Suburban Black Lives Matter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the range of experiences and meanings of Black life in suburban space. Drawing from educational, historical, and sociological literatures, I argue that an underconsideration of suburban space has left many portraits of educational inequality incomplete. The article outlines the emergence of American suburbs and the formation of the city suburb divide which governs much framing of educational inequality and why this frame has limited thinking about what suburbs are and who lies within them. I follow with a discussion of the contemporary state of the suburbs which are now often more racially, ethnically, and economically diverse than their proximal central cities. There are a variety of suburb types, and this article explores three: majority–minority suburbs, exclusive enclaves, and gateway communities. Each suburb type leads to unique challenges such as demographic mismatch between leadership and school population to considering how ethnicity and race interact with Afro-Latino communities. A discussion of how racialized poverty in suburbia shapes the school and social experiences of Black youth is offered. The article closes with the consideration of the directions researchers should consider and areas of policy that are ripe for reengagement given the diversity of Black experiences in suburban schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • African American students
  • activism
  • black
  • latino
  • race
  • suburban
  • urban education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Urban Studies


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