Shifting the Balance

Friday, December 6, 2013

Inside USD -- These were the famous words of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963. The speech, given 37 years ago, addressed the issue of civil rights. Progress has been made since Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, but many argue it’s still not enough.

For example, this year at the University of Alabama, at least four sorority chapters denied an African American woman a bid because of the color of her skin. Although this may be shocking to some, new USD Department of Sociology Assistant Professor Greg Prieto, PhD, was not surprised. Dr. Prieto grew up in a small town called Lancaster, located in the northern most suburban area of Los Angeles County. Lancaster, according to Prieto, is a very conservative town and is ironically segregated by a street called Division. Division Street separates the town into lower income — primarily African American — housing and higher income — primarily white — housing.

The experience growing up in a largely segregated community was integral to Prieto’s interest in sociology and his focus on immigration and race. Coming of age in a town where segregation was the social norm, it was not until Prieto started studying sociology that he was able to view segregation from a more intellectual and critical angle. (Full Story

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