Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, Created Equal

Created Equal: Eddie Glaude Unpacks the Racism in American Exceptionalism

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Image credit: Meta Stange/WDET

“We just have to be better and in order to do that we have to tell the truth about what we have done and where we have been,” says Glaude on the history of racism in America.

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Season Three of the podcast Created Equal explores “Writers on Race: From Ralph Ellison to Colson Whitehead,” and features some of the most important voices in literature as well as the national conversation on racial inequities. 

The conversations were conducted on the radio program, Detroit Today, in the WDET studios on Wayne State University’s campus throughout the pandemic and civil unrest of 2020. Each episode consists of a conversation between Henderson and one writer exploring the role of their work in the conversation about race in America. 


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Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Episode 11 Guest: Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.

He is also the author of a new book about the life and writing of James Baldwin titled “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.”


Discussion Points:

On the construction of whiteness as America’s original sin:
“…the problem isn’t us, that America’s original sin isn’t slavery, or it isn’t the genocide of Native People, America’s original sin is the price of the ticket to become American and that is to become white. So, whiteness is this idea, or it contains this idea, that some lives ought to be valued more than others and it’s precisely that belief that leads to the devaluing and disregarding of other lives.”

On how American exceptionalism stalls progress:
“The efficiency of American exceptionalism as an ideology, it allows us to contain our ugliness, to always narrate it in terms of the inevitable progress toward a more perfect union. So, the American ideology consistently allows us to let ourselves off the hook. So, the question is a perennial question of ‘is this America?’ because of that aspirational claim that is built into the very self-understanding of who we are as Americans… if we’re already the shining city on a hill, if we’re the redeemer nation, an example of democracy achieved, then the idea of a more perfect union involves in some ways our ongoing march to perfection… and so in that sense, America’s special charge protects us from the actual evidence to suggest otherwise, and so part of what we have to do is deconstruct this exceptionalism.”


Created Equal Season 3 is supported by the Michigan School of Psychology

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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