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Teaching in the Line of Fire: Faculty of Color in the Academy

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THOUGHT & ACTIONFALL 2009 6 5
Despite these gains for faculty of color, there is another reality, supported by
an emerging body of literature, which suggests these increases may come at a cost.
For some faculty of color, an unwelcoming and potentially hostile classroom envi-
ronment awaits those who choose to teach in predominantly White institutions
(PWIs). According to Cathy A. Trower, a research associate at the Harvard
Graduate School of Education, faculty of color:
experience overt and/or covert racism including being stereotyped and
pigeon-holed;
are marginalized and find that their research is discredited, especially if it
concerns minority issues;
bear a tremendous burden of tokenism, including feeling like they must be
Historically,faculty of color have been woefully under-
represented in higher education. Since the 1980s,
though, numbers for these academics have begun to
increase. According to a 2005 report from the American Council on Education
(ACE), faculty of color have experienced steady growth during the past two
decades, more than doubling their numbers to over 82,000 and increasing their
share of faculty positions from approximately 9 percent to 14.4 percent.1Similarly,
among full professors, faculty of color representation has more than doubled over
the past 20 years, rising from approximately 7,600 to nearly 17,000.2
Teaching in the Line
of Fire: Faculty of
Color in the Academy
by Frank Tuitt, Michele Hanna, Lisa M. Martinez,
María del Carmen Salazar, and Rachel Griffin
Frank Tuitt is program director and assistant professor in the higher education program,
Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, Michele Hanna, an assistant professor
at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, Lisa M. Martinez, an assistant
professor of sociology and faculty affiliate of the Latino Center for Community Engagement and
Scholarship at the University of Denver, María del Carmen Salazar, an assistant professor in
the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, Rachel Alicia Griffin, an assistant
professor of speech communication at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
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exemplars of their entire race and work twice as hard to get half as far;
feel obligated to represent one’s race or ethnicity on multiple committees
that help the institution, but not necessarily the individual, and to mentor
and advise many same-race students—a huge hidden work load that goes
unrewarded in the promotion and tenure system; and
suffer from negative, unintended consequences of being perceived as an
affirmative action or target-of-opportunity hire.3
Conditions such as these have significant implications for how faculty of color
negotiate their work environment. In particular, having to perform where there is
the perceived or real threat of marginalization and devaluation can take its toll on
their overall satisfaction, productivity and retention.4Christine Stanley, a profes-
sor in Texas A&M’s Department of Educational Administration and Human
Development, argues that, “the wounds of covert and overt racism … run deep for
many faculty of color” and notes that many describe their campus climate as
living in “two worlds,” reflecting a constant tension of being pulled between their
ethnic culture and the institutional culture.5She found that faculty of color face
problematic student attitudes and behaviors, including students inappropriately
questioning both their authority and credibility in the classroom.6In a study by
Juanita McGowan, assistant dean of diversity in Kansas State University’s College
of Arts and Sciences, faculty of color indicated that some White students were
more ready to: critique their classroom effectiveness; challenge their authority;
have a lower level of respect; and report their concerns and critiques to department
chairs.7
To bring attention to the some of the struggles that faculty of color face, five jun-
ior faculty members created a counternarrative by drawing on our collective
experience to deconstruct and challenge the ways that race and racism play a role in
our pedagogical interactions. Personal narratives and stories are important to under-
stand lived experiences and how those experiences may confirm or contradict domi-
nant belief systems, notes Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Chair in urban
education and professor of curriculum and instruction and educational policy studies
at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.8To that end, our hope was that an analy-
sis of our lived experiences would contribute to the development of a critical liter-
acy and that we—emerging scholars of color—could examine the impact of our
racial identities on our pedagogical experiences at our institution.10
Faculty of color face problematic student attitudes
and behaviors, including inappropriate questioning
of their authority and credibility in the classroom.
