Dialogues with Richard Reeves
Sheryll Cashin on white spaces and Black hoods

Sheryll Cashin on white spaces and Black hoods

October 25, 2021

“Residential segregation not only affects opportunity, it alters politics”. That’s one of the claims of my guest today, Georgetown scholar Sheryll Cashin. In this episode, we discuss Cashin’s new book, titled White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality. She describes her own upbringing as a daughter of civil rights activists and how this has animated her own work; how affluent white spaces are not only separate to low-poverty areas, but require them; the group of people she calls Descendants, whose ancestors were enslaved, and who live today in low-opportunity spaces; and what it means for white people to have “cultural dexterity”. We end up talking about what love has to do with pretty much all of this. 

 

Sheryll Cashin

Sheryll Cashin is a Professor of Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice at Georgetown University working on topics including race relations and inequality in the United States. She is the author of several books and numerous articles including commentary for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and is currently serving as a contributing editor to Politico. Cashin is also a board member of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. Previously, she was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and worked in the Clinton administration as an advisor on urban and economic policy. 

 

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Also mentioned

 

The Dialogues Team 

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

Nick Gillespie on canceling yourself

Nick Gillespie on canceling yourself

October 18, 2021

What does “cancel culture” really mean, and how big a problem is it? Nick Gillespie, editor at large at Reason, has given these questions more thought than most. Nick is one of the leading lights of libertarian public intellectual life, and just wrote an essay, “Self-Cancellation, Deplatforming, and Censorship” that we dig into here. Nick is worried about the shift towards censorship in politics, in our organizations, including corporations, and in our own lives. We differ on whether the problem is more personal or political, but in the end we do agree that a healthy liberal culture is one that welcomes a robust exchange of diverse views. Along the way, we get into Nick’s particular beef with Facebook, some similarities in our backgrounds as journalists, and how his view of the world has some Marxist traces. 

Nick Gillespie

Nick is an editor at large at Reason, the libertarian magazine and host of The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie. “Nick Gillespie is to libertarianism what Lou Reed is to rock ‘n’ roll, the quintessence of its outlaw spirit,” wrote Robert Draper in The New York Times Magazine.

A two-time finalist for digital National Magazine Awards, Nick is co-author, with Matt Welch, of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America (2012).

More Gillespie 

Also mentioned

The Dialogues Team 

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

Kathryn Paige Harden on genetic egalitarianism

Kathryn Paige Harden on genetic egalitarianism

October 11, 2021

What have genes got to do with inequality? It’s a thorny question. But it one that Kathryn Paige Harden squarely addresses in her book and in this episode of Dialogues. She explains the new science of genetics and how it can help understand outcomes like college completion. Along the way we discuss the importance of the disability rights movement, the nature of meritocracy, what luck has to do with it, designer babies, regional inequality, and how one byproduct of her Christian upbringing is an appreciation for the unique and equal value of every person. 

Kathryn Paige Harden

Kathryn Paige Harden is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, where she directs the Developmental Behavior Genetics lab and co-directs the Texas Twin Project. Harden is also a fellow at the Jacobs Foundation. Having received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia, her work has focused on genetic influences on complex human behavior, including child cognitive development, academic achievement, risk-taking, mental health, sexual activity, and childbearing. 

More Harden

  • Her thought-provoking new book, The Genetic Lottery, can be purchased here
  • Harden’s previous New York Times op-ed is a great starting place for learning more on this topic. 
  • Read her recent profile in the New Yorker, “Can Progressives Be Convinced That Genetics Matters?”
  • For more, check out her website and follow her on twitter: @kph3k

Also mentioned

The Dialogues Team 

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

Evan Osnos on America‘s fire and fury

Evan Osnos on America‘s fire and fury

October 4, 2021

What made America into a tinderbox, ready for Donald Trump's spark? That's the question Evan Osnos, staff writer for the New Yorker, set out to answer in his book Wildland: The Making of America's Fury. Having lived overseas for many years, mostly in China, Evan returned to the U.S. in 2013 and felt something of a stranger in his own land. The events of the next few years added to this sense. So he set out to find out what had happened to make his home country feel so foreign, by returning to the places he knew best: Greenwich CT, where he grew up, Clarksburg WV where he started his reporting career, and Chicago where he covered city politics for the Tribune. The book is already a bestseller and being heaped with critical acclaim. The story is of a country that was ever more divided by class and geography and politics, but ever more connected by the ties of the modern economy. Evan and I talk about the financialization of the economy, and the transformation of the culture of his home town of Greenwich into the hedge fund capital of the country; the battles over the coal industry; the rise of Trump; the potential for Joe Biden to bring the nation back together; the cleavages of race and wealth in cities like Chicago. Although he is worried about what he calls the "seclusion of mind" of many of America's tribes, Evan ends on an optimistic note: that the pandemic has shown that whether we like it or not, we're all in together.

