DeMarcus Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Practices is the principal investigator on a new project supported by the Smith Jr. Faculty Award which explores Black students experiences in predominately Latinx schools. Students are constantly bombarded with messages about race and other aspect of their identity (e.g. socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and many others) from a variety of sources including peers, adults, academic curriculum, extracurricular activities and other social interactions. These messages inform students’ attitudes and beliefs about who they are and who they can be in school and society. Cultivating spaces where those messages, values and perceptions about race in schools can be unpacked and explored can be essential to helping Black students resist internalizing negative perspectives about themselves and their ability. As such, affinity groups have the potential to help students make-meaning of the multiple race-related messages they receive in school. Affinity spaces are an effective means through which students can explore and confront aspects of their identity through collective sense-making with their peers.
The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of a single-race and single-gendered affinity space on Black male students’ perceptions about their raced and academic identities. This study is guided by the following research question: “How does participating in an affinity space (re)shape the racial and academic identity of Black males at a predominately Latinx high school?” Because Black students who attend majority Latinx schools are constantly navigating messages about race, identity and achievement that are transmitted by their peers and adults and have consequences for how Black students come to understand their place in school and society participation in affinity spaces might offset students’ internalizing negative messages ultimately leading to high academic outcomes.