Children, Race& Power

Gerald Markowitz, Author, David Rosner, With
Gerald Markowitz, Author, David Rosner, With University of Virginia Press $42.5 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8139-1687-3
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In 1946, Northside Testing and Consultation Center was founded to provide mental health care to minority children in upper Manhattan. Under the Clarks, best known for their tests in which black children routinely chose white dolls over black ones (tests cited in Earl Warren's Brown v. Board of Education decision), Northside battled a social service system ""whose primary function... had come to be to rationalize its failure to help Harlem's children."" By the mid-1960s, the Northside mission had changed to include providing its clients and their families with ""an individualized anti-poverty program,"" which increasingly translated into advocacy and aid in negotiating the education and social welfare bureaucracy. While this is an institutional history, complete with details of power struggles and policy disputes, it is more significantly a history of racism, with the Center as a window on racial inequality in the mental health profession, education, housing and social welfare systems. The authors make good use of oral histories, papers and interviews from the Clarks and the Center's staff and board members, thereby animating the book with a sense of personal commitment. This important, informative tribute on the Center's 50th anniversary powerfully reminds us that opportunities for America's inner-city youth have changed little. Photos. (Oct.)
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