I study racial socialization, or how kids learn about race and racism within particular racial contexts of childhood. My qualitative research explores how young people make sense of the social world, and what youth think about topics like racism, police violence, educational inequality, current events, politics, and so on. I am currently working on three research projects.
1.) White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America(NYU Press 2018). This book explores how white, affluent children growing up in an urban and suburban Midwestern community learn about race, racism, inequality, and privilege in the context of their white families. Based on a two-year ethnography that included participant observations of families in their everyday lives as well as child-centered interviews with middle-school aged children and interviews with their parents, I explore how the process of white racial socialization unfolds in affluent, white families. This project also contains an ongoing longitudinal element.
2.) Racial Socialization in the Deep South. This project moves the study of white racial socialization in urban and suburban contexts to that of small town and rural Mississippi. Specifically, this study explores white racial socialization in the context of parents opting to send their kids to private schools initially established as segregationist academies. This project examines why parents choose these schools, how children who attend these schools understand the racial history of these schools, how they make sense of racism today, and how the larger context in which they live shapes their ideas about the social world.
3.) Kids on Racism, Politics, and Inequality: From Massachusetts to Mississippi. Given heightened public debate around racism, a highly divisive political landscape, and growing inequality, how are young people growing up in this moment making sense of the world around them? How are they interpreting all that is going on? What are the lived experiences of young people in America today as told by them with respect to racism, politics, and inequality? Drawing on interviews with kids from the two very different social contexts of Mississippi and Massachusetts, I am currently comparing what children in the present moment think about racism, politics, and social inequality in America, how the social context in which children live shapes their perspectives on these topics, and why differences across contexts matter in terms of what kids think about the world and how they experience it.