM’s work, I will say that he’s begun to crack open my anti-racist ideology a little bit, though I do still have some major points of disagreement. In this podcast, I appreciated hearing JM explicitly reject the “bootstraps” rhetoric that he sometimes seems to concur with when in dialogue with Glenn Loury. I also appreciated JW’s recognition of the problem with a system in which only a handful of exceptional people are able to overcome adversity.

    Questions for JM maybe for next time: What happened in Indianapolis after 1979? (It sounds like his research may have ended in 1979). Did factory closures in the 1980s play a role in increased poverty and crime and the prevalence of what he calls “corner men?” And what doe he see in the history of other cities — did the explosion of black poverty precede or follow factory closures?

    Also, could you delve more into JM’s assertion that police shootings have nothing to do with racism? Specifically, what does he think the reason is that unarmed black suspects are 3.6 times more likely to be shot than unarmed white suspects? ( I’ve heard JM say that black people get shot more often by police b/c they commit more crime. The apples-to-apples statisitic I just cited makes me think that racism is at play and I’d like to hear JM’s thoughts on this.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Braver Angels Support