an empty classroom with rows of desks

Cruel Classroom

May 2, 2022 | Campus Connections, Spring 2022

Black and immigrant girls of color often face indifference and even cruelty in the classroom, according to newly published research by Ranita Ray, associate professor of Sociology at UNM.

Ray is currently working on a book and several articles based on four years of ethnography within a range of educational institutions in the Southwest. She spent two to three days a week for three years in two predominantly economically marginalized and racially minoritized schools and found that while racially marginalized girls may have made academic gains, school is nevertheless a hostile institution for them. Black and immigrant girls of color experienced gendered racial harassment, erasure of intellect and estrangement within their communities. The girls’ experience included the verbal abuse by teachers, most of whom were white.

“For Black and recent immigrant girls of color the classroom is a psychologically traumatizing, alienating and emotionally violent place where they face gendered-racial harassment from teachers, their intellectual contributions are erased, and they become estranged from their communities inside schools,” Ray said.

Ray believes that having more Black, Indigenous, brown and queer teachers “is the urgent resolution, but we also need to keep in mind the historical and contemporary role of schools as oppressive institutions.”

The article will be published in the journal Gender & Society. The book will be based on the larger study.

Spring 2022 Mirage Magazine Features


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