Reaching for Their Dreams—Eight Years On

As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans’ current contributions–and current struggles–in the United States. Learn more at #HispanicHeritage Month.

By Barbara Davenport, author of Grit and Hope: A Year with Five Latino Students and the Program That Helped Them Aim for College and Hope tells the stories of a handful of first-gen Hispanic students who wrote their college applications in the midst of the country’s worst recession and of Reality Changers, the program that helped them get to college. Eight years on, many of Reality Changers’ graduates have chosen work that enables them to help disadvantaged youth the way that Reality Changers helped them. Here’s what three of them are doing now:

  • Theresa was named a Gates Millennium Scholar and graduated from UC Riverside. She worked as a tutor at Reality Changers, and this fall started a masters program in multicultural community counseling and social justice.
  • Mercedes left UC Riverside two quarters short of graduation, tripped up by the residuals of trauma and early deprivation. She works now as director of recreation in a skilled nursing facility. Not graduating eats at her. Her daughter Alma is nearly four years old. Mercedes wants better opportunities for herself and, even more, she wants to be a good role model for Alma. She’s saving money and laying the groundwork to go back to school and finish. Once she graduates, she wants to tutor for Reality Changers, and maybe even lead a cohort of students.
  • Jesse went to Harvard and then taught in Mexico for a year on a Fulbright teaching fellowship. Now he’s based in a San Francisco high school, serving as Dream Director for the Futures Project, helping disadvantaged students realize their dreams.

Davenport.GritAndHopeFounder Chris Yanov designed Reality Changers as a social and psychological scaffolding that would support students and provide a sense of family. “Congress is the thing that makes Reality Changers different from all other tutoring programs. We aren’t here just to raise our grades. We’re a family,” Yanov says. The sense of family was the heart of the program; it held students and was what they valued most. They could launch into the unknown waters of college secure that they had the support of peers and staff who had gone the distance with them. Reality Changers has woven through their lives, scaffolding their efforts and enlarging their sense of what was possible.

A majority of alumni continue to feel a strong connection to the program that helped them change their lives. Their alumni network helps them keep in touch and learn about new initiatives in the program. They volunteer for fundraising events. They come on program nights to talk with the current seniors; some come every week to tutor.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with Reality Changers students.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with Reality Changers students.

They’ve learned that Reality Changers couldn’t change their most difficult realities: not their immigration status nor illnesses, nor family problems. It couldn’t dissolve other people’s prejudices, couldn’t prevent the losses that inevitably come in the pursuit of ambitious goals. Still they call their experience in Reality Changers life-changing. It encouraged them to raise their expectations of what they believed they could do, and it opened opportunities they didn’t know existed. They all speak of their commitment to give back to their families and their community. Every one of them says that Reality Changers enabled them to transform their lives and continue to reach for their dreams.

Barbara Davenport
 is a writer and psychotherapist in San Diego. has written for the Christian Science Monitor, Stanford Magazine, and alternative
weeklies in San Diego, where she lives. For more about her, please

¡Celebra!: Books for National Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month! From September 15 to October 15, we recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans, celebrating the heritage, the culture, and the important role these diverse peoples play in the history of the United States.

This month, we’ve prepared a selection of books across disciplines to showcase the unique experiences of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Happy #HispanicHeritage Month, and happy reading!

Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America
Roberto G. Gonzales 

This vivid ethnography explores why highly educated undocumented youth share similar work and life outcomes with their less-educated peers. Mining the results of an extraordinary twelve-year study that followed 150 undocumented young adults in Los Angeles, Lives in Limbo exposes the failures of a system that integrates children into K-12 schools but ultimately denies them the rewards of their labor.

“Superb. . . . An important examination of the devastating consequences of ‘illegality’ on our young people.”—Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her


The New Latino Studies Reader: A Twenty-First-Century Perspective
Ramon A. Gutierrez, Tomas Almaguer (Editors)

The New Latino Studies Reader is designed as a contemporary, updated, multifaceted collection of writings that bring to force the exciting, necessary scholarship of the last decades. Its aim is to introduce a new generation of students to a wide-ranging set of essays that helps them gain a truer understanding of what it’s like to be a Latino in the United States.

