Bridging Black and White: The Influence of a Large Latino Student Population on Interracial Interaction in North Carolina
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Using data from four high schools in North Carolina, this study examines the impact of growth in Latino enrollment since 2000 on interracial interaction in cafeterias, extracurricular activities, and classrooms. From 1990-2000 North Carolina’s Latino population increased by 394 percent. Since that time student populations across the state have continued to grow more diverse. Gordon Allport’s Contact Theory asserts that under certain circumstances increased interaction between students from different backgrounds positively influences achievement and tolerance. However, as student diversity has increased, many North Carolina schools have demonstrated a trend towards increasing segregation. Of the four schools considered in this paper, those with increasing Latino enrollment tend to exhibit increasing exposure rates between black and white students, while those with small and relatively constant Latino enrollment tend to demonstrate decreasing exposure rates between black and white students. Dynamics of interracial interaction are highly complex, but this study’s results suggest that greater student participation in structured programs encourages interracial contact and effectively reduces segregation at schools with diverse student populations.
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
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