Natasha Warikoo, “Race at the Top: Asian Americans and Whites in Pursuit of the American Dream in Suburban Schools”

The Department of Education

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States today, and Asian American youth overall are outperforming their white peers academically. In this talk, Warikoo brings us into an upper-middle-class suburb in which these trends make their way into the local high school. She describes how many white parents attempt to protect their children’s status by calling for shifts in the status system, and by drawing moral boundaries around good parenting. For their part, Asian American parents reject dominant cultural repertoires for success advocated by many of their white neighbors and draw their own, intra-Asian moral boundaries. Overall, the book shows evidence of simultaneous spatial assimilation alongside the enduring power of whiteness and the maintenance of group boundaries between Asian Americans and whites. Ultimately, while both Asian Americans and whites in the town are engaged in a “race at the top,” both benefit from the historical exclusion of African American and working-class families in their upper-middle-class suburb.


Natasha Warikoo, Ph.D. is a Professor of Sociology at Tufts University. A former Guggenheim Fellow and high school teacher, Warikoo is an expert on racial and ethnic inequality in education. Her forthcoming book, Race at the Top: Asian Americans and Whites in Pursuit of the American Dream in Suburban Schools (University of Chicago Press, April 2022) illuminates tensions related to achievement in a suburban, high-income town with a large and growing Asian American population.


This event is free and open to the public. Both in-person and virtual attendance options are available and require registration: