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Research Article

Plessy’s Tracks: African American students confronting academic placement in a racially diverse school and African American community

Received 09 Jun 2020, Accepted 16 Apr 2021, Published online: 10 May 2021
 

ABSTRACT

Why are most African American students in lower-track classes in racially diverse schools? How does the nexus of home, school, and community impact African Americans’ academic placement in a racially and economically diverse school district? This research used ethnographic methods to explore 38 African American middle school students’ perceptions and experiences of academic placement in a racially diverse middle school and a segregated and disinvested African American neighborhood. This research introduces the term Plessy’s Tracks to acknowledge the sustained racial caste system that manifests through lower-track classes and devalued homes and communities. Findings suggest students face multiple challenges and systemic inequalities when self-selecting classes. Also, racially segregated homes and communities have shaped racialized tracking while producing Black placemaking in homes, classrooms, and communities.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

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