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THOUGHT & ACTIONFALL 2009 6 7
TEACHING IN THE LINE OF FIRE: FACULTY OF COLOR IN THE ACADEMY
Shortly after a conference where we presented these counternarratives,
the president of our faculty senate asked us if we would be willing to share our
experiences with the entire faculty. Instead of sharing our individual narratives, we
chose to combine our narratives to capture the essence of our collective experiences
and at the same time ensure that no one voice remained isolated or exposed,
potentially subjecting any one of us to unnecessary scrutiny. Our fictional
counter-narrative follows.
Having completed the academic requirements necessary to enter this academ-
ic profession and having contributed excellent scholarly work within my
content area, I have received national recognition from professionals who have
sought my expertise and cited my research. I have received positive evaluations and
accolades for my conference presentations; my teaching evaluations remain consis-
tently high. While others with similar achievements might find delight basking in
their personal satisfaction and peer accolades, I find myself surreally bleeding from
the wounds inflicted consciously and unconsciously by my students, colleagues and
so-called campus community. Every day, I walk a lonely walk down the long
corridor that leads to my office, passing office after office inhabited by White col-
leagues who I may never really know, who cannot understand, and who would
likely negate my lived experience with numerous examples of how they cannot
possibly be racist. In the solace of my office, I often close my door and turn on
some soul-nourishing music as I reflect on my experiences in this place. When I
began my tenure as a professor of color in a predominantly White university, I
anxiously anticipated the reality that I would constantly be faced with attempts to
devalue my expertise, to question my authority, and to put me in my place.
After all, this was not new. I went to a predominately White institution and
have lived and worked in predominately White organizations. I am used to being
part of the few, the first, or the only. No, this was not new. I can still remember my
experiences in graduate school when I was one of only two people of color. Despite
my qualifications and the support of those whose footsteps I was following in, I
felt like an imposter every time I walked into a classroom. Many of my peers in
graduate school grew up in middle-class families, and had far more social and cul-
tural capital than me, which they could wield and spend at will. Although I had
grown up being told that I would go to college, I didn’t know anyone who had.
We chose to combine our narratives to capture the
essence of our collective experiences and at the same time
ensure that no one voice remained isolated or exposed.
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Likewise, how many times did I find myself discussing Spinoza, Gramsci, and
Nietzsche while sitting around the dinner table with my family? In graduate
school, it was par for the course. Even at happy hour gatherings and housewarm-
ing parties, my colleagues discussed theorists and philosophers. There was no
escaping it. It was difficult not to feel as though my performance in seminars and
during casual hallway conversations was intended to gauge my worthiness to the
field. I always wondered, “At what point are they going to realize I am an impos-
tor?” I began doubting my abilities as a scholar, a writer, and a teacher. As my con-
fidence waned, I began to wonder whether or not I was meant to earn a graduate
degree. In fact, it was a teaching experience during my graduate training that made
me realize that, to others, I was suspect.
As part of the requirements for completion of the graduate degree, senior fac-
ulty members were asked to evaluate graduate student instructors in the
classroom. My peers and I were assigned senior faculty members who would
attend an undergraduate class of ours and give individual feedback on the things
we did well or needed to improve upon. As luck would have it, my peers were
assigned to faculty members who worked well with graduate students or who were
beloved by everyone. I was not so lucky. The faculty member assigned to my course
was known for being, as another graduate student put it,terse and abrupt. This was
a person who had a reputation for delighting in putting undergraduate and grad-
uate students in the hot seat. Throughout the class, I could not help but see him
out of the corner of my eye, sitting at the very last seat in the top row, staring at
me over his glasses with his chin cupped in his hand, waiting for me to mess up. I
was able to get through the lecture with only one major blunder, but it was the
debriefing after class that I feared most.