“Two of the leading scholars in the field forged this reader in the teaching trenches. This collection represents the perfect balance between cutting-edge scholarship and touchstone essays.”—Natalia Molina, author of How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts


Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can): Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution, With a New Foreword by Marc Grossman
Peter Matthiessen

Sal Si Puedes is less reportage than living history. In its pages a whole era comes alive: the Chicano, Black Power, and antiwar movements; the browning of the labor movement; Chavez’s fasts; the nationwide boycott of California grapes. A new foreword by Marc Grossman considers the significance of Chavez’s legacy for our time. As well as serving as an indispensable guide to the 1960s, this book rejuvenates the extraordinary vitality of Chavez’s life and spirit, giving his message a renewed and much-needed urgency.

“Cesar Chavez is gracefully revealed by Peter Matthiessen as a curiously private public figure who is in love with people.”—Chicago Tribune


Grit and Hope: A Year with Five Latino Students and the Program That Helped Them Aim for College
Barbara Davenport

Grit and Hope tells the story of five inner-city Hispanic students who start their college applications in the midst of the country’s worst recession and of Reality Changers, the program that aims to help them become the first in their families to go college. Told with deep affection and without sentimentality, the students stories show that although poverty and cultural deprivation seriously complicate youths’ efforts to launch into young adulthood, the support of a strong program makes a critical difference.

“Reality Changers is absolutely a model, not just for the city, not just for the state, but for the country.” —Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan


The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders
Luis D. León

While there is much debate and truth-seeking around how he is remembered, through investigating the leader’s construction of his own public memory, Luis D. León probes the meaning of the discrepancies. By refocusing Chavez’s life and beliefs into three broad movements—mythology, prophecy, and religion—brings us a moral and spiritual agent to match the political leader.

“Cesar Chavez treated religion as he treated so many topics of importance in his life: as something to be willed into contribution to a higher good… Luis León has written a book equal in grace, compassion, and subtlety to its subject.” —Kathryn Lofton, Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, History, and Divinity at Yale University


From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement
Matthew Garcia

Based on little-known sources and one-of-a-kind oral histories with many veterans of the farm worker movement, this book revises much of what we know about the UFW. Matt Garcia’s gripping account of the expansion of the union’s grape boycott reveals how the boycott, which UFW leader Cesar Chavez initially resisted, became the defining feature of the movement and drove the growers to sign labor contracts in 1970. Garcia also presents in-depth studies of other leaders in the UFW, including Gilbert Padilla, Marshall Ganz, Dolores Huerta, and Jerry Cohen.

“A thorough history of the rise and fall of Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers labor union… Meticulous and timely.”—Kirkus Reviews


Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People, Updated Edition, with a New Preface
Arlene Dávila

Both Hollywood and corporate America are taking note of the marketing power of the growing Latino population in the United States. Yet the increasing visibility of Latinos in mainstream culture has not been accompanied by a similar level of economic parity or political enfranchisement. In this important, original, and entertaining book, Arlene Dávila provides a critical examination of the Hispanic marketing industry and of its role in the making and marketing of U.S. Latinos.

“A work derived from prodigious fieldwork that sets a standard for the ethnography of cultural institutions in their varied corporate forms and market participations. Latinos Inc. provides a rich, fascinating, and fresh empirical venue for theories of identity and ethnicity in the U.S.”—George Marcus, author of Ethnography Through Thick & Thin

A Different Kind of Broken Windows Theory

By Adia Wingfield, co-author of “Maintaining Hierarchies in Predominantly White Organizations,” (found in Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World)

When we think about work, it’s easy to imagine someone sitting at a desk, working with their hands, or doing some other sort of immediate task. But the fact is that the nature of work is changing, with many aspects of it becoming increasingly invisible to customers, supervisors, and even other workers. Retail workers do the aesthetic labor of dressing and presenting themselves in a manner that is consistent with the store’s image. Call center workers provide labor that is never seen by those on the other end of the phone. And significantly, there are racial underpinnings to the way that much of this invisible labor operates.

