Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Arsalan Khan




For years the American public school system has educated children in hopes of becoming the future leaders of this country and the world. However, schools for a long time have perpetuated racism even after over half a century after the passing of the critical Brown v. Board of Education. While some students know that challenging themselves academically, by taking advanced courses offered in their schools is particularly advantageous in college admissions. On the other hand, other students are marginalized and do not have this awareness and are in a constant state of deficiency. This is due to what Pierre Bourdieu calls 'cultural capital' and the student's ability to use their own non-financial assets to navigate social relations and hierarchies in the school. Unfortunately, since this capital is contextual, African American students are often subjected to the lack of capital and are faced with an uphill battle to attempt to bridge the gap between them and their white peers. This dissonance in performance is by no means due to students' inabilities, but rather a stigmatization, which completely alienates African American students in a way that reverts to the days prior to Brown v. Board. While there is no one solution to this issue, it must be acknowledged if the gap between white and black students has any possibility of being bridged.