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I slowly walked from class and to his office and waited for the worst. I decid-
ed to make a pre-preemptive strike by mentioning my flub first. He looked at me,
and did not utter a word. We sat there for a few uncomfortable moments of total
silence. My heart sank. He then sat up in his chair and said, “It’s a good thing you
carry your self in a professional manner and dress the part of the instructor.” I was
stunned for a moment, never thinking I would be getting fashion advice from a
senior faculty member, but there it was. He continued, “It’s a good thing you walk
into the classroom as an authority figure ...” I began to sit upright …“ because you
are suspect on three counts: your age, your race, and your gender.” I slouched back
down in my seat, taken aback for a moment, not because this had not occurred to
me, but because no one had said it so bluntly before.
That was all he had to say for our debriefing. I thanked him for his time and
left. But those words stuck with me and still echo in my ears to this day. After
much time and reflection, I realized that he was not rebuking me; rather, as a fac-
ulty member of color himself, I believe he was equipping me with tools to confront
the reality of being a person of color in academia.
From that point on, I have come to understand that I do not have the privilege
of walking into a classroom and having students assume that I am a capable
and credible teacher. Nor do I have the privilege of walking into a classroom and
having people assume that I have earned my position through hard work and
determination. I have to be deliberate in the subject matter that I teach so that
others do not see me as an exception to their assumptions about who is qualified,
about who has a right to be here. I also do not have the privilege of having people
know that I am a well-educated person with three degrees, who teaches at a uni-
versity, and who is an expert in my discipline. And throughout my journey in the
academy, I have had plenty of experiences that remind me of the privileges that I
do not have. I will continue to be suspect to my students, my peers, and to the
world around me, regardless of my qualifications or academic accomplishments.
It is not uncommon for me to think, “I am done! I am tired, irritated, frustrat-
ed, and just done! Why do I have to deal with these things? Why can’t I just go
about my business, do my job, focus on my career … why does the fact that I am
a person of color keep interrupting my life?” Then I hear that small voice say,
“Whoa—slow down, speed racer! Remember your goals, keep your eye on the
prize, don’t let this stop you! Focus!”
I am hopeful and convinced that every tinge of consciousness inspired matters.
I have come to understand that I do not have the priv-
ilege of walking into a classroom and having students
assume that I am a capable and credible teacher.
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I must continually play these words in my head if I am to do more than survive
the world of academia. I cannot let them change my sense of purpose or weaken
my resolve to demand justice and pave the way for young people of color who
might not otherwise see images of themselves in academia. I must stand in the way
of disregard, dismissal, ignorance, and the steadfast desire to do things the “way
they have always been done.” For me, this is the key to dealing with the micro-
aggressions and macro-oppressions that are endemic to this work —the under-
standing that my job, having arrived in this place, is to stand in the line of fire.
Standing in the line of fire in the classroom poses its own unique challenges.
This conversation occurred after the last class of the academic term:
He said, “This class was really great! Thank you.”
“Good, good, I’m glad you enjoyed it!” I said.
He said, “Yeah, you know I just really wanted to tell you that it was a really
great class. I learned a lot. You’re a good teacher. I had never had a teacher that was
[not White] before.”
I said, “I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, although I’m not sure that my being
Brown had anything to do with my being a good teacher.”
He said, “Well yeah, you know, I know, I just never had a [not White] teacher
before.”
At this moment, my White student and I established eye contact for a second.
To me, my student’s eyes were wide with potential embarrassment, the fear of
being offensive, and apologetic as well. In that moment, I understood what my
student couldn’t say. He couldn’t say that he had doubted me based upon the color
of my skin. He couldn’t say that when he first walked into class he was worried
that he couldn’t learn from a non-White professor. But he did learn. In fact, I
believe that he learned so much more than what the class was intended for. He
learned to relinquish stereotypes, extend his comfort zone, and to see his biases.
And I learned as well. I learned that my brown face means something here, prob-
ably more than I had ever imagined.
