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‘Strange faces’ in the academy: experiences of racialized and Indigenous faculty in Canadian universities



This paper is based on a larger qualitative study of exclusion and belonging as experienced by members of marginalized groups in the professions. The current analysis draws on a subsample of 13 racialized and Indigenous academics at Canadian universities to examine their experiences of both everyday racism – subtle, almost intangible micro-level interactions that convey messages of not fully belonging – and overt racism and colonialism. Overt experiences were less common, though intensely painful. Though in some ways they are more straightforward to address, as they are more obvious, they also consume considerable time and energy. Instances of everyday racism and colonialism were more common, often intricately interwoven with the very fabric of the institutional culture. Their cumulative nature is exhausting. Diversity initiatives, while popular in contemporary universities, are failing to approach equity, in that they deny the need for change in institutional cultures.
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Race Ethnicity and Education
ISSN: 1361-3324 (Print) 1470-109X (Online) Journal homepage:
‘Strange faces’ in the academy: experiences of
racialized and Indigenous faculty in Canadian
Tameera Mohamed & Brenda L. Beagan
To cite this article: Tameera Mohamed & Brenda L. Beagan (2019) ‘Strange faces’ in the
academy: experiences of racialized and Indigenous faculty in Canadian universities, Race Ethnicity
and Education, 22:3, 338-354, DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2018.1511532
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Published online: 19 Sep 2018.
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Strange facesin the academy: experiences of racialized and
Indigenous faculty in Canadian universities
Tameera Mohamed
and Brenda L. Beagan
Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada;
School of Occupational
Therapy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
This paper is based on a larger qualitative study of exclusion and
belonging as experienced by members of marginalized groups in the
professions. The current analysis draws on a subsample of 13 racialized
and Indigenous academics at Canadian universities to examine their
experiences of both everyday racism subtle, almost intangible micro-
level interactions that convey messages of not fully belonging and
overt racism and colonialism. Overt experiences were less common,
though intensely painful. Though in some ways they are more straight-
forward to address, as they are more obvious, they also consume
considerable time and energy. Instances of everyday racism and colo-
nialism were more common, often intricately interwoven with the very
fabric of the institutional culture. Their cumulative nature is exhausting.
Diversity initiatives, while popular in contemporary universities, are
failing to approach equity, in that they deny the need for change in
institutional cultures.
Received 17 August 2017
Accepted 5 June 2018
Racism; colonialism;
academia; microaggressions;
faculty; higher education
Despite institutional commitments to equity in Canadian universities, racism and
colonialism continue to have profound impacts on the daily work lives of racialized
and Indigenous academics. In fact, the routine implementation of equity and diversity
policies in universities can actually veil the everyday processes of exclusion that faculty
continue to face (Ahmed 2012; Henry et al. 2017a). Gillborn writes that far from being
immune to the wider forces that create and sustain race inequalities in society, institu-
tions of higher education are especially prone to reproducing those inequalities beneath
a façade of meritocracy and color blindness(2012, 1742). Similarly, Ahmed suggests an
equality regime can be an inequality regime given new form, a set of processes that
maintain what is supposedly being redressed(2012, 8). Though there is a signicant
body of literature on racism in the academy, faculty experiences in Canada are under-
researched. Recent investigations demonstrate that faculty face racism at many levels,
including micro-level interactions, systemic disadvantages, and overt instances of hos-
tility and exclusion (Henry and Tator 2009; Henry et al. 2017b,2017a).
Drawing on 13 interviews from a larger Canada-wide study exploring the experiences of
minorityfaculty, this paper presents the everyday experiences of belonging and exclusion for
CONTACT Tameera Mohamed
2019, VOL. 22, NO. 3, 338354
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
racialized and Indigenous faculty members. All participants described everyday racism,
including experiences of microaggressions interactions generally not intended to be racist
or colonialist, but which nonetheless convey subtle messages of not-quite-belonging (Wing-
Sue 2010). Participants also described routine systems and academic cultural norms, includ-
ing institutional and epistemological racism, which aected their experiences within the
profession. Institutionalized whiteness, along with neoliberalism and an audit culture
(Ahmed 2012), coalesce to entrench a toxic culture in which racism is subsumed into
normalized practices and performance measures. These routinized expectations demand
that racialized and Indigenous faculty do extra, invisible work in order to prove legitimate
academics in both research and teaching, also in addition to meeting scholarly expectations.
Instances of overt hostility were more common than might be expected, suggesting current
equity policies are ineective in addressing even explicit forms of racism in the academy.
