The Atlanta- Journal Constitution

April 9, 2021

By Maureen Downey

Conventional wisdom has long maintained that Black students fare better in integrated schools because those schools offer more resources in terms of the quantity and quality of teachers per student, equipment, books and materials, classrooms, and curricula.

But the study suggests the hostilities aimed at Black students once they reach a critical mass offsets any edge gained from those greater resources. “Our hypothesis, which appeared to have been borne out by the work we did, was that, in the schools in which you had greater racial balance, whites experienced a greater sense of threat by the presence of Black students there,” study co-author William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr., director of Duke’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and a professor of public policy, African and African American Studies and economics, said in a telephone interview.

Culling data from the National Survey of Black Americans, a representative survey of Black Americans age 18 or older, the researchers examined experiences and outcomes of 1,121 Black adults ages 25 to 65 in 1979-80. These adults categorized the peers in their high school as: “mostly or almost all white,” “mostly or all Black,” or “about half Black,” where the enrollment was racially balanced. A rich and unique data set, the survey provided a deep dive into the lives of Black Americans. An updated version was administered in the early 2000s, but it did not ask respondents about the racial composition of their high schools.