Cashin Addresses Race and Segregation

July 29, 2015 —

In the past year, America has witnessed heartrending tragedies from Ferguson to Baltimore, Cleveland to Charleston, and now, the death of Sandra Bland in Texas. One way to view the problems is through the lens of segregation, which can be fostered by practices deemed illegal under the Fair Housing Act — real estate agents who steer clients away from certain neighborhoods based on race or mortgage lenders who consider race over income when deciding to make a loan.

“One thing I know from my work — and I’ve been writing about this race and class segregation all of my academic life, which is 19 years now — is the enduringness of these structures of segregation,” said Professor Sheryll Cashin, who introduced Building One America’s third biennial Summit for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions, held at the Law Center July 23-24. 

Cashin noted that only 42 percent of all Americans today live in a middle class neighborhood, down from 65 percent in 1970.  The worst segregation occurs in areas of “concentrated black poverty,” which receive few opportunities in terms of businesses and jobs. “Enduringness of these structures is what we ultimately face in trying to create fairness and inclusion and broad opportunity for everyone.” 

University of Minnesota Law School Professor Myron Orfield examined the state of America’s suburbs, and his findings were then discussed by such civil rights and community leaders as Dwayne James, a councilman for the City of Ferguson. Day Two featured a series of policy workshops on education, water, housing and transportation as well as a panel featuring officials from the White House, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dean William M. Treanor said that Georgetown Law is proud to serve as a meeting place for ideas that can make difference in the world, noting that the school has sponsored discussions on Ferguson and Baltimore and will continue to do so in the coming year. The discussions “will enable our students to comprehend how race and segregation operate,” he said, and what society must do to make our world a better place. 

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