Evan Osnos

Evan Osnos is a staff writer for the New Yorker, contributor to CNN, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution covering politics and foreign affairs. A graduate of Harvard, Osnos started his journalism career in West Virginia and Chicago, before being stationed in the Middle East to report on the Iraq War. He then moved to Beijing for eight years and wrote, “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China” which won the National Book Award. He now lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children. 

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Also mentioned

The Dialogues Team

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

 

Erika Bachiochi on sex, equality and abortion

Erika Bachiochi on sex, equality and abortion

September 27, 2021

Should feminists be pro-life? Should conservatives support more welfare for families? Who is Mary Wollstonecraft? What did RBG get right and wrong? I dug into these questions with my guest today, the legal scholar Erika Bachiochi. Our discussion centers on Erika’s new book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, which argues for a form of feminism that takes into account natural differences between men and women, especially in what she calls “reproductive asymmetry” i.e. that having sex and having children carry different implications for men and women. We talk about her journey from a Bernie Sanders supporting kind of feminist to a Roman Catholic kind of feminist, including a strong pro-life moral basis. Her intellectual heroine is the 18th century thinker Mary Wollstonecraft, who had a feminist vision that was about the equal pursuit of the good, which Erika John Stuart Mill’s feminism based on a perfect equality. 

We talk about what Ruth Bader Ginsburg got right and wrong, whether conservatives should be supporting President Biden’s big pro-family welfare expansions, the Texas abortion law, family-friendly policy, and much more. 

I should say that at the very beginning Erika candidly describes her troubled childhood and early adulthood, which in her darkest hours ever led her to thoughts of suicide.

Erika Bachiochi 

Erika Bachiochi is a legal scholar specializing in Equal Protection jurisprudence, feminist legal theory, Catholic social teaching, and sexual ethics. She studied at Middlebury College and got her law degree from Boston University. Erika is now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute, where she directs the Wollstonecraft Project. She lives in Boston with her husband and seven children. 

More Bachiochi 

Also mentioned 

  • Bachiochi quited Mill in On Liberty: “misplaced notions of liberty prevent moral obligations on the part of parents from being recognized, and legal obligations from being imposed”
  • She also quoted Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: “A truly benevolent legislator always endeavours to make it the interest of each individual to be virtuous; and thus private virtue becoming the cement of public happiness, an orderly whole is consolidated by the tendency of all the parts towards a common center” 
  • We referenced my work on the economic and social status of American women. 
  • We discussed the work of my colleague, Isabel Sawhill, and her book Generation Unbound 
  • I referenced Scott Winship’s work on the dynamics of marriage and childrearing 
  • Bachiochi spoke about Mary Ann Glendon, a leading thinker in this space and a professor at Harvard Law. 
  • She also referenced Joan Williams’ op-ed in the New York Times, titled The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe
  • I quoted Margaret Mead who wrote, “We won’t get equality between groups by ignoring the differences between them.” 
  • Earlier this summer, Josh Hawley tweeted that he was against including women in the draft because he didn’t want to “force [service] upon our daughters, sisters, and wives.”
  • We mentioned Heather Boushey who currently serves on the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and her work on family policy, for example in her Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict (2016).
  • The Mary Wollstonecraft twitter account I referred to seems to have gone quiet lately. As an alternative. As a replacement may I suggest: https://twitter.com/womenpostingws

The Dialogues Team

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

Emily Oster on COVID, kids and parenting

Emily Oster on COVID, kids and parenting

August 16, 2021

How should we approach decisions about children, especially our own? That's the question that motivates my guest today, Emily Oster. She is a Professor of Economics at Brown University and currently a visiting Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Through her books and newsletter, Emily has become something of a data guru to many parents confused by the torrent of conflicting advice and "studies show" headlines; she describes her work as "part memoir, part meta-analysis" 

We talk about Emily's new book, “The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years”; how to go about decisions such as bedtimes, extracurricular activities, and of course, when to buy your child a phone. We spend some time on how to evaluate risks, opportunity costs and counterfactuals in the parenting enterprise, and in particular the trade-offs between risk and independence. We also discuss her recent work on the impact of COVID on children and education; Emily has assembled a unique dataset on this question, and became a strong advocate on the need to return quickly to in-person learning, not just for or even mainly for education reasons, but for mental health ones. 

I found this a thoroughly stimulating and enjoyable conversation - my only regret is that I wasn't able to read Oster's work when my own kids were younger! One of the things I like is the way she explodes lots of myths about the impact of various decisions on your children; which has the effect of lowering the stakes, and hopefully giving parents the chance to relax just a bit. 

