Belisa Gonzalez

Belisa Gonzalez

Associate Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity

Specialty:Race and Ethnicity & Social Inequality
Phone:(607) 274-3921
Office:101 Center for Health Sciences
Ithaca, NY 14850


I received my PhD from Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 2006.  Since my first semester of teaching in 2002, I’ve developed a variety of different courses including: Race and Ethnic Relations, Introduction to Sociology, Social Inequality, Social Theory, Sociology of Gender, Race and Affirmative Action, Sociology of Women of Color and Practicum in Social Change I & II: Urban Mentorship Initiative.  Of these, I regularly teach Race and Ethnicity, Social Inequality, Introduction to Sociology and Special Topic seminars on Race and Ethnicity.  My general approach to Sociology is that we should use it to make the world a more just and equitable place.  To that end, I design all my classes with a social justice orientation in mind.          

My areas of specialization are: Race and Ethnic Relations, Stratification/Inequality, Intergroup relations among communities of color and qualitative methods.  

Current Research

My current research “Discrimination, Boundary Negotiation and Mobility Strategies among Middle Class Latin American Immigrants in the Nuevo South,” funded in part by the National Science Foundation, looks at whether, how and under what conditions experiences of discrimination influence mobility strategies of middle class Dominican and Mexican immigrant parents in Atlanta. In particular, we look at the processes through which discrimination affects identity formation, decisions about where to live, where to send children to school, what organizations to join, what social networks to cultivate and what activities to pursue.  This research in co-investigated with Dr. Irene Browne, Emory University.

Course Offerings

Race and Ethnicity:

This course will provide an introduction to concepts, theories, and current research on race & ethnicity on the United States.  We will approach the subject through various perspectives including assimilations and pluralist.  Race & ethnicity will be examined as dimensions of social stratification and social control.  We will examine, analyze and challenge concepts, such as: prejudice, discrimination, institutional racism, internal colonization and ethnic identity.  If you don’t like to be uncomfortable this is not the class for you.  (Offered Fall 2011)

Inequality and Its Consequences:

This course is designed to introduce students to the dynamics of inequality in the U.S. and compare those dynamics to other countries.   To do so, we will identify historical and contemporary patterns of inequality and their consequences on the lives of everyday people.  We will discuss some of the major theoretical perspectives and their explanations of the persistence of inequality in the US.  We will explore the interconnections and costs of privilege and oppression along the major organizing categories of gender, race and class in order to begin to investigate the connection between social inequality and life chances.  (Offered Fall 2011) 

Introduction to Sociology 

Special Topics in Race and Ethnicity: Sociology of and by Women of Color

In the course we examine the ways in which women of color as subjects and scholars have been included in and excluded from the Foundations of Sociology and other disciplines.  We will explore what it means to be inclusive of alternative sources and forms of knowledge in academia in general and Sociology specifically.  The ideal student for this course is one who has already begun to think critically about interlocking systems of oppression and the impact those systems have on the development of disciplines like, but not limited to, Sociology.    

Advanced Race and Ethnicity: The 21st Century Color-line  

Students in this class should already have a foundation in the basic concepts related to race and ethnicity, social problems, social inequality and the sociological perspective. Students should be prepared to keep up with the contemporary social world.  The objective of this class is to engage in dialogue about contemporary issues of race and ethnic relations and make connections to historical cycles of: institutional racism, hegemony, economic shifts, immigration policies and other patterns of inequality.  To draw on the cumulative knowledge in the room to interrogate “common” topics and questions about contemporary race relations such as: Are we living in a post-racial society?, Can people of color be racist?, I didn’t own any slaves, Where do non-black people of color “fit”?, Reverse racism, some of my best friend are black, The race card, Affirmative Action, etc.  Finally, to investigate what can be done to move from our current understanding of race and ethnicity.    

Practicum in Social Change I & II: Urban Mentorship Initiative (Offered Fall 2011 and Spring 2012)


Practicum in Social Change I: Urban Mentorship Initiative  The Urban Mentorship Initiative is a distance-mentoring program where 30 students from IC are matched with 30 eighth grade students from The School for the Urban Environment (UE) in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Throughout the year mentors and mentees communicate through both structured (formal emails) and unstructured (texts, ims, casual emails, talking on the phone etc.) formats.  There are also 3 required trips: two in the fall and one in the spring.  For the first trip students from Ithaca travel to Brooklyn in late September to meet and get to know their UE mentees.  For the second and third trips, at the end of the fall and spring semesters, the UE students travel to Ithaca.  It is mandatory that students attend all three trips, thus, the program is a year-long commitment with a course requirement (1 credit course in the Fall and 2 credit course in the Spring). We will meet every other Tuesday this semester from 7-9 at Ithaca College. In the course, we will talk about the history of Bed-Stuy and what social forces have lead to its current condition and the need for a mentorship initiative like this one.  We will also discuss the challenges that arise with University Community partnerships like this one and the pros and cons of distance mentoring.  Much of our time in class will be spent discussing issues related to mentoring, sustainability of the program, reading and discussing relevant articles, attending relevant lectures and organizing upcoming visits or trips.  There are no required texts, however, there is a $100 fee associated with the course that will go toward off setting the cost of the mentorship initiative (e.g. travel costs).