Literature review
Everyday racism: microaggressions and impacts
Many scholars argue that racism has not so much diminished as changed form, with
less overt processes dominating (Bonilla-Silva 2010; Essed 1991; Sue 2010). Philomena
Essed (1991) coined the term everyday racismto describe the ways in which con-
temporary racism has been integrated into everyday situations through practices. . .that
activate underlying power relations(50). Everyday racism manifests in a multitude of
subtle ways, including behaviours, humour, ways of speaking, and body language,
leaving it often unnoticed and dicult to challenge. Everyday interactions between
members of marginalized groups and dominant groups are micro-level instantiations of
macro-level power relations, practices that inltrate everyday life and become part of
what is seen as normalby the dominant group(288).
In psychology the term microaggressionshas been advanced by scholars like Wing Sue to
dene the brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, and environmental indignities,
whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative. . .
slights to the target person or group(2010, 7). What makes these experiences signicant is
that they are part of the everyday fabric of racism; while one microaggression seems insignif-
icant, they are an everyday reality for racialized people with detrimental cumulative con-
sequences. Some argue that these subtler forms of racism have a greater impact than overt
racism, in which no guesswork is involvedin deciphering the intention behind and meaning
of an incident (Wing-Sue 2010, 23). Since racial microaggressions are repetitive, those on the
receiving end are often especially attuned to their presence and have a more accurate
assessmentof their occurrence and meaning than dominant group members (Wing-Sue
2010, 47). The subtlety of microaggressions means that those on the receiving end may
experience self-doubt in their analysis, relying on each other to sanity-checktheir interpreta-
tions (Wing-Sue 2010,7475).
Racism and colonialism in the academy
In higher education, everyday racism can occur not only in individual interactions, but also
through the structure of the institution itself; the lack of administrators and tenured
professors of colour tell students and faculty of colour that they do not belong and their
likelihood of advancing in the academy is low (Huber and Solozano 2015;Wing-Sue2010).
Likewise, the language of the academy itself is a microaggression: meritocracy, colour
blindness, and insistence that the academy is an equitable institution committed to diversity
all deny the reality experienced by faculty of colour (Ahmed 2012; Henry et al. 2017a).
Scholarship on racism and colonialism in Canadian universities is growing,
though to date only a few major studies exist (Henry and Tator 2009; Henry
et al. 2017a). These and similar studies in the United States and the United
Kingdom (e.g. Ahmed 2012;RossandEdwards2016) demonstrate that formal
commitments to equality and the language of diversity in academic institutions is
often more about changing only the perception of whiteness than it is about
changing the culture and organization of the institution(Ahmed 2012, 34). Thus,
even as increasing numbers of racialized and Indigenous faculty and students
participate in higher education, universities maintain and perpetuate racist and
colonialist systems that make such participation a daily struggle and actually serve
to hinder or minimize change. Ramos and Li (2017) show that in Canada the
relative representation of racialized and Indigenous faculty is actually worsening
overtime. Moreover, when age, degree, province, immigrant status, and discipline
are taken into account, visible minority faculty earn substantially less than white
faculty, despite performing as well or better in terms of productivity measures.
Despite increases in relative numbers of minorityfaculty, racialized and
Indigenous faculty frequently report being the only such individuals in their
department or university as a whole (Henry and Tator 2012;James2012). Such
institutional isolation(Smith and Calasanti 2005) may leave them feeling isolated
and alienated, lacking important information networks without which they are less
able to participate in decisions and policy-making (Ross and Edwards 2016).
Tenure and promotion processes are particularly dicult when role models are
lacking (Henry and Tator 2012).
The challenges of tenure and promotion review are exacerbated by the fact that academic
norms are decidedly Eurocentric. When only certain types of knowledge are seen as legit-
imate, only certain types of research questions and methods count, only certain journals are
recognized, and only certain knowledges enter into curricula (Henry and Tator 2012;Ross
and Edwards 2016), this constitutes epistemological racism, a form of racism that eectively
renders the ways of knowing of some groups as lesser, unauthoritative. The kinds of research
many racialized and Indigenous faculty engage in may be deemed less scholarly than main-
streamresearch (Henry and Tator 2012;RossandEdwards2016). Moreover, they may need
to publish in lesserjournals that are more open to critical perspectives. These norms render
racialized and Indigenous faculty as illegitimate.