Emily Oster

Emily Oster is a Professor of Economics at Brown University and currently a visiting Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Previously, she held a position at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Her expertise is wide ranging, but is best known for her work on the economics of family and parenting. Oster’s newest book, along with her book Cribsheet, are New York Times bestsellers, not least because of her expert ability to translate economic data to the public. 

More Oster: 

Also mentioned

The Dialogues Team

Creator & host: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

David Brooks on how the elite broke America

David Brooks on how the elite broke America

August 9, 2021

Who broke America? Quite likely, you did. David Brooks, my guest today, describes how the new elite, the "bobos" as he once labelled them (bourgeois bohemians) have created a hereditary meritocracy, failed the leadership test, condescended to the less successful, and actively contributed to inequality and segregation. We talk about what class means today, why David now thinks economics is more important than he did, his advice for both the Democrats and the Republicans, the culture wars, and much more. We end with a discussion of his work on a new book on the importance of social recognition, of being seen. 

David Brooks

David Brooks is a prominent social and cultural commentator writing regularly for the New York Times and the Atlantic, and previously for the Wall Street Journal. He also appears on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” to discuss politics and culture. Brooks teaches at Yale University and belongs to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

More Brooks

Also Mentioned

  • We chatted about my book, Dream Hoarders.
  • We mentioned several scholars who work on social and/or economic inequality, including:
    • Robert Putnam, specifically referring to his work on extracurricular activities. 
    • Raj Chetty and how geography plays a role in mobility. 
    • Sean Reardon, specifically his point that racial diversity is more common than class diversity.
    • Richard Fording and his work on occupational segregation.
  • We also mentioned Jonathan Rauch and his work on the cognitive regime - which you can learn more about in this episode of my podcast. 
  • Brooks mentioned the book “Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul's School” written by Shamus Rahman Khan.
  • We discussed Brooks’ infamous deli meat anecdote in his 2017 piece “How We Are Ruining America
  • Brooks referred to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist who studied power dynamics and the importance of cultural capital, linguistic capital, symbolic capital, and more.  
  • I mentioned Michelle Margolis’ research on religion and politics, which you can learn more about in her book “From Politics to the Pews.” 
  • I also referred to the book “The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class”, written by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett. 
  • Brooks mentioned Ibram Kendi.
  • Brooks referred to this scene in Good Will Hunting (specifically starting at minute 3:06)
  • I mentioned Michael Young’s pivotal book “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” which I’ve spoken about previously here
  • My previous work on respect, including this Brookings essay, has focused heavily on the importance of eye contact as an assertion of civic and moral equality. 
  • I cited Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence, in which he wrote “we hold these truths to be sacred.”

The Dialogues Team

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

 

Tyler Stovall on white freedom

Tyler Stovall on white freedom

July 26, 2021

“To be free is to be white, and to be white is to be free. In this reading, therefore, freedom and race are not just enemies but also allies”. That’s my guest today, the historian Tyler Stovall on the idea that animates his new book White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea. It was an idea, Tyler says, that “kept him awake at night”. We talk about whether the most important racial line is between white and others, or between Black and others; the startling true history of the Statue of Liberty (“the world’s most prominent example of the racialization of modern ideas of freedom”, Tyler says); the controversy surrounding the 1619 Project and specifically the extent to which retaining slavery motivated some of the colonies in the War; the fight over school integration; the use of reason and rationality as gatekeepers to enlightenment ideas of liberalism; the decolonization movement; and the fights over both voting rights and Critical Race Theory; and much more besides. It’s a topical conversation but also one that reaches across history. I found this a stimulating and challenging conversation.

Tyler Stovall

Dr. Tyler Stovall is a lauded historian of modern and twentieth-century France, with a specialization in transnational history, labor, colonialism, and race. His work has covered topics ranging from the suburbs of Paris to Black American expatriates in France and the French Caribbean. He has written numerous books, including the widely-popular “Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light.” This summer, Stovall was appointed as the Dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he was the Dean of Humanities at UC-Santa Cruz and served as the President of the American Historical Association from 2017 to 2018. Stovall currently lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Dr. Denise Herd. 

