"From Every Shade of Brown and Back; That Includes Black": A Critical Ethnographic Study of Racial-Spatial Politics and Pedagogies at an Urban School
Julio Alicea

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Los Angeles

Primary Discipline

"From Every Shade of Brown and Back; That Includes Black": A Critical Ethnographic Study of Racial-Spatial Politics and Pedagogies at an Urban School In a matter of decades, South Central Los Angeles has transitioned from 80% Black to nearly 70% Latinx. This development is linked to many sociospatial factors, including shifting immigration patterns, political economic restructuring, and Black displacement. My research examines the relationship between such sociospatial forces and the organizational dynamics of one high school in the heart of the community. As a longitudinal ethnography, the project includes participant observation, in-depth interviews, historical analysis, and qualitative spatial methods. The study utilizes data from four consecutive school years to show how one school?s politics and pedagogies evolved over time as racial landscapes changed and new crises emerged to shift organizational priorities. It argues that self-described social justice schools serving exclusively students of color can and still do perpetuate racial stratification; this is most evident in the real tensions that exist between antiracism and the work needed to undo anti-Blackness. Upon its completion, this dissertation will offer myriad contributions to the sociology of education, racial and ethnic studies, and urban studies. In the sociology of education, it offers insights into school-based mechanisms of stratification between racially minoritized groups, including via relational processes of opportunity hoarding and the decoupling of organizational values and practices. In racial and ethnic studies, it reveals the limits of coalitional racial politics before and after George Floyd and the ways in which those limitations shape diversity, equity, and inclusion work at the K-12 level. Lastly, in urban studies, it provides an expanded analysis of racial formation as a regionalized phenomenon.
About Julio Alicea
Julio Angel Alicea is a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Schooling at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the School of Education & Information Studies. Julio?s scholarship is deeply grounded in his lived experience as the son of working class Puerto Rican laborers near Philadelphia and as a former high school teacher at a Title I public school in Rhode Island. As a critical sociologist and ethnographer, his research focuses on the racial-spatial politics of urban schools and other local state organizations. At UCLA, Julio is a member of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society and the recipient of several fellowships and grants, including the Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship, the Graduate Dean?s Scholar Award, and the Shirley Hune Inter-Racial Studies Award. His scholarship has been published in Sociology Compass, Urban Education, and the Handbook of Urban Education, among others. In addition to his doctoral studies at UCLA, Julio is also a Master of Public Policy Candidate (concentration in social policy) at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Prior to coming to UCLA, Julio earned a B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology from Swarthmore College, where he was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and a M.A.T. in Social Studies from Brown University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund (WW-RBF) Fellow. Outside of his research, Julio enjoys teaching and mentoring students, writing for the public, and traveling with his wife and soon-to-be-born son.

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