Sociology and Criminology Professor’s New Book Studies the Multifaceted Identities of Rising Black Professionals

VILLANOVA, Pa – There are countless analyses of the diverse racial and ethnic groups nationally, yet when it comes to the study of Black Americans, there has long been a monolithic understanding of the Black experience. A range of social differences exist within Black populations—such as social class, gender, nativity status, skin tone and more—which impact their life experiences, and their undergraduate education is no exception.

Book cover of, "Young, Gifted and Diverse: Origins of the New Black Elite"

In Young, Gifted and Diverse: Origins of the New Black Elite, Rory Kramer, PhD, associate professor of Sociology and Criminology at Villanova University, and co-authors Camille Z. Charles, PhD; Douglas S. Massey, PhD; and Kimberly C. Torres, PhD; delve into the intraracial diversity among Black students at America’s prestigious colleges and universities. Using data from a representative sample of over a thousand Black students, including interviews and focus groups, the book highlights an array of voices and emphasizes there is no single, “authentic” Black identity.

“There hasn’t been a good, careful overview of the range of diversity within Black populations, especially in more privileged spaces,” says Dr. Kramer. “We show that the experience of being Black in a selective college—regardless of one’s background—leads to a largely shared worldview that racial injustice is a serious problem, but that as individuals, these students have bright futures. That sense of common fate, racial identity and personal optimism may help explain Black politics, social worlds and outcomes better than we had previously thought.”

In addition to anyone looking to deepen their understanding of Africana studies, Dr. Kramer shares that this research is particularly useful for higher education professionals. Administrators and policymakers seeking to advance racial equity and social mobility can identify strategies to improve their academic programs’ success.

Dr. Kramer earned his bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Williams College and received both his master’s and doctorate in Sociology with a certificate in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He currently serves on the editorial board for Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and Sociological Currents and is an active member of the Academic Policy Committee at Villanova. Dr. Kramer continues to focus his research on the physical and social boundaries between races in the United States.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.