Hesitance to see racialized and Indigenous faculty as legitimate is also evident in student
evaluations of teaching, wherein racialized faculty are rated less favourably than white
colleagues (Ross and Edwards 2016). Proving themselves authoritative experts in the
classroom expends untold energy (e.g. Mayuzumi 2015). At the same time, alongside
their regular faculty duties, racialized and Indigenous faculty are disproportionately likely
to be involved in equity and diversity initiatives and mentoring minority students, often
experiencing futility in those endeavours (Henry and Tator 2012;RossandEdwards2016).
They may be essentialized invited to work on diversity concerns simply because of their
race even as their involvement in such work conrms stereotypes of narrow self-interest,
resulting in potential career harm. As James (2012) reports, racialized faculty face negative
repercussions whether they raise issues of equity or not.
The impacts of racism are signicant: Henry and Tator (2012) found that
racialized and Indigenous faculty report low self-esteem, physical and mental health
impacts, and serious considerations of leaving academia, demonstrating that these
daily small events and incidentshave the potential to severely aect career trajec-
tory and engagement (7879). The current study builds on the recent work of
Frances Henry and her colleagues (2017a,2017b), exploring the experiences of
racialized and Indigenous academics in Canadian universities. Here, we explicitly
tease apart instances of everyday racism and instances of more overt hostility, the
kind of thing typically understood as racism.Wehighlighttheextraworkdemanded
of racialized and Indigenous faculty in order to navigate the institutional whiteness
of academia and examine how the culture of academia perpetuates racism in the
lives of racialized and Indigenous faculty.
Our analysis draws on data from a larger study of faculty at Canadian universities who
self-identify as members of groups traditionally under-represented due to race,
Indigeneity, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, working class background, and/or
disability. Participants were recruited through researchersprofessional networks and
snowball sampling. Letters of invitation were sent to potential participants, who in turn
forwarded them to their networks. Thirty participants volunteered, from a range of
academic elds and a range of intersecting social locations. All processes were approved
by the university research ethics board.
Following discussion of informed consent, semi-structured qualitative interviews
grounded in critical theory explored everyday experiences of belonging and margin-
ality, inclusion, and exclusion. Each participant was interviewed once, for 60120 min.
Some interviews were conducted face-to-face, some by telephone; all were recorded,
transcribed verbatim, and assigned pseudonyms. Using consensus building through
weekly team meetings, data were coded by two research assistants using Atlas/ti data
analysis software. Iterative analysis involved the authors and members of the larger
team to enhance rigor. Transcripts were read repeatedly, attending to meaning
passages, moving back and forth between individual transcripts and cross-
participant comparisons. A summary narrative was returned to each participant for
feedback, as a form of member-checking.
The current paper draws on data from a subsample of 13 participants who
identied as racialized and/or Indigenous. Participants taught at universities across
Canada, in elds that include business/management/economics, law/social work/edu-
cation, arts and humanities, health/medicine, and social sciences/gender studies. Ten
of the 13 participants identied as women. The team included researchers who
identify as racialized and ethnic minority, and those who do not. Collective inter-
rogation of emerging analyses helped ensure reexivity and provided a form of
researcher triangulation to enhance credibility.
Everyday exclusion
Lack of representation
Many participants described working in departments and faculties where they were
among very few racialized faculty members; some were the only Indigenous professors
at their universities. In her department, Laurie said, I am it for diversity. . .Im the only
one in terms of ethnocultural diversity, I am the only non-white. Robert had been the
sole Indigenous faculty member at several universities, positioning him as the singular
voice for Aboriginal issues on campus:
Someone called me up and said, Im consulting with the Aboriginal community on
campus, about how theyre doing in their faculty and stapositions. . .. So, we had a
nice conversation and then at the end I said, Can you tell me who else at the university
youve been talking to?And he said, Youre it. So, I was the Aboriginal community at the
time. . .. Thats happened two or three times in my career.
Rachel was not only the sole racialized faculty member in her department, but remains
the only one in her entire eld in the country: Still today, Im the rst and only Black
professor [in my eld] teaching at a Canadian university. As Henry et al. note, under-
representation underpins, loneliness, isolation, and tokenism. Everyday racism thrives
in an atmosphere of nonrepresentation(2017a, 127).
As discussed more below, many participants were asked to participate in adminis-
trative or academic service work representing racialization or Indigeneity. While many
enjoyed this work, it was also experienced as tokenizing, especially when the work was
unconnected to academic expertise:
From the time I was hired, people started asking me to talk about women and science or
racialized minorities in science or under-represented groups in science, or bias in science.
