Loury and McIntosh


Group Work on Loury:

Abbreviated Questions for Class Discussion of Loury:

Abbreviated Questions for Class Discussion of McIntosh:

Final Question:



Questions on Loury

1.  Loury claims "that racial identity in America is inherently a social and cultural, not simply a biological construct" (70).  Is he right?  If so, what elements of society and culture from your own experience support his statement?

2.  On page 71 (left column) Loury identifies a conflict between "the identity reflexively and stubbornly imputed to [a black person] by others" and that person's "subjective sense of self."  Later he refers to "this dissonance between my self-concept and the socially imputed definition of who I am supposed to be."  Isn't this more than a racial problem?  Don't we all feel this tension?  In what ways do you (whatever race you are) feel that your identity is something other than what external forces dictate?  If you can think of examples, what does that fact tell about the passage in Loury's text?

3.  In your opinion, what does "'living life with integrity'" mean? (71).  He also calls this "living in good faith" (71) versus being an "authentic black person" (72).  Loury has a great insight into this genuineness on page 72 (the passage begins with "After many years..." and continues to the end of the paragraph).  Do you live "surreptitiously" or genuinely?  Do you really have to choose between your "intellectual integrity" and the sense of violation and struggle that Loury once considered "essential to [his] black identity"?

4.  What does it mean to be "genuinely black" in South Carolina in 2006 (72)?  Is this different from enacting "mythic authentic blackness" (72)?

5.  Here is the most important statement in Loury's text:  "Who am I, then?  Foremost, I am a child of God, created in his image, imbued with his spirit, endowed with his gifts, set free by his grace" (73).  These words cut close to the very heart of our course.  What do they mean to you?  In other words, what is the human nature that all persons share regardless of race, gender, class, and other differences?

6.  Authentic, genuine, white-loving, Uncle Tom:  What are the characteristics of these categories of black people that Loury identifies?


Questions on McIntosh

1.  Okay, here we go:  McIntosh asserts that men and whites have certain privileges that women and persons of color do not have.  Do you agree with this statement?  Why or why not?

2.  What are your experiences of male or white privilege?  Can you illustrate some of the 50 things that McIntosh lists?

3.  Meritocracy:  Does this word characterize your experience of America or not?  Or is the truth somewhere in between the presence and the absence of meritocracy?  Does anything in your life illustrate "unearned race advantage and conferred dominance" (79)?  How about unearned advantages in other areas?  Is meritocracy really a "myth," as McIntosh claims on page 79?

4.  McIntosh distinguishes between racism as "individual acts of meanness" and racism as "invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance" (79).  Have you had experiences with either of these?  Do you think that there are other kinds of racism?  How about the kind of racism that characterizes thoughts but does not always manifest outwardly?