Minorities in majority spaces

Ashleigh Cartwright, doctoral candidate in sociology, examines how nonwhite students are selected and prepared to integrate historically white schools.

Several of Ashleigh Cartwright’s seven siblings had to pass through metal detectors before entering their inner city school buildings, which sometimes seemed to house as many police officers as textbooks. A few of her brothers and sisters attended a suburban school with better resources, but they found themselves isolated alongside other Black children in classrooms reserved for lower level students.

Ashleigh Cartwright

Cartwright, on the other hand, took a quiet, hour-long bus ride to a competitive private school. At age 10, she’d been hand-picked by an organization that prepares Black, Latinx, and Native American students to integrate white middle and high schools around the nation.

“On my first day of sixth grade, a bunch of students wanted to touch my hair, which felt alienating,” she remembers. “I understood why I was participating in this program, but at times, the experience could kind of break you.”

Now pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology, Cartwright is applying an academic lens to her experience by analyzing the evolution of the organization that primed her for enrollment in a white school. Founded in 1963, nearly a decade after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling outlawed racial segregation in U.S. schools, the institution continues to work with about 2,000 minority students and 100 “traditionally white” public and private partner schools each year. She is reviewing hundreds of archived files that contain student applications and evaluations to construct a history of the organization’s selection and training processes. She is also observing current organizational employees and participants in action to learn how much, or how little, these processes have changed.

This article is by Karen Brooks. Read more at Omnia