That day I walked back to my office holding back the tears of anger, of pain, of
frustration. Do all of my students read my brown body as inferior, unintelligent, and
suspect—and what about my peers, my fellow faculty? Feeling different, doubted, and
emotionally taxed is an everyday challenge of simply existing in the world of acade-
mia as a person of color. My mere presence requires a daily justification for my exis-
He couldn’t say that when he first walked into
class he was worried that he couldn’t learn from
a non-White professor.
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TEACHING IN THE LINE OF FIRE: FACULTY OF COLOR IN THE ACADEMY
7 1
tence and my right to be here. The silent and not so silent calls for justification stem
from the systemic inequities that plague people who look like me. It is the constant
comparison to dominant norms,the knowledge that perception is everything and that
faulty assumptions are being made, and incessantly feeling the need to fight the bat-
tle.The battle—real or imaginary—fuels the conversation in my head, takes away my
focus, and intensifies feelings of isolation that I can honestly say I never experienced
before. It all hurts—being a faculty member of color has brought pain in waves that
I never could have imagined, although part of me feels as though I should have
known how much this journey would hurt.
The academy, rooted in White superiority and constrained with hegemonic
practices, existed long before my arrival. I have been “thrown into a story that pre-
exists and post-exists me.”11 Yet, the story has a new chapter, “Diversity in the
Academy,” and universities have begun to acknowledge a need to be more inclu-
sive. This lofty and worthwhile goal makes for a different experience for those of
us on the margins as we bear witness to the struggle persons of color have carried
on for hundreds of years in order for people who look like us to have access to edu-
cation. Despite their efforts and ours, I remain appalled at the seeming indiffer-
ence of those who enjoy privilege at the expense of marginalized others. In the
context of race and racism, they can choose to ignore their racial privilege, they can
choose to ignore the instant credibility that comes with White skin, and they can
choose to ignore the assumption of White as good and Black and Brown as sus-
pect. I cannot choose to ignore a damn thing. I must understand, embody, and
acquiesce to Whiteness. I must learn it; I must know it. There is no space—no
place—where I can go without carrying the traces of my histories; color always
matters in my world. As I look to the future, I realize that in all likelihood I will
spend the rest of my life living in an inherently racist world and practicing in an
inherently racist academy. It is quite likely that I will hurt for the rest of my life
and I wonder if my White colleagues in the academy will recognize or dismiss my
pain. They can choose. I cannot.
We shared the above fictional counternarative on our campus with the hope
that it might help our colleagues better understand how race impacts our
lives as faculty members on a daily basis. We now share this narrative with a wider
audience with the hope that it will provide a voice for other faculty of color who
like us need the support and understanding of their colleagues. We believe that by
sharing our story other faculty members and administrators will begin to under-
stand that we cannot reap the benefits of diversity unless we create departmental
and intuitional environments that nurture professional growth and foster success
among all faculty—from both a professional and social perspective.
Social scientists have begun to develop a better understanding of the various
benefits faculty diversity contributes to higher education. For example, Jeffrey
Milem, of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of
Arizona, reports that increased faculty diversity results in more: student-centered
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approaches to teaching and learning; diverse curricular offerings; research focused
on issues of race/ethnicity and gender; and faculty of color involvement in com-
munity and volunteer service.12 Additionally, Paul Umbach, at the University of
Iowa, found that faculty of color were “… more likely to interact with students, to
employ active and collaborative learning techniques, to create environments that
increase diverse interactions, and to emphasize higher-order thinking activities in
the classroom.”13 While still emerging, research on the benefits of increased facul-
ty diversity for higher education institutions clearly demonstrates that faculty of
color make a difference in lives of the students they teach.
