Insight With Beth Ruyak

Hosted By Beth Ruyak

Insight creates conversation to build community, exploring issues and events that connect people in our region. Insight covers breaking news and big ideas, music, arts & culture with responsible journalism, civil discussion and diverse voices.

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Monday, July 29, 2019 Permalink

Segregation In America

Library of Congress

An African-American youth at a segregated drinking fountain in Halifax, North Carolina, in 1938.

Library of Congress

Segregation has taken many forms in the United States, and it continues to show itself today. In this “best of” edition of Insight, we’ll hear from a race historian about several ways in which segregation is codified: in law, in housing and in policies. We'll also discuss where public pressure fits in to change the law, housing regulations and policies. We’ll hear about interracial intimacy and “cultural dexterity,” what whiteness is and how the concept developed and the role of slavery and its aftermath. In the final segment of the show, an author joins us to describe the role the Underground Railroad plays in his 2016 National Book Award winning novel.

'The Color Of Law: A Forgotten History Of How Our Government Segregated America'

In September 2017, Professor Richard Rothstein joined Insight. He’s a Senior Fellow at the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law. At the time of his interview, Rothstein had recently written the book "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America." In a conversation with reporter Cosmo GarvinRothstein described the history of policies that resulted in segregated communities in California and across the United States. Rothstein also addresses what happens when a constitutional right is violated, and where popular support fits in.

'Loving: Interracial Intimacy In America And The Threat To White Supremacy'

Sheryll Cashin is a Georgetown University law professor. She has pioneered a phrase for navigating the changing diversity in the U.S. She calls it "cultural dexterity,” and believes it will increasingly define the country and the people in it. Cashin’s book is “Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy.” In the book, she describes the concept of “whiteness”: what it is and where it came from.  The idea of “whiteness” didn’t exist in the 1600’s, at the time of the original colonies, before the founding of the country. Cashin says that the concept was created to solve a class conflict between wealthy planters and poor, white indentured servants. It had a political function, intended to divide. But in those Colonial Times, she says, there was actually more unity than division.

Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award Winning Novel, 'The Underground Railroad'

Colson Whitehead’s book “The Underground Railroad” isn’t his first, but it’s been talked about a lot. It won The National Book Award in 2016, was a New York Times Number One bestseller and Oprah chose it for her Book Club. The book is about a slave girl, Cora, born on a Georgia plantation, who escapes at age 15. 

Whitehead’s version of the Underground Railroad is different from what many of us learned about in school. In other books, Whitehead has written about zombies, high stakes poker, elevator operations. When he wrote this book, he was actually in the midst of another one. That’s where Whitehead and Insight host Beth Ruyak began their March 2017 conversation. And a quick note, Whitehead’s just-released next book is called “The Nickel Boys.” Based on a true story, it’s about two boys in a reform school during the Jim Crow era in Florida.

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