Book Review: The Anatomy of Racial Inequality with A New Preface by Glenn C. Loury.

AuthorWang, Linda
PositionArticle 5

Loury, Glenn C. The Anatomy of Racial Inequality with A New Preface. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: Harvard University Press, 2021, xxxiii + 228 pages.

First published two decades ago, the second paper edition of The Anatomy of Racial Inequality with A New Preface, by Economist Glenn Loury, is a timely reignition call for America to take on the unabating racial inequality--black inequality in particular--in American society. Through razor-sharp analysis, Loury turns the spotlight squarely on the disheartening reality of black American inequality. He crystalizes negative racial stigma as the ultimate culprit for the persisting black inequality in American society today. To fundamentally remove black inequality, Loury proposes that developmental policies and practices be in place to combat the barriers and stumbling blocks so black Americans have equal opportunities to achieve equality.

Through methodical dissection of how race, racism and racial discrimination have been debated and addressed in American society, Loury asserts that what perpetuates continued black inequality in America today is not so much "discrimination in contract" anymore but rather "discrimination in contact." Structural reforms since the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s have resulted in an overhaul of policy changes that largely removed "discrimination in contract" against any racial groups in the American public arena. Such reform alone, however, has very limited effect on changing the stubbornly negative perceptions towards blacks as a group that was deeply rooted in the history of black slavery. It is this kind of more subtle "discrimination in contact" in the largely informal and personal arena in American society that continues to impede more significant progress towards racial equality for the blacks in America society today.

Built upon well-researched empirical and theoretical analysis of the limitations of the impacts from the structural and policy changes towards racial equality in America since more than half a century ago, Loury concludes that black Americans are held back and color based "racial stigma" is the root cause for the current state of stubborn black inequality in America. Began in the subjugation of Africans to slavery in history, physical traits including skin color of black Americans are shrouded with concrete social meanings connoting to and manifested as a pervasive negative stigma against them in modern America. Socially...

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