Most recently, Aliyah completed her M.A. in Sociology (with distinction) at the University of Notre Dame. The thesis offered an in-depth exploration of the lives and learning experiences of one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: young, Black men, specifically those from urban, impoverished communities of color. Culminating five months of ethnographic research in an all-Black, all-boys Charter High School in a Midwestern City, Aliyah collected over 40 hours of classroom observations, 32 in-depth interviews, and survey data. She found that narratives of hypermasculinity coupled with these boys’ misconceptions about sexuality bred a toxic learning environment rife with heteronormative, patriarchal, and sexualized understandings and performances of brotherhood and manhood. Such performances had detrimental effects on these boys’ socialization in and out of school contexts, especially considering the #MeToo era we are presently in. These findings highlighted how the young, Black boys at the school became inextricably bound to reproduce and dwell within the very systems of inequality that delineated them as products of antiquity and undeserving of access to sustainable opportunities for mobility.
Outside of this project, Aliyah is most interested in empirically exploring how racialized narratives of [hyper]masculinity are constructed, performed, and reproduced within sites of inequality, such as schools, prisons, and neighborhoods. Relatedly, Aliyah is interested in the causal mechanisms that lead Black men to engage in violence and crime, namely the conditions of their urban milieu, uneven power relations, and inequality. At the heart of these interests, Aliyah is concerned with shedding light on the lingering effects of racism and racial inequality across time and space as well as dismantling the myths that have been constructed to delineate Black people as undeserving and unworthy of participation within the civil sphere. Predominately, Aliyah has used ethnographic and interview methods to examine these issues but is open to collaborating on mixed-method projects that explore similar and related queries.
In addition, Aliyah has been awarded a Top Fellowship in the Sociology Department at the University of Washington. She is also a huge proponent of public sociology, so during her time here she looks forward to collaborating with the West Coast Poverty Center and other research centers, departments, and organizations that will allow her to engage deeply with the issues and communities that she studies.
Currently, Aliyah is working on preparing her comprehensive exam, finishing her course requirements, and preparing her dissertation prospectus. To follow Aliyah’s personal ruminations on the social and sociological, please visit her personal blog (link included in profile).