A 2021 C. Wright Mills Award Finalist
Shows how government created “ghettos” and affluent white space and entrenched a system of American residential caste that is the linchpin of US inequality—and issues a call for abolition.
The iconic Black hood, like slavery and Jim Crow, is a peculiar American institution animated by the ideology of white supremacy. Politicians and people of all colors propagated “ghetto” myths to justify racist policies that concentrated poverty in the hood and created high-opportunity white spaces. In White Space, Black Hood, Sheryll Cashin traces the history of anti-Black residential caste—boundary maintenance, opportunity hoarding, and stereotype-driven surveillance—and unpacks its current legacy so we can begin the work to dismantle the structures and policies that undermine Black lives.
Drawing on nearly 2 decades of research in cities including Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland, Cashin traces the processes of residential caste as it relates to housing, policing, schools, and transportation. She contends that geography is now central to American caste. Poverty-free havens and poverty-dense hoods would not exist if the state had not designed, constructed, and maintained this physical racial order.
Cashin calls for abolition of these state-sanctioned processes. The ultimate goal is to change the lens through which society sees residents of poor Black neighborhoods from presumed thug to presumed citizen, and to transform the relationship of the state with these neighborhoods from punitive to caring. She calls for investment in a new infrastructure of opportunity in poor Black neighborhoods, including richly resourced schools and neighborhood centers, public transit, Peacemaker Fellowships, universal basic incomes, housing choice vouchers for residents, and mandatory inclusive housing elsewhere.
Deeply researched and sharply written, White Space, Black Hood is a call to action for repairing what white supremacy still breaks.
Includes historical photos, maps, and charts that illuminate the history of residential segregation as an institution and a tactic of racial oppression.
Wealth, resources, and opportunity are overwhelmingly concentrated in white, affluent U.S. neighborhoods, which have a long history of excluding Black people through racial zoning, redlining, and violence, according to this astute history. Georgetown University law professor Cashin (Loving) explores how these exclusionary practices continue to affect residents of American cities today. The Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore, for instance, suffered after the Home Owners' Loan Corporation gave it a "D" rating in the 1930s. Today, residents don't have access to reliable public transportation, and recent plans to build a new light rail line were shelved by the state's Republican governor, who funneled the money to road projects in "exurban and rural areas" instead. Cashin also details Lyndon Johnson's refusal to heed the recommendations of the 1968 Kerner Commission report on the causes of racial uprisings in Black neighborhoods, and explains how Ronald Reagan used exaggerated claims about welfare fraud to slash the social safety net. Cashin's levelheaded reform suggestions draw from real-world success stories, such as an outreach program in Richmond, Calif., where gun violence plummeted after "violence-prone" young men were given access to therapy, job training, and a monthly stipend. This is a well-researched and persuasive guide to a major source of inequity in the U.S.