The above fictional narrative of teaching while Black and Brown represents our
personal interpretations of the significance of race in the academy, but prior
writings on this topic suggest that there is commonality among the themes con-
tained in our reflections. Ladson-Billings wrote about how some of her students
came to her classroom questioning whether or not she would be fair as a female
faculty member of color.14 Likewise, Fred Bonner, associate professor of education
administration at Texas A&M, noted that many Black professors experience
White classrooms filled with students who, on one hand, question their academic
credentials and, on the other hand, expect them to be funny like Cedric the
Entertainer.15 Finally, Claire Garcia, professor of English at Colorado College,
learned that her White students expected her to personally represent the fictional
literary characters they were studying; she notes that she never felt as conscious of
her race as when she stood before a class of 25 young men and women eager to
learn about what it is like to be Black in America.16 Unfortunately, the reality is
that the burden of teaching while Black and Brown makes these instructors’ expe-
rience uniquely and qualitatively different from that of their White counterparts.17
While we have no regrets about our chosen profession, our reflections have
several implications concerning the success of faculty of color who teach in PWIs.
To begin, higher education leaders need to enhance their understanding of the
range of classroom experiences faculty of color encounter in PWIs and consider
developing programs that address the various challenges faculty of color face.
Correspondingly, because research suggests that race matters in terms of how fac-
ulty members experience the classroom environment, faculty of color need to
familiarize themselves with the range of best practices related to creating inclusive
learning environments and seek out resources that enhance their overall effective-
ness in the classroom.18 Additionally, because many—but not all—faculty of color
teach courses that address diversity-related content, they will need to prepare
The burden of teaching while Black and Brown makes
these instructors’ experience uniquely and qualitatively
different from that of their White counterparts.
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themselves for addressing acts of intolerance and resistance in the classroom.19
Finally, it is imperative that educators concerned with ensuring the success of fac-
ulty of color who teach in PWIs create inclusive work environments. This will
require that the academy identify new models for creating institutional change;
pay attention to the climate and conditions under which faculty of color teach; and
signal to faculty of color that PWIs are invested in their growth, development, and
success by doing everything possible to ensure that support and resources are avail-
able. Then and only then will teaching while Black and Brown cease to feel like
teaching in the line of fire.
ENDNOTES
1. ACE report, 2005.
2. Ibid.
3. Trower, “Leveling the Field,” 2003.
4. Aguirre, Hernandez & Martinez, “Perceptions of the Workplace,” 1994; Astin, “Race and
Ethnicity,” 1997; Turner & Myers, Faculty of Color in the Academe, 2000.
5. Stanley, “Coloring the Academic Landscape,” 705.
6. Ibid.
7. McGowan, “Multicultural Teaching,” 19-22.
8. Ladson-Billings, “Preparing Teachers for Diverse Student Populations,” 1999.
9. Solorzano, “Images and Words that Wound,”1997; Yosso, “Toward a Critical Race
Curriculum,” 2002.
10. Sleeter and Delgado, “Critical Pedagogy,” 2003.
11. Lewis, “Stories I Live By,” 2006.
12. Milem, “The Educational Benefits of Diversity,” 126-169.
13. Umbach, “The Contribution of Faculty of Color to Undergraduate Education,” 337.
14. Ladson-Billings, “Silences as Weapons,” 1996.
15. Bonner, “Black Professors: On the Track but Out of the Loop,” 2004.
16. Garcia, “Emotional Baggage in a Course on Black Writers,” 1994.
17. Harlow, “Race Doesn’t Matter,” 2003.
18. See note 7 above. See also Salazar, Norton, and Tuitt, Weaving Promising Practices for
Inclusive Excellence into the Higher Education Classroom;” Tuitt,“ Realizing a More Inclusive
Pedagogy,” 2003.
19. See note 5 above.
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... Black faculty encounter negative experiences in the workplace as a consequence of their race and gender (Bonner, 2014;Croom, 2017;Dancy & Jean-Marie, 2014;Jennings, 2017;Johnson et al., 2018;McGowan, 2000;Parker & Neville, 2019;Patton & Catching, 2009;Pittman, 2012;Tuitt et al., 2009;Zambrana, 2018). A review of the literature reveals the use of terms "stressful," "harassment," "oppressive spaces," and "in the line of fire" when describing Black faculty experiences. ...
