Skip to main content

Cashin's 'Place, Not Race'

Despite the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, today's schools are more segregated than in the past. But if the recent election reveals anything about race relations, it's that we've reached a point where, as Sheryll Cashin writes, "Nothing will get better, then, without reconciliation between sizable numbers of whites and people of color" (110). If we want to establish a true coalition and set of alliances that are working toward progress, everyone needs to feel as if their voices are being heard.

Published in 2014, Cashin's Place, Not Race explores the history and future of affirmative action in the United States, while encouraging changes in policy and strategy to create more opportunities for those in underserved places, which, in turn, will improve outcomes for all races.

I'll share just a few lines that have had me thinking the last few days:

  • "While non-blacks see real and virtual examples of black success every day, they don't see black poverty, because they are removed from the deprivations of ghetto neighborhoods." (xiv)
  • "If whites are to engage with diversity rather than resent it, the rules of competition must be perceived as fair to them and everyone else." (18)
  • "Socioeconomic status is the best predictor of academic success, no matter the measure of achievement." (70)
  • 'A study that examined academic outcomes of students by race and gender at twenty-eight selective colleges found that "the biggest effect in predicting college grades is that associated with high school GPA, whereas the SAT score is nowhere to be found among the strongest predictors."'(73)
  • "Whites who are shut out of the traditional avenue to middle-class status--college--are most disgruntled and susceptible to race-baiting." (105)
Throughout her book, Cashin repeatedly calls attention to structural disadvantages that middle- and low-income families face. If we know, as mentioned, above, that socioeconomic status is the best predictor of academic success, which in turn is one of the best predictors of financial success, then something radical has to be done. 

Cashin mentions in her book that fear of debt is one of the major reasons that many low-income students are not as aggressive in their college search process as they should be. In addition, many elite colleges focus on their "lamp post" areas of recruitment, places where they typically are successful in recruiting large numbers of students and so they normally routine there.

She argues that colleges, in particular, need to do more work to look into places where there might be "hidden gems" or underserved youth. If that happens, if they move beyond where their light is already shining, then opportunities can open for even more students.

This book profoundly changed the way I am thinking about postsecondary education for my students. As a teacher and a mentor, it shaped the advice that I offer and the honest conversations I am having with all of my students, regardless of their race. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Handwritten Cue Cards in the 21st Century

I just stumbled upon this behind-the-scenes clip of Saturday Night Live's cue card process. This is intense writing. This is writing that is dependent upon trust and checks and balances. Over a short period of time, skits are written, drafted on cards, revised, and the cards revised over and over again. I also really love that SNL continues to use cue cards and not a teleprompter. Like Wally points out, technology can fail. Handwritten cue cards ensure the show goes on. Comedy is hard work. Writing is hard work. Changes are made up until the last minute to get things just right. This is a form of real-world writing.

What's your "gap plan"?

Brene Brown introduces the "family gap plan" in the fourth episode of her podcast, Unlocking Us . This came about when she and her husband would argue when she would return home from traveling. It seemed like the minute she walked in, her husband would expect her to be ready for him to "tap out," where she could take over where he had been supporting the family. While she was away from home, this didn't mean that she was full of energy and at 100% the minute she walked in the door. She had been working too and was exhausted. So, over time they began to name where they were at as people and as a family: I'm at 10%. I'm at 30%. They knew they needed a plan for when collectively she and her husband were not at 100%, but they needed to be for their family. Beyond our personal lives, the idea of a "gap plan" got me thinking about our classrooms and schools. What happens when we are not at 100% or we know that our classrooms or students are not

Filling the Hole in Our Heart

I am taking advantage of this time at home to clean my garage and revisit the notebooks that I have kept for years as a teacher. I stumbled upon this piece from a notebook I kept in 2013, the first summer I spent with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. --- For the past four weeks, I have had the opportunity to vent, share, and collaborate with a group of like-minded people. We all had different reasons for getting together and different outcomes, but for me, a sense of community really developed. It isn't often that I feel as if I have a group of people who "get me." But now I know that I do. Maintaining this network of friends is so important to me. It really helped me feel safe in this time of educational insanity. And it has also brought about a renewed sense of purpose. I often tell my students not to put themselves in situations where they give away their power and let others make decisions for them. And while education is under siege, I want to fight again