When I started, I knew nothing about any of that, other than my personal experience. So,
the feeling that having been hired into this role, in addition to my day job, I have this other
responsibility, to represent for my race, was kind of odious, really. (Marianna)
Participants often struggled to know whether they were asked to engage in service work
for their abilities or their identity. Tokenism goes to the heart of how racialized (and
Indigenous) faculty are perceived and evaluated. Their presence is required not because
of their special abilities, aptitude or knowledge, but because of their essential nature as
members of particular groups(Henry et al. 2017a, 125). Moreover, they felt invited to
represent dierence, disguising the fact that nothing at the university really changed.
Being often the only non-white person in the room may make explicit a sense of not
belonging. As Janet described, this increases with career advancement:
I cant pretend to be surprised when I walk into a space and Im the only person of colour.
I sort of scan the room, Are there any other people of colour here?Im not even going to
think about are there any other Black people here. Thats just not going to happen, there
arent going to be any other Black people. Or that will be very rare. So now Im looking for
people of colour, or any of my Indigenous brothers and sisters. . .. And certainly, the
further you go up, like, from pre-tenure to tenure, to then as a tenured faculty member in
an administrative position, this gets more and more sort of rare.
She later commented, that at every level, it becomes a little, (sigh) theres more of a
sense that youre not supposed to be there. The What are you doing here?”’ Matt also
commented that at his university the senior administrators are still all white men.
Such experiences of not-tting make apparent the institutionalized whiteness that is the
norm in Canadian universities (Henry et al. 2017a). Racialized Others may be welcomed to
the university, but they are invited to inhabit a preexisting whiteness, a taken-for-granted
assumption that the bodies occupying that space are white bodies. As Ahmed states, To
inhabit whiteness as a nonwhite body can be uncomfortable(2012, 40). Racialized and
Indigenous faculty are present as unexpected guests, explicitly not in the position of hosts
who already occupy the space.
One way that participants dealt with lack of representation was by connecting with
other racialized and Indigenous faculty across departments and universities, often
across disciplines. Nonetheless, many participants felt isolated. When they felt a sense
of belonging in their academic positions, it was often due to other racialized colleagues
in the department or even the discipline.
Whiteness and the culture of academia
Many participants reected on the Eurocentric culture of academia, describing inten-
tional shifts and sacrices they have made to twithin it, learning academic cultural
norms and sometimes relinquishing elements of their own culture. For example, Rachel
described academic culture as ways of mainstream, coded Euro-Canadian engagement
that are not universal, [but] that all the white people who might be your colleagues
think are universal. She referred to the use of Roberts Rules in department meetings as
one example of an intensely culture-bound system that professes universality and
impartiality. This is a ubiquitous example of the way whiteness is institutionalized
(Ahmed 2012; Henry et al. 2017a), built into the taken-for-granted ways of doing that
become normalized and normative within academia.
As Ahmed notes, the informal conversations conducted in conversational spacesof
meetings and committees also establish who is expected to be present (2012, 122). Such
expectations are grounded in, and in turn ground, a culture of whiteness. Rachel
described a version of whiteness inextricably bound up with academic elitism, conveyed
through rejection of popular culture from a stance of superiority:
Theres a certain type of white professor who has totally forsaken any pop culture. . .. I think
thats racially specic. I dontnd a lot of black professors who do that, or are that unplugged
and detached from pop culture. And so the kind of jokes and conversations you can have with
people, their idea of assumed knowledge is not universal knowledge. And that really pisses me
o....You guys are so in your own world of whatever you think is universal that you dontget
that when youre citing this play and this [classical music], that not everybody knows what the
hell youre talking about. But why do I know that I have to explain to you who Beyoncé is?. . .
its still a kind of white cultural supremacy, like a certain type of white culture too, that passes
as universal and what you should know because you have a PhD.
This is precisely the way whiteness places the interests and perspectives of white people at
the centre of what is considered normal and everyday(Gillborn 2015, 278). Ahmed
describes the too-frequent experience of being the only person of colour in an academic
setting as being like walking into a sea of whiteness(2012,35).Thepresenceofafew
racialized and Indigenous faculty conrms the norm of whiteness. One of our participants
described an unpredictablebut profound sense of not-tting in the context of whiteness:
Sometimes youll be having a discussion in a faculty meeting and suddenly, in my head it
feels like a chasm opens up between me and the rest of the faculty(Marianna).