... A review of the literature reveals the use of terms "stressful," "harassment," "oppressive spaces," and "in the line of fire" when describing Black faculty experiences. The challenges experienced by Black faculty are entrenched in the fabric of institutional structures (Griffin, 2020) and occur alongside feelings of isolation given their underrepresentation at different institutional types and academic disciplines (Griffin, 2019;Louis et al., 2016;Tuitt et al., 2009). This underrepresentation can lead to an unwelcoming feeling and a lack of social connection to colleagues (Griffin et al., 2011). ...
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... Consequently, students rarely (if ever) have classes taught by faculty members of Color, which may con- Faculty members of Color are more likely than their White counterparts to be challenged by students in the classroom (Pittman, 2018;Stanley, 2006;Tuitt et al., 2009). White students often question or devalue faculty members of Color regarding their authority in the classroom and their general knowledge of subject matter (Boss et al., 2019;Stanley, 2006;Tuitt et al., 2009). As a result, faculty members of Color are more likely to receive lower teaching evaluations than their White colleagues (Huston, 2005;Reid, 2010). ...
... These experiences were similar to those of tenured and tenure-track faculty members of Color (Stanley, 2006;Tuitt et al., 2009;Turner et al., 2008). However, the contingent nature of their contracts created additional obstacles for NTFOCs. ...
... When efforts are made to disrupt the status quo, such as questioning institutional practices or advocating for equity, they are met with resistance [48]. Or, for example, when BIPOC faculty introduce critical pedagogies in the classroom, they encounter critiques that question their authority and credibility [11,47,50,51]. Such experiences serve as reminders that institutions may espouse commitments to diversity, but expect BIPOC faculty and administrators to "[suppress] their racial, ethnic, gender, and political ways of knowing and being" [47]. ...
... As noted in research [40,41,[44][45][46][47]50,51], the professional and personal risks are greater for BIPOC faculty who are often held to different standards and endure higher levels of scrutiny. Despite dilemmas encountered by BIPOC faculty, Adriel explained that what would be learned would be worth the risk, acknowledging that it could have turned out to be a "disaster": I'll know what didn't work or why it didn't work. ...
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While the education of first-generation students (FGS) has garnered the attention of scholars, educators, and policy makers, there is limited dialogue on how first-generation faculty and administrators (FGF/A)—that is, first-generation students who went on to become faculty and/or administrators—experience higher education and are engaged in enhancing equity, inclusion, and justice. Intersectional approaches, which illuminate the nexus of race, gender, and class in education, are necessary for appreciating the complexity of FGF/A experiences and liberatory practices taking shape in higher education. Narrative analysis examining nine Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) FGF/A oral histories reveal how stories of mattering and intersectional marginality are sites of communal praxis that aim to dislodge systems of power, including racism, classism, and patriarchy. This praxis involves validating the complexity of students’ academic and social lives and engaging vulnerability. The discussion encourages reflection of how communal praxis can be cultivated toward transforming the linked conditions of faculty and students.
... One such strategy is to use intersectional theory to deconstruct the ways that putatively progressive environments, such as the academy, have succeeded at constructing inequitable conditions for those who hold multiple marginalized identities. Scholars, for example, have leveraged the insights of intersectionality to persuasively argue that higher education has continually relegated the experiences of minoritized faculty to the margins (Tuitt et al., 2009;Turner et al., 2008). Contributions of minoritized faculty are minimized or exploited, their research cast as suspect (Bernal & Villalpando, 2002), and their advancement forestalled by perceptions of being unfit for leadership roles. ...
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This critical qualitative study illuminates how racially minoritized LGBTQ + faculty in the field of higher education navigate racist and heterosexist systems, leading to inordinate challenges related to tenure and promotion and deteriorating health and well-being. This system of higher education fosters isolation, hostility, racial battle fatigue, and LGBTQ + erasure offering limited support, negative institutional environments, and insufficient mentoring for faculty with multiple minoritized identities. With intersectionality as the theoretical foundation of this research, three themes emerged from the data including problematizing productivity, exposing tokenization, and the costs of staying in the academy. I posit that refusal is a necessary strategy for racially minoritized LGBTQ + faculty who navigate the neoliberal institution.
