Center for Research on Educational Opportunity

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Aliyah Abu-Hazeem

CREO Graduate Student

Aliyah is a first-year PhD student in the Sociology Department at Notre Dame. Prior to joining the department, Aliyah obtained her BA in Sociology (with High Honors) and Law & Society from Oberlin College. Aliyah’s senior honors thesis focused on the ways in which narratives of hypermasculinity are being used as a strategy of the state to insidiously reinforce racist ideologies about Black men from under resourced, urban communities, particularly their (un)deservingness of participation in civil society and of opportunities that could elevate their social status. In our current era, post Jim-Crow segregation, Black and Brown people continue to be relegated to the margins of society and involuntarily entered into a system of neoslavery – also known as mass incarceration.

Aliyah is excited to join the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) because she believes that work she has laid out in the foregoing is part and parcel of a larger social issue afflicting the urban poor: education inequality. Through in-depth interviewing for her undergraduate thesis, Aliyah found that young, Black men were punished within schools at uneven and alarming rates compared to their peers (even amid young, Black girls), which fed into their desire to seek out alternative avenues for gaining positive visibility in society and accumulating capital. Education was no longer viewed as the “great equalizer” for these Black and Brown young men. Instead, educational institutions were now toxic reproduction sites for narratives of hypermasculinity. In light of this finding, Aliyah wants to spend her time in CREO researching the role that educational institutions play in the maintenance of racialized conceptions of worthiness and deservingness regarding Black men. More specifically, how tracking and punishment within schools lead Black men to negatively alter their view of education as a viable pathway for garnering meaningful outcomes in society. As more and more Black men are arrested for drug sale, theft, and other “illegitimate” (read illegal) forms of labor, assessing the fabric of educational institutions becomes even more critical. As a scholar-activist, Aliyah’s desire to eradicate structural racism (in all its forms), raise awareness about disproportional rates of social disorder plaguing urban areas, and discourage Black men’s use of gun violence and crime as a tool for regaining social validation, mobility, and humanity guides this work.


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