Juneteenth speaker Sheryll Cashin, author of “White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality” and other books, spoke to Upper School students on Thursday, February 16, during Black History Month. She talked about “residential caste” and often referenced Dr. Lawrence Brown, who spoke to Gilman students earlier this school year, also as part of the Juneteenth Speaker Series.
She described racial stereotypes that dictated public policies throughout the 20th century, explaining that “Black people were seen as risky and not worthy of investment,” and she pointed out that some of the practices continue today. “Public policies of today disinvest in majority Black spaces and over-invest in majority white spaces,” she said.
What would happen when historical negative perceptions about communities are changed to positive ones? Cashin shared an example of a city in Colombia, South America, that is doing just that. They are investing money in social infrastructure, and they are seeing results: Homicides, poverty, and food insecurity are all down.
Several students asked thought-provoking questions during the Q&A. One junior asked about Cashin's experience clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall in his last year on the Supreme Court. She described the experience as “far and away the best year of my life.” A senior wanted to know what would be most important when making infrastructure investments in high-poverty neighborhoods. Cashin responded that the most important thing “is that the citizens have a voice and representation.”
“The goal of asking both Dr. Brown and Professor Cashin as Juneteenth speakers is twofold. First, we aim to increase awareness of historical issues affecting our beloved Baltimore communities,” said Interim Director of Community, Inclusion, and Equity Joe Valentine-White. “We also aim to bring speakers that empower students with knowledge and understanding that will enable them to make positive contributions to the greater Baltimore community.”
Sheryll Cashin is an author and the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice at Georgetown University. Currently she teaches Constitutional Law, Race and American Law, and a writing seminar about American segregation, education, and opportunity.
Her latest book, “White Space, Black ‘Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality,” is about the role of residential segregation in producing racial inequality. Her book, “Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy,” explores the history and future of interracial intimacy, how white supremacy was constructed and how “culturally dexterous” allies undermine it. Her book, “Place Not Race,” recommended radical reforms of selective college admissions in order to promote robust diversity; it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction in 2015. Her book, “The Failures of Integration,” explored the persistence and consequences of race and class segregation. It was an Editors’ Choice in the New York Times Book Review.