Since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, racial and ethnic diversity and integration as well as educational equality has become a prominent consideration for American educational policy. While attempts have been made to increase integration, reforms have often fallen short due to residential segregation and choices spurred by parental privilege. These racial and ethnic integration reforms have had effects on individuals and communities; yet, the young people who daily experience these reforms are not having their voices heard. Therefore, this qualitative analysis examines how young people of color perceive and experience a racial and ethnic integration reform, especially with regards to their friendships and peer cultures as these are central to their well-being and happiness. A subsample of 20 young people was selected from a larger qualitative research project. The sample consisted of 10 girls and 10 boys, 15-18 years old, who self-identified as African American, Latino/a, Jamaican American, Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic, or White. These 20 young people attended 18 inter-district and intra-district schools in a Northeastern metropolitan area in the U.S. that is undergoing a racial and ethnic integration educational reform. The findings show that young people’s peer cultures and friendships were often in transition due to an adult-dominated lottery experience. They actively had to navigate differences in race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, which either resulted in positive or negative interactions, depending on the context. Furthermore, young people often employed a good kid/bad kid binary to make meaning of the educational inequalities they witnessed.
Hall, Grace, "The Consequences of ‘Choice’: Experiencing Youth Peer Culture in a Racial and Ethnic Integration School Reform" (2016). Sociology Honors Papers. 7.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.