Race & Class: An Intergenerational Study of Privileged African Americans Educated in Predominantly White and Integrated Suburban Schools
AuthorDavis Welch, JerMara Camille
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation sought to better understand the K-12 school experiences of middle and upper income Blacks educated in predominantly White and integrated suburban school systems. Through the narratives of six (6) participants—four females and two males (split evenly between Generations Y and Z)—the study contributes toward knowledge on African American within-group differences and perspectives on K-12 school experiences. The theoretical frames of social location and trust were used to help guide this investigation. Through social location, I sought to understand the interconnectedness of one's race, class, and gender and how these locations impact school experiences. Through the theoretical frame of trust, I sought to understand "overall" participant confidence in the educational processes (academic and social) they underwent. While findings from this dissertation matched some of what is already well-documented on the K-12 school experiences of Black American students in general, by focusing on within-group differences relevant to class and generational grouping, key variances in experiences (not often reported) were revealed. For example, as the study was intergenerational in scope, there was a clear generational divide among study participants in terms of their views relating to how race impacted their K-12 school experiences. Despite the fact that most felt that their schools were not sensitive to their needs as African Americans, race seemed to be less of a concern with Gen Z'ers than with Gen Y'ers. More specifically, while participants from Generation Y were explicit in stating that race had an impact on their school experiences, Generation Z was hesitant to say that race influenced their experiences. Interestingly, as all participants dealt with racial stereotyping, the biggest perpetrators of such stereotypes were peers and not educators. The influence of socioeconomic class on school experiences was also significant as most participants felt that their economic status influenced their cross-cultural interactions. In addition, while the social location of gender was not heavily emphasized in this dissertation, there were variations in perspectives stratified across gender lines. Taken together, a major conclusion was that one's social location (inclusive of generational grouping) cannot be ignored when taking into account the academic experiences of African American students as a whole. Finally, this dissertation highlighted the overall confidence each participant had in the educational process they experienced (academically and socially). Although all encountered some tough circumstances directly related to their social location, everyone felt positive overall about their school experiences—perceiving the academic training they received and inter-ethnic social interactions, as an asset.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Teaching & Teacher Education