In the context of routine denial (even concealment) of systemic racism and coloni-
alism, faculty are required to engage in self-censorship (Ahmed 2012, 161), or passing
as the right kindof minority, the one who aims not to cause unhappiness or trouble
(157). Robert, an Indigenous scholar, described academia as requiring cultural perfor-
mance: Theres a lot of having to play the partof what people perceive as conven-
tional in terms of being a teacher. Theres a lot of early self-censorship that happens,
until you realize maybe you dont always have to play that part. Indigenous participants
described themselves as cultural translators within academic whiteness. Eva translated
in hiring committees, intervening to ensure Indigenous applicants were not misinter-
preted. Janine helped Indigenous students learn to perform academic culture: We have
to learn how to do that, within a context thats so culturally dierent than what were
used to. . .so that we can make ourselves understood within that academic context.
Lauren described herself as always translatingbetween the culture of academia and
the cultures of Indigenous communities where she does her research. She struggled with
faculty meetings that felt culturally irrelevant:
I just dont feel part of the conversation, generally. I think the topics that were talking
about are not necessarily ones that I think are the most important things to be talking
about. You know? A lot of meetings are like that. I feel like theyre just air.
Community meetings Lauren attends start with a teaching from an elder to create an
atmosphere of presence and humilityand respect for each persons story. She had
attempted to bring this to academic meetings, asking colleagues to start with a few
minutes of talking about things that have happened over the past month, so we get to
know one another and just foster an atmosphere of respect. It was maintained briey
then fell away, sacriced to busy agendas: Like, thats just sort of not important. . .it just
falls othe radar, or people just do it as a token. Not only does this highlight the
emphasis on eciency that dominates the neoliberal academic context, but at the same
time, stretching beyond business-as-usual in institutionalized whiteness requires racia-
lized and Indigenous faculty to be insistent, persistent, keeping issues of equity on the
agenda (Ahmed 2012). Such insistence is risky, positioning the individual already an
interloper as pushy, a problem, disruptive. It is also simply exhausting.
Not belonging: theresthis strange face that shouldnt be in that hallway
Participants routinely described feeling that they did not belong in academia, most
often as a result of micro-level interactions that positioned them as outsiders. Such
instances of everyday racism (Essed 1991) frequently began in graduate school, where
several participants had been discouraged from continuing their studies, regardless of
excellent performance. Participants interpreted these experiences as reecting an unac-
knowledged belief that racialized and Indigenous people do not belong in academia.
The power of everyday racism lies in its repetition, the accumulation of messages of not
belonging, which participants described as occurring consistently throughout their
academic careers.
Terms of address can be an everyday means of conveying that you are an unexpected
body in the halls of academe. Sara Ahmed (2012) described being the only person of
colour and the only woman at an academic event; while others were introduced by title
and last name, she was introduced as Sara. To insist on the proper title means
demanding what is simply given to others. . .. [Yet] your insistence conrms the
improper nature of your residence(Ahmed 2012, 177). Interestingly, our participants
reported being addressed by students both overly formally and overly informally
whichever diered from the forms of address used for their colleagues. For example,
Aayas students refused to call her by her rst name, though that was the norm in her
department. In contrast, Rachels students consistently called her by her rst name
despite her requests for more formal address, and despite addressing her colleagues by
title. She interpreted this as not seeing Black women as legitimate academics: Part of
that is the disrespect and the unfamiliarity, in terms of how they read [me] and what
they think is possible in terms of Black femaleness.
Rachel suggested it was more than being unfamiliar with Black people as professors,
but actual discomfort with Black authority and expertise: White students are uncom-
fortable with someone that they dont identify with being the purveyor of knowledge at
the front of the class. The normative whiteness that attaches to the role of professor
meant that some racialized and Indigenous faculty were mistaken for students, as
Marianna described: When I rst started here, they would knock on the door and
say Oh, is Professor [name] here?Theyd look over my shoulder (laugh). Similarly,
Janet described, People thinking Well, you must be a student. You cant be a faculty
member”’. Both Marianna and Janet interpreted being misread as students as revealing
an institutional given that a professor will/should be white. As Ahmed argues, Being
asked whether you are the professor is a way of being made into a stranger, of not being
at home in a category that gives residence to others(2012, 177).
The most explicit instance of being made into a strangerwas described by Laurie.
