THE FAILURES OF INTEGRATION: How Race and Class Are Undermining the American Dream

Sheryll Cashin, Author . Public Affairs $26 (416p) ISBN 978-1-58648-124-7

In another of a spate of Brown v. Board of Education 50th anniversary books this season, this compelling book, beyond a lament about Brown 's unfulfilled promise, argues that integrated, multi-class communities are the only fair solution. Cashin, a law professor at Georgetown, reminds us that our enduring segregation is the product of private and public choices, such as exclusionary zoning, federal mortgage insurance and urban redevelopment (which created hyper-segregation in public housing). Cashin sees inevitable costs to middle-class black separatism: African-Americans in suburbia are usually steered to enclaves in the opposite direction of economic growth; when they hit critical mass, whites flee, poorer blacks move in, schools decline and commercial and retail investors steer clear. For whites, the search for suburban privilege also has its costs: higher prices for housing, suburban sprawl and the more intangible incapacity to relate to the "other." High-poverty schools lack both models for success and activist parents, and also breed an oppositional culture—all a prelude to the extraordinary rate of black men in the criminal justice system. Cashin argues that civil rights groups should focus more on attacking housing discrimination and segregation. She also advocates other policies: break up the ghettos (such as via programs that give suburban housing vouchers to those in public housing), offer incentives for ownership in high-poverty neighborhoods, require new developments to have low-income housing and expand school choice and cross-jurisdictional choice. Cashin argues powerfully that such integration is crucial to build democracy and diminish racial barriers: "[T]he rest of society should stop fearing us and ordering themselves in a way that is designed to avoid us where we exist in numbers." Agent, Esther Newberg at ICM. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 391 pages - 978-1-58648-339-5
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