My coauthor Renee Skeete and I write about this in our chapter “Maintaining Hierarchies in Predominantly White Organizations,” out now in Marion Crain, Winnie Poster, and Miriam Cherry’s anthology Invisible Labor. We make the argument that these organizations are undergirded by largely unseen “racial tasks” routinely performed by workers of color. These tasks vary depending on where workers are situated in the organizational hierarchy, but they usually involve maintaining systems of racial segregation and white advantage. Workers at the top levels of an organization complete racial tasks such as maintaining an organizational culture or conforming to norms that otherize workers of color. Those at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy may find that racial tasks become less centered on establishing culture and more focused on maintaining and upholding physical structures that subtly (or overtly) reinforce racial messages.

Take the case of Corey Menafee, an African American dishwasher recently fired from Yale University for breaking a stained glass window. On its surface, this appears to be a story about simple vandalism and destruction of property. But the window Menafee broke was a stained glass window that depicted an image of slaves picking cotton, in a dining hall named for a white supremacist who supported slavery, on a campus where racial tensions were high after students of color cited repeated of overt hostilities that rose to a boiling point when a residential dean suggested minority students simply ignore white peers who dressed in blackface for Halloween. This broader context highlights the way that racial tasks vary depending on a worker’s role in the organizational structure, as well as the ways these tasks reinforce whites’ superordinate position relative to people of color. Maintaining a physical structure that depicts an overt image of black inferiority is an example of the sort of racial tasks with which those at the lower rungs of the organizational hierarchy may be charged. As Menafee describes, his frustrations with doing this task on a routine basis eventually reached a breaking point.

Renee Skeete’s and my chapter in Invisible Labor discusses other similar examples of racial tasks. One key argument that we wanted to make here is that the existing models for work do not necessarily include the ways that there are aspects of labor which are racialized, covert, and often overlooked for people of color. We theorize racial tasks as implicit requirements that are expected of these workers, and often go unnoticed unless they are not completed—such as when Corey Menafee broke the window. In order for workplaces to become more equitable, they will have to take into consideration not just the ways that racial disparities exist in certain professions and occupations, but also how workers of color take on additional responsibilities in the form of racial tasks.

Adia Wingfield is a Professor of Sociology at Washington University. She specializes in research that examines the ways intersections of race, gender, and class affect social processes at work. In particular, she is an expert on the workplace experiences of minority workers in predominantly white professional settings, and specifically on black male professionals in occupations where they are in the minority.

Is it time to re-discover remittances?

by Matt Bakker, author of Migrating into Financial Markets: How Remittances Became a Development Tool

Reporter Somini Sengupta brought migrant remittances back to the pages of the New York Times on August 24, 2016. Remittances are the monies that migrant workers – who tend to be some of the world’s least affluent inhabitants – send to the friends, family, and loved ones they’ve left behind in their homelands.

Sengupta continues a familiar theme in public discourse about remittances in recent years. Much like the widely-circulated suggestion over a decade ago that the billions of dollars in remittances that migrants send their friends and families back home were “hidden in plain sight,” Sengupta’s article, “What Poor Nations Need to Get By: Money From Migrants,”begins:

Amid all the mudslinging and soul-searching about global migration, one thing is often overlooked: the money.
The millions of migrant workers who drill for oil, deliver pizza or take care of older adults far from home sent nearly $582 billion back to their countries in 2015, according to the World Bank.

Perhaps it’s true, with today’s controversies over how to handle the refugee “crisis” across Europe and the sensationalist promises of Donald Trump to hermetically seal the US off from Mexico, that the world has again come to overlook the important role of remittances in sustaining families, communities, even entire nations in the face of economic hardship.

