The Dream Revisited
Discussion 5: Place-Based Affirmative Action

Discussion 5: Place-Based Affirmative Action

July 2014

The fifth discussion explores proposals to re-imagine affirmative action by focusing on neighborhood disadvantage instead of race.


  • Place Not Race: Reforming Affirmative Action to Redress Neighborhood Inequality

    by Sheryll Cashin

    Those blessed to come of age in poverty-free havens have access to highly selective K-12 education that sets them up well to enter selective higher education. Those who live outside of advantaged neighborhoods and networks -- as do most African-American and Latino children -- must overcome serious structural disadvantages, including under-resourced schools with less experienced teachers, fewer high-achieving peers that raise expectations and model the habits of success, and exposure to violence.Place locks in advantages and disadvantages that are reinforced over time. Geographic separation of the classes puts affluent, higher opportunity communities in direct competition with lower-opportunity places for finite public and private resources. And affluent jurisdictions are winning.


  • Reforming Affirmative Action at Universities Misses Deeper Problem

    by George Galster

    I fundamentally agree with the motivation for Prof. Cashin's critique and the logic of her proposed solution.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that her proposal would do much about the fundamental sources of economic inequality across racial lines, which are the inadequacies of the primary and secondary school systems that most Latino and African American students attend.

  • Race and Place

    by Gerald Torres

    There has to be a new way to approach how our social places are constructed. Where we are from and where we are going are places constructed by law, too. We have to imagine them as a sources of change that facilitate the creation of a political space that can be open to the possibility of democratic richness and where the promise of an open future can take root.

  • Keeping the American Federal State Active: The Imperative of ‘Race-Sensitive’ Policy

    by Desmond King

    Sherryll Cashin's proposal is an imaginative attempt to find a political space between the partisan and policy divisions represented in color-blind and race conscious frameworks, and this sort of pragmatic engagement is to be welcomed. The issue it leaves us to consider however is how to deal with the structural and political forces producing the conditions of segregation which make such middle way schemes necessary in the first place. 

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