Black Lives, Too, Matter in Schools: An Exploration of Symbolic Violence Against Black Youth in America's Schools

Justin A Coles


Urban educators often focus their attention on the violence of inner-city neighborhoods causing them to ignore the urban school as a violent institution—positioning it as a safe haven, both physically and emotionally. However, in order to build ways to effectively respond to violence in schools, urban educators must begin to reflect on the history of these institutions and the current ways in which they subjugate and marginalize Black children. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews with Black, high school students, the author investigated the presence of symbolic violence in their schooling experiences and the impact it has on their social and academic identities. The author uses Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the guiding theoretical and methodological framework. Highlighting the gentle and imperceptible nature of symbolic violence, it was discovered that their schooling experiences are laced with undertones of invisible, yet violent attacks.

Keywords: symbolic violence, critical race theory, African-American education Prospective Contributor: Justin A. Coles (Michigan State University)

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