This would be a crushing blow to the World Bank. As I detail in Migrating into Financial Markets: How Remittances Became a Development Tool, the Bank and other major international financial institutions have spent much of the last two decades conducting research on remittances, raising public awareness of their importance in tackling poverty, and designing policy interventions to maximize their contribution to development. Despite all the work these institutions have put into improving statistics and raising the profile of remittances, maybe all their efforts to portray remittances as a “development tool” have been exposed as little more than hollow rhetoric.

In the end, such an outcome wouldn’t be all that surprising. The achilles heel of the financial institutions’ program on remittances was always that it centered on the transformative powers of financial markets. If only we could get banks and credit unions to recognize the money-making potential of migrants and remittance recipients, and to get these people to use such institutions for their remittance transactions – the logic went – then this giant river of money from the world’s poor could expand access to needed financial goods and services, facilitate small business development, alleviate poverty, and spark wider community and regional development.

All along this celebratory message has overlooked the major impediment to this promising future: the immigration control policies the world over that limit migrants’ legal access to the labor markets that would generate these remittance flows in the first place. Addressing this issue and freeing today’s migrants from the death-defying journeys they are currently forced to undertake in order to enter the United States or Western Europe in clandestine fashion is a far more pressing task than that of incorporating their monies into global financial markets.

Matt Bakker is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Marymount University.

In Honor of C. Wright Mills’ 100th Birthday

by Kathryn Mills, coeditor of C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings

If my father, C. Wright Mills, were alive today he’d be celebrating his 100th birthday. He was born on August 28, 1916 in Waco, Texas. Birthdays are for celebrating life, which makes me want to quote a letter my father wrote in 1952 to his friend, the historian, William Miller, when Miller was feeling discouraged about a new job he had just accepted. Wright wrote:

“You ask for what one should be keyed up ? My god, for long weekends in the country, and snow and the feel of an idea and New York streets early in the morning and late at night and the camera eye always working whether you want or not and yes by god how the earth feels when it’s been plowed deep and the new chartreuse wall in the study and wine before dinner and if you can afford it Irish whiskey afterwards and sawdust in your pants cuff and sometimes at evening the dusky pink sky to the northwest, and the books to read never touched and all that stuff the Greeks wrote and have you ever read Macaulay’s speeches to hear the English language ? And to revise your mode of talk and what you talk about and yes by god the world of music which we must now discover and there’s still hot jazz and getting a car out of the mud when nobody else can. That’s what the hell to get keyed up about.

The trouble with you and what used to be the trouble with me is that you don’t use your goddamned senses; too much society crap and too much mentality and not enough tactile and color and sound stuff going on. So now if you’re like I was a year ago, you’ve got to coax the sight and sound back, carefully tease it to life again and it will fill you up.”

(from C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings, edited by Kathryn Mills with Pamela Mills, Introduction by Dan Wakefield, p. 174.)

Mills.CWrightMillsSpeaking of anniversaries, when Barack Obama made his historic visit to Cuba last spring, he stepped off the plane at Havana airport on the 54th anniversary of my father’s death, March 20, 2016.  More than half a century has passed since the U.S. imposed its dreadful embargo against a small, low-income island nation, our neighbor, Cuba, over the strenuous objections of opponents of Cold War hostilities, especially C. Wright Mills.  Although the basic outline of the embargo is still in effect, Obama has managed to weaken its impact and narrow its scope, achieving great progress toward reasonably harmonious relations with Cuba. To quote an old Slavic saying,  “Justice is a train that always arrives late.”

Kathryn Mills works for a book publisher in Boston.

Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States

by Luis Escala, author of Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States with Rafael Alarcon and Olga Odgers

This guest post is published during the American Sociological Association conference in Seattle. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on August 23rd.