More Stovall

  • In this episode, we discussed Stovall’s new and thought-provoking book “White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea
  • He recently wrote an article in The Nation titled “Liberty’s Discontents
  • While serving as President of American Historical Association, Stovall gave an address on “White Freedom and the Lady of Liberty”. You can watch it here

Also mentioned 

  • Stovall mentioned the book “Men on Horseback”, written  by David Bell 
  • We discussed the iconography of the broken chain on the Statue of Liberty 
  • The hat that was given to former slaves in Ancient Rome is known as a ‘Pileus’ 
  • Stovall referred to the famous painting by Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People
  • We discussed the New York Times 1619 project which you can learn more about here
  • Stovall mentioned Crispus Attucks, an African American man killed during the Boston Massacre and believed to be the first casualty of the American Revolution. 
  • Here’s a clip of The Allman Brothers Band performing their song ‘Whipping Post’  
  • We discussed Phyllis Schlafly and her role in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment
  • In On Liberty, J.S. Mill wrote that “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” (p. 19) 
  • After WWI ended, Black American soldiers returned home to a violently racist society and were threatened with increasing riots, lynchings, and additional brutality. 
  • Stovall mentioned Julius Nyerere, the former President of Tanzania. 
  • A man in Texas, after waiting in line for hours, now faces a 40-year sentence for voting while on parole. 
  • I referenced Amartya Sen on the concept of meritocracy and its central conflict of who gets to define merit. Read more of his work on this topic here.  
  • In his book, “Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?”, John W. Gardner writes, “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

The Dialogues Team

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

Carole Hooven on testosterone and masculinity

Carole Hooven on testosterone and masculinity

July 19, 2021

What makes a man? My guest, Harvard evolutionary biologist Carole Hooven, has a one-word answer: testosterone. She is the author of the new book T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us. Carole describes her own difficult educational journey, her own suffering as a result of male behavior; how an obsession with human behavior led her to the a chimpanzee colony in the jungles of Uganda; and ultimately to a focus on testosterone in explaining not only physical but psychological differences between men and women, especially in terms of aggression, sex drive and status-seeking. Carole talks about how the debate over sex differences has become over-politicized, leading to bad science. As you’ll hear, one of my takeaways from Hooven’s reality-based approach is that it makes culture even more important, not less. We end with a discussion about the importance of not pathologizing the male desire for sex. This episode gets quite personal at times, which seems appropriate given the subject. 

 

Carole Hooven

 

Carole Hooven teaches in and co-directs the undergraduate program in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She earned her BA in psychology from Antioch College in 1988 and her PhD at Harvard in 2004, researching sex differences and testosterone, and has taught there ever since. She has received numerous teaching awards, and her Hormones and Behavior class was named one of the Harvard Crimson's "top ten tried and true."

Carole lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband Alex, son Griffin and cat Lola. She loves watching birds, running and biking, Belgian beer, salty snacks and freedom of speech.

She tweets from @hoovlet and has a website: http://www.carolehooven.com

More Hooven

Also mentioned 

The Dialogues Team

Creator & Host: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

John Gray on why cats are wiser than philosophers

John Gray on why cats are wiser than philosophers

July 12, 2021

"I do not believe the United States can now claim to be a liberal political culture". That's just one of the big claims made by the philosopher John Gray during our wide-ranging discussion of the history of philosophy, liberalism - and of course, cats.

John does not think liberalism has “gone astray”; he thinks it contains the seeds of its own destruction from the beginning. We argue about this first, before turning to his new book Feline Philosophy, which I see as a natural extension of his earlier work. 

Gray points out that "cats are happy being themselves, while humans try to be happy by escaping themselves." Inspired in part by observations of the life and death of his own cat, Julian, Gray urges us to pursue a cat-like ethical position. This means abandoning the search for meaning outside of ourselves, and instead seeking to live in a way that aligns with our own nature.

Here Gray suggests we can draw on Taoism, Spinoza and other strands of thought. Self-consciousness and a fear of death have cursed humans with the need to make a story of our lives, rather than to simply live it.Our goal should not be to create ourselves through projects, he argues, so much as to realize our own nature, and live by it. Philosophy is not the answer, says this philosopher. "Posing as a cure," Gray says, "philosophy is a symptom of the disorder it pretends to remedy".

Along the way, John and I discuss the rise of what he calls "hyper-liberalism"; the impact of 1989; Joseph Conrad; the Genesis myth; American libertarianism, the impact of the lockdown on our our ability to distract ourselves, liberalism foundations in Christianity; life after Covid; and of course, our cats - Julian (his) and Cookie (mine).

 

John Gray

John is one of the leading and one of the most provocative philosophers of our age, having retired from his position as School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Gray is a prolific contributor to and reviewer for the The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman.

 

Works 

Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life (2020)

Two faces of On Liberty” (2020)

Mill on liberty: a defence (1983, 1996)

"The crisis is a turning point in history", New Statesman, 23 April 2020

The problem of hyper-liberalism”, TLS, 30 March, 2018

Postliberalism: Studies in Political Thought (1993)

Two Faces of Liberalism (2000)

Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings (2009)

False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998)

 

The Dialogues Team

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

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