... Themes in much of the scholarship on faculty of color since the 1990s are very similar to themes found in earlier scholarship. Scholars note that that faculty of color experience the academy differently than their white peers (Alex-Assensoh, 2017;Bonner, 2004;Brown, McHatton, & Scott, 2017;Dancy & Jean-Marie, 2014;Fries-Britt, Rowan-Kenyon, Perna, Milem, & Howard, 2011;Orelus, 2013;Stanley, 2006;Tillman, 2011;Tuitt, Hanna, Martinez, Salazar, & Griffin, 2009;Turner, González, & Wood, 2008;Zellers, Howard, & Barcic, 2008). That is, faculty of color are more likely to have negative experiences during the recruitment and hiring process, in their relationships with students and colleagues, and during the promotion and tenure process. ...
Article
Racial equity, providing equal opportunities and equal access to all members of an organization, is an important topic in higher education. The imperative for racial equity is particularly important for faculty of color, who often encounter challenges with respect to recruitment and hiring, promotion and tenure, and access to mentoring relationships that can help to facilitate their career success. Racial equity is directly related to several issues in higher education: increasing campus-wide racial diversity, increasing the pipeline of tenured faculty of color, and increasing the retention rates for faculty of color. Higher education administrators are important to the process of facilitating a campus culture that values, promotes, and practices racial equity.
... URF contribute in unique ways to teaching and learning, especially in inclusive and diverse contexts (Daufin, 2001;Tuitt et al., 2009). They also contribute to the academic mission, playing a pivotal part in role modeling, improving underrepresented student access to higher education, and enhancing race relations (Daufin, 2001;Stanley, 2006b). ...
Chapter
In the United States, only 6% of the 1.5 million faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions is Black. Research shows that, while many institutions tout the idea of diversity recruitment, not much progress has been made to diversify faculty ranks, especially at research-intensive institutions. We're Not Ok shares the experiences of Black faculty to take the reader on a journey, from the obstacles of landing a full-time faculty position through the unique struggles of being a Black educator at a predominantly white institution, along with how these deterrents impact inclusion, retention, and mental health. The book provides practical strategies and recommendations for graduate students, faculty, staff, and administrators, along with changemakers, to make strides in diversity, equity, and inclusion. More than a presentation of statistics and anecdotes, it is the start of a dialogue with the intent of ushering actual change that can benefit Black faculty, their students, and their institutions.
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Derrick Bell articulated the possibilities of ethical ambitions to “live lives that matter,” to make honorable decisions, to advance morality, and to maintain relationships with those who are committed to similar goals. Guided by Bell’s premise, we are three critical race feminista theorists (CRFT) who experience academia at multiple intersections: as Chicanas from working-class families, faculty, mentors, colleagues, and friends. Through these intersections, we define our work within the parameters of ethicality, with the intent to move forward social justice, and make a difference within our communities. Our goals are often at odds with the merit- and competition-driven academy that can lead down the opposite path toward betrayal, immoral decision making, and divisiveness. In this article, we place the idea of ethical ambitions in conversation with Teresa Cordova’s discussion of colonialism in the academy to identify strategies that demonstrate ethical ambitions. This includes relationship building, collective writing and attribution mentorship, and teaching. In our work together, spanning more than a decade, we practice these strategies to survive and thrive in a space we know was not created for us. We offer this discussion to consider how we engage our praxis as critical race feminista scholars.