In recent times, the topic of migration has had a key role within media coverage of the US elections, particularly the case of Mexicans in the US. In this media frenzy, the anti-immigrant narrative has gained considerable significance, emphasizing the allegedly undocumented status of all this population, as well as their never-ending mobile character. While this narrative has gained considerable support among the public, much less attention has been paid to the opinions of sociologists and other scholars who have emphasized not only the contributions of Mexican immigrants to American economy and society, but also the sometimes subtle, sometimes invisible efforts carried out by them to integrate into this nation. This book aims to document the experience of many of these immigrants in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, a key destination point for millions of immigrants from all over the world, as well as to examine and explain the different ways in which this integration takes place.

For the authors, this experience involved multiple complexities that were beyond the traditional approaches on immigrant integration at hand, which led them to analytically split this concept into four different dimensions (economic, social, political, and cultural integrations), aiming to highlight the different traits and paces they involved among Mexicans in the LA region. By the same token, given that immigrant integration involves a process, we considered in our study not one but three different cohorts of Mexican immigrants, from three different regions of origin, whose arrival in LA took place at different times, thus facing different circumstances throughout the Angeleno history during the second half of the twentieth century. In addition, as Mexican scholars who work and live at the Mexican city of Tijuana, in between the American and Mexican Californias, we were aware of the multiple ties these migrants kept with their region and nation of origin, an aspect that definitely shaped their integration experiences.

But why is this important? While different politicians, anchormen, and even scholars have targeted these ties, together with their low socio-economic status, poor educational attainment, and extended undocumented status of Mexican immigrants to portray them as eternal aliens, living self-contained lives that run parallel to American mainstream society, the fact is that becoming Americans have gained considerable centrality for them. Gone were the times when circular migration between Mexican hometowns and a vast array of Californian cities was dominant, and those who arrived before or during 1986 IRCA legalized their status, and the settlement process of these immigrants took place in a vast scale. And even for those Mexicans who arrived later to the US, their aspirations and life projects were oriented towards settling in their new places of destination and integrate into their new societies. The fact was that by the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, the context of Mexican migration to the US had considerably changed, due in part to new immigration policies in the US and their severe enforcement but also to the significant rise of crime and violence in Mexico.

Throughout our interviews, Mexican immigrants provided compelling stories on the ways in which they and their families aim to integrate to the different spheres of their lives in Los Angeles. Working long hours in increasingly precarious jobs, these men and women portray not only the vast array of predicaments they cope with and their strategies to deal with the inherent challenges of living in a hugely extended metropolis, but also their aim of settling down and their quest to become one more in American society. Nevertheless, this aim involves a process that is necessary to examine in detail, for all the complexities it entails: on the one hand, they procure the preservation of their traditional culture; but, on the other, their life courses as immigrants in a new society have led them to a significant redefinition of their social and cultural boundaries.

In this sense, our book comes in handy to an array of audiences in an era in which Nativisms have amplified a particular image of Mexican migrants in the US, while obscuring or even neglecting the relevance of their aspirations to integrate into American society. Both activists and interested readers in the subject, as well as faculty and students in different fields of social sciences will find expert analysis and opinions on the socio-economic and demographic data on the immigrant population of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Region, but most of all they will find persuasive arguments through the voices of the Mexican men and women interviewed for the writing of this book.

Rafael Alarcón has a PhD in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

Luis Escala has a PhD in sociology from UCLA and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

Olga Odgers has a PhD in sociology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales-Paris and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

ASA Conference: Author Sessions – Updates


If you’ve enjoyed some of our UC Press author sessions at the ASA conference, attend some other sessions listed below.

Below are the sessions for Monday, August 22nd and Tuesday, August 23rdSessions are located at both the Washington State Convention Center and the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

And visit Exhibit Booth #101 to see some of their work on display! #ASA16, #ASA2016

Monday, August 22nd

10:30am – 12:10pm

  • Marianne Cooper: What do Workers Need to Live a Good Life? Rethinking Work/Family Conflict in a Neoliberal Age
    • Convention Center, Level 2, Room 211
  • Paul A. Attewell: Who Suffers and Who Benefits from Student Loans?
    • Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
  • Manuel Pastor: Progressive Cities
    • Convention Center, Level 3, Room 310

