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Oakwood's Patty Caruso Discusses Professor Myla Cardona-Jones's "Race and the Law" Class

In conjunction with the “Mapping Equity in Dayton” exhibit on display at Wright Memorial Public Library through the end of September, and the Library's LET’S TALK program on September 13 featuring Professor Myla Cardona-Jones, Healy Jackson and Kate Furmanski interviewed Patty Caruso, a member of the Oakwood Inclusion Coalition, to gain her perspective on what Professor Cardona-Jones might present. Patty Caruso is a long-time Oakwood resident and business owner who took Professor Cardona-Jones’ class titled “Race and the Law" at Sinclair Community College.

Q: When did you take the Race and the Law Class? Why did you take it?

I became aware of the Race and the Law class after visiting the “Undesign the Redline” exhibit at the Dayton Metro Library last fall. I found the exhibit very informative yet also very unsettling. It prompted me to learn more about the background of redlining in the Dayton region and throughout our country. I enrolled in the Race and the Law class at Sinclair Community College to learn more about the subject out of natural interest and the thought that it was also advantageous for my professional development.

Q: As the experiences and perspectives of Americans of color have come to the forefront in recent years, it has become clear to many of us that issues pertaining to race relations remain unresolved. In light of this, do you feel that Professor Cardona-Jones’ class addressed and provided you with context to understand the complexity of race relations in America today?

Race-related issues in our country are complex and many of us don’t know how we got to this point. Even though I am a voracious student of history and earned a degree in history and political science, my prior learning did not include many of the facts I learned from Professor Cardona-Jones. Today I am amazed by the history that, until recently, seemed hidden--the history that didn't appear in my textbooks or wasn't the subject of bestselling history books I read for pleasure. I do think taking this class gives me better context to understand the racial complexity we face today and will face in the future.

Q: What interested or surprised you most about the Race and the Law Class?

I learned how deeply federal legislation enacted by some of our most revered presidents has made redlining and restrictive covenants an integral part of our nation's history. The course provided a data-driven, factual accounting which explains why our country continues to feel the effects of these tactics, which began as recently as the 1930s. They created racial division, socioeconomic division, religious division, and ethnic division which are now woven into our nation's history.

Q: Why would you encourage others to come to hear Professor Cardona-Jones speak at

the library’s LET’S TALK program on September 13?

She’s a dynamic speaker who talks engagingly about topics that mostly only law students learn in the classroom. If we want to move forward as a society, we need to investigate the whole history of our nation - not so we can dwell on old grievances or assign blame, but so we can be honest with each other about our experiences and achieve genuine healing as a nation. Even if you don't think you'll agree with Professor Cardona-Jones's interpretations of history, I would urge everyone to come and listen as an expression of hope that American society can achieve the true unity, peace, and good relations that I think people crave.


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