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Cristina Santamaría Graff is an Assistant Professor of Special Education, Urban Teacher Education at IUPUI. She has expertise in bilingual/multicultural special education and applies her skills in working with Latinx immigrant families of children with dis/abilities in family-centered projects. Her scholarship focuses on ways community engaged partnerships with families and other stakeholders can transform inequitable practices impacting youth with dis/abilities at the intersections of race, class, and other identity markers of difference. Though Cristina’s scholarship is mainly represented through academic writing, she is excited to share this poem to communicate through imagery, symbolism, and metaphor the emotional impact of being ‘othered’ as shared by several families she has had the honor of listening to and learning from. This poem is a composite of their stories.
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More historically White institutions of higher education are compelled to respond, in some way, to increased activism and awareness of continued legacies of racism and racial crises on campuses. The author suggests that how schools wrestle with their legacies of racism and/or respond to student demands to right racial wrongs on campus might be considered university acts of racial redress. Through a Critical Race Theory inspired chronicle, the author argues that seemingly positive university acts of racial redress such as policies, place un/naming, or public statements are, in fact, Racial Symbols that do little to change the material realities of racially marginalized people on campus.
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Higher education is faced with an increasingly diverse student body and historic opportunities to foster inclusive excellence, meaning a purposeful embodiment of inclusive practices toward multiple student identity groups. Although the benefits of inclusive excellence are well established, college faculty often cite barriers to promoting it in classrooms, and this creates an opening for faculty developers to support them in weaving promising practices for inclusive excellence into their teaching. This chapter highlights the practices of inclusive faculty and the methods faculty developers can use to promote inclusive excellence along five dimensions: (1) intrapersonal awareness, (2) interpersonal awareness, (3) curricular transformation, (4) inclusive pedagogy, and (5) inclusive learning environments.
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This chapter is structured around the exposition of various sources (authors of CRT articles and philosophers who influenced these authors), followed by commentaries that summarize and critique the more descriptive discussions. The reason for this unusual structure relates to the twofold purpose of the chapter. The first purpose is to describe the major theoretical elements undergirding CRT. The second purpose is to discuss the potential implications of this body of literature for the scholarly articulation of race and equity in educational policy and research. This discussion will offer a critique of CRT writing that asks whether the methods of analysis and argument, and the research agenda represented by the CRT scholarship described here, are valuable in two ways. First, do they provide insights capable of radically transforming educational policy or the study of education? Second, do they provide insights into equity issues in education that are substantial and novel?
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Research has shown how black scholars' experiences differ from those of their white counterparts in regard to research and service, but few studies have addressed the influence of race on professors' teaching experiences. In this paper I examine how and to what degree race shapes professors' perceptions and experiences in the undergraduate college classroom. I analyze how students' social and cultural expectations about race affect professors' emotional labor and management, shaping the overall nature of their jobs. The findings suggest that black professors' work in the classroom is different and more complex than that of their white colleagues because negotiating a devalued racial status requires extensive emotion management. Social constraints affect the negotiation of self and identity in the classroom, influencing the emotional demands of teaching and increasing the amount of work required to be effective.
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In this work, narrative provides the framework and storytelling, the act. Storytelling is woven through the narrative presentation of story making as meaning making. It is an attempt to show rather than to tell what stories do. It entwines the ontological and epistemological position of narrative with the demonstrative use of storytelling to exemplify the primacy of narrative in meaning making. Narrative and storytelling work together to create meaning and metameaning through story and projection. Come, listen to some stories.
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This article, based on a larger, autoethnographic qualitative research project, focuses on the first-hand experiences of 27 faculty of color teaching in predominantly White colleges and universities. The 27 faculty represented a variety of institutions, disciplines, academic titles, and ranks. They identified themselves as African American, American Indian, Asian, Asian American, Latina/o, Native Pacific Islander, and South African. This article reports on the predominant themes of the narratives shared by these faculty of color: teaching, mentoring, collegiality, identity, service, and racism. These themes, consonant with findings from the research literature, can be used to offer suggestions and recommendations for the recruitment and retention of faculty of color in higher education.