2:30pm – 3:30pm

  • Kathryn J. Edin: How Investors Become Slumlords
    • Sheraton, 3rd Floor, Metropolitan Ballroom A-B

2:30pm – 4:10pm

  • Aldon D. Morris: Author Meets Critics Session. The Scholar Denied: W.E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology
    • Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
  • Sarah Halpern-Meekin: Family Inequality
    • Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Willow Room B
  • Laura M. Tach: For Love or Money? How the EITC Affects the Living Arrangements of Single Mothers
    • Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Willow Room B
  • Nancy Rodriguez: Punitive Policing, Mass Incarceration, and Community Responses
    • Convention Center, Level 2, Room 203
  • Katherine Irwin: Fighting for Theories of Race and Gender: Pacific Islander Teens, Youth Violence, and Multiple Inequalities
    • Convention Center, Level 6, Room 617

Tuesday, August 23rd 

8:30am – 10:10am

  • Kathryn J. Edin: The Price of Parenthood and the Costs of Contraception
    • Convention Center, Level 2, Room 213
  • Juliet A. Williams: What is Gender Neutrality: The Career of a Concept
    • Convention Center, Level 3, Room 308
  • Keith W. Guzik: Welcome to the Perhapsicon: Qualification, Contingency, and Fluidity in Surveillance Outcomes
    • Convention Center, Level 6, room 612

10:30am – 11:30am: 

  • Mary Patrice Erdmans: Graduates and Dropouts: Explaining School Outcomes for Teen Mothers
    • Sheraton, 3rd Floor, Metropolitan Ballroom A-B
  • John P. Hoffmann: How Durable is Social Capital?: Family and School Social Bonds and College Enrollment and Completion
    • Sheraton, 3rd Floor, Metropolitan Ballroom A-B

10:30am – 12:10pm 

  • Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo: Men’s Search for Home in Black and Latino Community Gardens in South Los Angeles
    • Convention Center, Level 3, Room 310

12:30pm – 1:30pm 

  • Jacqueline M. Hagan: Immigrants and Labor Markets
    • Sheraton, 3rd Floor, Metropolitan Ballroom A-B

2:30pm – 4:10pm 

  • Shannon Marie Gleeson: Organized Labor and Immigrant Organizing: Finding Common Ground
    • Convention Center, Level 6, Room 611

Over-policing and Excessive Use of Punishments in Schools

by Aaron Kupchik, author of The Real School Safety Problem: The Long-Term Consequences of Harsh School Punishment

This guest post is published during the American Sociological Association conference in Seattle. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on August 23rd.

This year’s ASA theme, “Rethinking Social Movements,” asks us to consider the extent to which social movements can create real change in lived experiences.

As a sociologist who studies school discipline, this is a question I have been asking myself a great deal lately. Over the past few years, sociologists, other scholars, and policy-makers have begun to realize the harm being done by over-policing and excessive use of punishments in schools. Students today are subjected to rigorous policing and are at greater risk of harsh punishment, usually for very minor misbehaviors such as defiance of school authority (e.g., talking back to a teacher, cursing, etc.). Students who are suspended are at increased risk of several problems, including academic failure, dropping out, arrest, incarceration, and unemployment. These harms are disproportionately felt by students of color, which exacerbates racial inequality. Many methodologically rigorous studies find race/ethnicity to be an important predictor of school punishment, even when controlling for student behavior.

In The Real School Safety Problem, I illustrate broader and longer-term harms that come from contemporary school punishment. Excessive school punishment harms families, and it suppresses future civic engagement among formerly suspended students. Students in schools with unfair school rules have higher bullying victimization rates. And we spend a great deal of money on school security and punishment; these funds could be returned to students or communities rather than being spent on ineffective, harmful practices.

Thankfully, in the past 3 or so years, many school districts, cities, and some states across the U.S. have recognized some of these problems and have introduced new policies that seek to reduce school suspensions. The Federal Government has encouraged these alternatives to school suspension, provided guidance on evidence-based responses to student misbehavior, and investigated racial disproportionality in punishment through the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The movement away from excessive school punishment seems to have begun.

