Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Winner Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Discusses Disparities That Persist in American Life

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Image credit: Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation

The 2021 MacArthur fellowship award recipient explains her childhood experiences, systemic inequities and the reasons why even middle-class Americans often struggle.

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Some awards you can’t apply for — you can’t even find them. Instead, they find you. So it goes with one of America’s most prestigious awards: the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” which distributes $625,000 of no-strings attached money to 20-30 people who are believed to have completed exceptional work in their field. A number of big names across many different industries have been recipients of the award in the past.

We tend to only look at one range of the disparity between Black and white, and not the way that the most rich, wealthy, and powerful in this country have essentially organized the economy and politics to their liking, to their doing, to their benefit.” —Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton University and a 2021 MacArthur Fellow

Some of those people include historian Jared Diamond, novelist Octavia Butler and now, among them, is Princeton University professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Dr. Taylor is an activist, contributing writer to The New Yorker and author of two books, including “Race for Profit,” and “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.”


Listen: The ways government policies and market forces operate together to make some Americans poorer.


Guest

Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an African American Studies professor at Princeton University and contributing writer to The New Yorker. She is a 2021 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

Dr. Taylor says wealth disparities, “in the richest country in the history of the world,” distort American politics, livelihoods and the many ways we interact with one another. “We tend to only look at one range of the disparity between Black and white, and not the way that the most rich, wealthy and powerful in this country have essentially organized the economy and politics to their liking, to their doing, to their benefit,” she says. 

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