Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Race, Poverty, and Violence Exposure: A Critical Spatial Analysis of African American Trauma Vulnerability and Educational Outcomes in Charlotte, North Carolina

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Race, Poverty, and Violence Exposure: A Critical Spatial Analysis of African American Trauma Vulnerability and Educational Outcomes in Charlotte, North Carolina

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Charlotte, North Carolina has a complicated socio-political history concerning race, space, and education. A segregated city by design, neighborhood and community boundaries were clearly drawn across racial-ethnic lines. Due to these socially constructed and politically maintained "color lines" (Du Bois, 1899; Solórzano & Velez, 2018), Charlotte remains an interesting case to examine the residual impacts of segregation in forging present day inequities between White and Black1 residential life and educational outcomes. To this end, a deeper understanding of these factors in Charlotte is promising for the growing body of scholarship dedicated to critical spatial analysis of contemporary urban locales.

Critical spatial analysis considers "positionality, power, the varied construction of knowledge, multiple subjectivities, the politicized nature of representation" (Velez & Solórzano, 2017, p. 11), and visualization of spatial inequalities through mapmaking. Previous research has used critical spatial analysis to examine variables across racial, socioeconomic, political, and educational access and opportunity (Martinez, Pfeffer, & Baud, 2015; Morrison, Annamma, & Jackson, 2017; Soja, 2010; Tate et al., 2012; Wei et al., 2017,). A geospatial perspective's attention to place and space as important contextual variables about neighborhoods and communities (Hogrebe, Tate, & Morris, 2012) is especially significant for highlighting the social (in) justices (Soja, 2010) that have and continue to impact historically marginalized communities. Moreover, critical spatial analysis demonstrates the ways in which local policies influence neighborhood contexts which "play a critical role in economic and racial segregation and disparity" (Hogrebe & Tate, 2017, p. 127). Current conceptualizations of mapping as a critical social justice tool to examine spatial inequalities find their roots in the critical work of W.E.B. Du Bois (Morrison, Annamma, & Jackson, 2017; Solórzano & Velez, 2018; Velez & Solórzano, 2017).

In The Philadelphia Negro, Du Bois (1899/1996) employed a critical spatial analysis of Philadelphia which highlighted how space, race, and power (Velez & Solórzano, 2017) produced spatial inequalities that influenced African American urban life and experience. In this article, the authors glean inspiration from Du Bois' innovation in mapping and research methods to apply our own critical spatial analysis of Charlotte. Considering Charlotte's historical and contemporary racially segregated landscape, we asked:

* How are race, poverty, and violence exposure spatially correlated within and between Charlotte neighborhoods?

* How does the aggregation of quality of life variables represent spatial inequalities in Charlotte, and increase the trauma vulnerability of Black children and families?

* What are the implications of spatial inequalities and trauma vulnerability for Black male secondary school students?

This study uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling of a complex set of spatial (neighborhood) factors which Charlotte residents may be exposed. These model variables reveal a weighted aggregation of racially segregated neighborhoods in Charlotte that maintain spatial inequality in access to social and educational opportunities, wealth distribution and social mobility, as well as violence exposure. The analysis results in the development of a Trauma Vulnerability Index (TVI), which spatially reveals that Black children and families have greater potential for trauma compared to their White counterparts. Findings, moreover, depict how race, poverty, and violence exposure affects the trauma vulnerability and ensuing educational outcomes of African Americans in Charlotte, particularly Black males. Lastly, the authors offer policy implications and recommendations based on a healing justice framework (Ginwright, 2016). …

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