The Culture Trap: Ethnic Expectations and Unequal Schooling for Black Youth (Paperback)
In The Culture Trap, Derron Wallace argues that the overreliance on culture to explain Black students' achievement and behavior in schools is a trap that undermines the historical factors and institutional processes that shape how Black students experience schooling. This trap is consequential for a host of racial and ethnic minority youth in schools, including Black Caribbean young people in London and New York City. Since the 1920s, Black Caribbeans in New York have been considered a high-achieving Black model minority. Conversely, since the 1950s, Black Caribbeans in London have been regarded as a chronically underachieving minority. In both contexts, however, it is often suggested that Caribbean culture informs their status, whether as a celebrated minority in the US or as a demoted minority in Britain. Drawing on rich observations, interviews and archives in London and New York City schools, Wallace suggests that the use of culture to justify Black Caribbean students' achievement obscures the very real ways that school structures, institutional processes, and colonial conditions influence the racial, gender, and class inequalities minority youth experience in schools. Wallace reveals how culture is at times used as an alibi for racism in schools, and points out what educators, parents, and students can do to change the beliefs and practices that reinforce racism.
Derron Wallace is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Education at Brandeis University, and Research Associate at the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester. He is a cultural sociologist of race, ethnicity, and education. His research and teaching interests are concerned with the analysis and amelioration of structural and cultural inequalities that shape schooling in the United States, Britain, the Caribbean, and around the world.