Yet I am skeptical of the power these policy revisions have to result in real change that benefits all students. Data released recently by the Department of Education show that suspensions did decrease substantially from 2011-2012 to 2013-2014 – but racial disproportionality in school suspensions increased. Harmful practices might have decreased overall, but in a way that only exacerbates racial inequality, a primary harm of school punishment.

The real school safety problem – harshness of punishments and over-policing of students – is deeply institutionalized. It is based on intransigent problems such as school segregation, implicit racial bias, antagonism between teachers and students, excessive pressures on teachers and school administrators, and shared sensibilities about punishment. None of these problems goes away when a city council or state legislator one day requires schools to practice restorative justice or other strategies rather than suspending someone. In fact, they might make it worse, since new requirements placed on teachers without proper training or resources simply adds a new demand to members of an already overburdened workforce. Policy changes do not alter school climates, address racial bias, or provide new training for school staff. They do nothing to alter punitive sentiments or rethink how school staff perceive and interact with students. How can we expect them to result in real change that benefits all students?

Aaron Kupchik is Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. His previous books includeHomeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear, Judging Juveniles: Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts, and Criminal Courts.

Join Us at the American Sociological Association Conference!

University of California Press is exhibiting at the 2016 ASA Annual Conference! The meeting convenes August 20 – August 23, 2016 in Seattle, WA.

Please visit us at booth #101 in the exhibit hall at the Washington State Convention Center for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for course adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

Please see our flyer at our booth for our latest releases. Our Acquisitions Editors and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions and proposal submissions .

Follow ASA’s Facebook, @ASANews, #ASA16, and #ASA2016 for current meeting news. And catch up on our recent blog posts on Sociology.

ASA Conference: Author Sessions

We’re excited to attend this year’s American Sociological Association conference in Seattle, WA from August 20 – August 23. Below is a list of just some sessions featuring our wonderful UC Press authors! See the full online program schedule at ASA’s site. #ASA2016, #ASA16

And take a look at some of our ASA award-winning authors’ and their titles.

morris 2Aldon Morris, The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology

  • Saturday, 8/20, 12:30 – 2:10pm, Plenary Session: Protesting Racism
  • Monday, 8/22, 2:30 – 4:10pm: Author Meets Critic, The Scholar Denied



Sanyu MojolaSanyu Mojola, Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS

  • Saturday, 8/20, 10:20am – 12:10pm, Section on Aging and the Life, Behaving Well: The Transition to Respectable Womanhood in Rural South Africa


John.Iceland.PhotoJohn Iceland, Poverty in America: A Handbook, A Portrait of America: The Demographic Perspective, and Where we Live Now: Immigration and Race in the United States.   

  • Sunday 8/21, 8:30 – 9:30am, Section on Community and Urban Sociology Refereed Roundtable Session, Hispanic Concentrated Poverty in Traditional and New Destinations, 2010-2014


Paul.Attewell.PhotoPaul Attwell, Data Mining for the Social Sciences: An Introduction 

  • Saturday 8/20, 8:30 – 10:10am, Sociology of Higher Education, Class Inequality among College Graduates.
  • Sunday 8/21, 12:30 – 2:10pm, Inequality and Privilege in Education, The Earnings Payoff from Attending a Selective College
  • Monday 8/22, 10:30am – 12:10pm, College Affordability, Who Suffers and Who Benefits from Student Loans.


Joachim J. Savelsberg, Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur

  • Sunday 8/21, 10:30am – 12:10pm, Section on Political Sociology: How Political Culture Matters; Collective Memories, Political Culture, and Policy: The Case of Irish Humanitarianism


SoyerheadshotMichaela Soyer, A Dream Denied: Incarceration, Recidivism, and Young Minority Men in America

  • Saturday 8/20, 8:30 – 10:10am, Section on Aging and the Life Course, Exploring Life Course and Network Mechanisms Underlying Prison-based Therapeutic Communities