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Abstract

Since the Civil Rights Movements, the emphasis on confronting power, inequality, and racism in US schools has receded. So too has the movement to reverse racial/ethnic segregation and enhance student interactions. Instead, much popular and academic discourse focuses on standardized tests and achievement gaps, leaving the social aspects of schooling and race/ethnic interactions under-explored and largely ignored. Meanwhile, racial/ethnic tensions, hierarchies, inequalities, and the patterns, institutions, and systems that maintain them persist. During a period of growth in the percentages of Latina/o and Asian American/Pacific Islander students, this article argues for the importance of theorizing, researching, and reconceptualizing race/ethnic interactions in schools. Key to this process is adopting a multifaceted and multilevel approach. This involves moving beyond dichotomous thinking and instead adopting a framework that explores (1) the strengths of quantitative and qualitative research; (2) cross- and intra-racial/ethnic relations; (3) the significance of race/ethnicity, class, and gender; (4) a conflict-solidarity continuum of relationships; and (5) the salience of macro-, meso-, and micro-dynamics on school interactions. The adoption of this approach allows for a more complex, nuanced, and contemporary analysis of the phenomena occurring in today’s schools, thereby facilitating the possibility for change.