Latina/o/xs are typically considered to be a pan-ethnic community; a “rainbow” or “mestizo” group whose members “can be of any race.” This perspective, which thinks of Latinas as a racial group vis-à-vis racial categories like “Black,” has shaped not only the way we understand the Latinx experience but also how we study Latinos. Furthermore, this mythic racial sameness has resulted in the absence of data to track and document the inequalities that exist based on race and ethnicity within the Latino community. In this presentation, Dinzey-Flores will discuss a survey of the Afrolatin@ Forum designed and piloted to measure race among Latinxs, and the theoretical and epistemological challenges that such a survey raised to the concept of Latinidad. By quantifying and making visible race from a Black Latina researcher perspective, the survey offers measures that better document the experience — the opportunities and challenges — of being Black Latino. The project and findings disrupt dominant Latinx perspectives that largely focus on identity. Instead, the project centers how race is experienced in the everyday and provides a model for research that directly pursues questions of racial equity.
Zaire Dinzey-Flores’ research focuses on understanding how urban space mediates community life and race, class, and social inequality. She uses an interdisciplinary lens (sociology, urban planning, public policy), mixed-method approaches, and often a comparative Caribbean-United States framework, to investigate the processes that cement the built environment and unequally distribute power. She is particularly interested in housing and urban residential (housing and neighborhood) design: the underlying logics and policies that drive design, how design is interpreted, used, and experienced, and the consequences for inequality among communities and residents of cities. Her book Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Robert E. Park Award of the Community and Urban Sociology Section (CUSS) of the American Sociological Association and an honorable mention for the 2014 Frank Bonilla Book Award of the Puerto Rican Studies Association, examines race and class inequality as they are recreated, contained, and negotiated through urban policy, the physical built environment, and community gates in private and public housing. Dinzey-Flores is currently working on a number of projects: the first is a mixed-method examination of how race is articulated in residential real estate practices in demographically changing neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York; the second looks at the transatlantic circulation of housing planning and design ideals in the middle of the 20th century. She is also collaborating on a mobile data project with department and university colleagues seeking to understand racial segregation as it occurs in motion and a mixed-media project on construction in the Caribbean.