After completing multiple degrees and moving into a teaching position at the same
university, she had spent many years on campus, in the same buildings. Yet, she was
stopped one day by security and asked for ID, while three white colleagues (all new to
campus) proceeded unquestioned:
IthoughtThats strange.Andtheydidnt even notice. We were all chatting, all of us,
chatting. And they continue chatting, and Im stopped.. .. You begin to question yourself,
when you get these things all the time. So I went home that evening and it was still bothering
me. But I didnt want to overreact to it. And so the next day I asked my colleagues, Did you
notice what happened? Did you see that I was stopped there? And they were like, Oh yeah,
yeah. I think you were. But they didnt really even make anything of it.
Laurie was frustrated that her colleagues did not see this as problematic. She later
encountered the security person who explained that Laurie had not looked familiar,
while the white faculty members were recognized: Me not looking familiar. Im the one
Black face that is around the building all the time. . .I didnt look familiar because I
dont belong there. Theres this strange face that shouldnt be in that hallway.
In a context of institutionalized whiteness, non-white bodies are rendered both
invisible and hyper-visible: Bodies stick out when they are out of place(Ahmed
2012, 41). Laurie was seen in a way her white colleagues were not, yet unseen in that
she remained unfamiliar. The ability of white bodies to move about institutional spaces
with ease, not noticing who is or is not present, conrms the normative expectation of
whiteness. Our participant Rachel suggested she is visible as a Black woman because she
is in the position of professor beyond her station:
Theres a certain kind of white person who. . .would be more comfortable with me as a
janitor, because thats what Im supposed to be doing. But as a professor, its like, No,
youre supposed to be in your place, which is always already beneath me. So, theresa
certain type of racism thats reserved for so called over-achieving blacks.
Experiences of everyday racism in academia from being misread as a student to being
treated as an interloper send a message to racialized and Indigenous faculty that they
do not fully belong, that they remain a strange facein the academy. Yet, each
individual instantiation of power relations, each incident, is subtle and open to inter-
pretation. As Laurie said, you begin to question yourself. This uncertainty, this guess-
work(Wing-Sue 2010, 23) attached to everyday racism takes its own emotional toll.
Marianna described a powerful member on a committee ignoring everything she said.
When two trusted colleagues later conrmed, That guy didnt listen to anything you
said!she felt vindicated:‘“Im not just imagining it. Its not just that I made weak
points.And thats the problem with all of it, is that it can just erode your condence if
youre not careful. Though those on the receiving end of microaggressions are often
attuned to these experiences and have a more accurate assessment of their meaning, the
failure of others to recognize it can raise self-doubt and uncertainty. Thus, everyday
racism may contribute to low self-esteem, low self-condence, hopelessness, and poorer
physical, emotional, and mental health (Henry et al. 2017a,2017b).
Overt racism: the illegitimateacademic
Though universities may overtly commit to diversity and inclusion (Universities
Canada 2017), and to challenging the existence of racism and colonialism in the
institution (Ahmed 2012), the racialized and Indigenous faculty we interviewed
reported numerous instances of overt racism, such as ignorant or hostile comments
from colleagues and students. These denitely contributed to a climate in which many
of our participants stated that they saw colleagues as acquaintances but not as friends,
and spent as little time on campus as possible. Some instances of overt racism
detrimentally aected tenure and promotion.
Racialized and Indigenous faculty described having course evaluations and positive
feedback removed from their les, making this information unavailable during tenure
and promotion considerations. For example, Rachels department chair received a
sudden inux of positive emails from community members about an event Rachel
had organized; they later disappeared:
She was actually upset with me. . . She was getting all of these letters about how wonderful
the event was and how I should be tenured immediately. And said if I had put these people
up to this, it wasnt going to do me any good. So, that taught me a lesson in You know, I
was aware that if I failed, there would be repercussions, but succeeding could be punished
as well. But when I went up for tenure then, a couple years later, I wrote to her and said
Can I get the letters? Theyre not in my le. And she claimed to not know that the letters
existed. So, she destroyed them.
Similarly, Janine received almost-perfect evaluations for a course she taught, only to
have the student comments lostby the department secretary:
When they did the student evaluations at the end of the year, the secretary told me, Oh
yeah, you got really good marks in your [Indigenous content] course, but whats the point?
They were all Indians in your class, werent they?’‘So, where are my comments?’‘Oh, they
got lost. And I had, like, a 4.8 out of 5.
In both cases, the assumption seemed to be that racialized and Indigenous faculty members
could not possibly be performing well enough to receive legitimate positive feedback, and any
such feedback is either coerced or evidence of intra-racial favouritism acritiquenot
typically levelled against white faculty who receive evaluations from majority white students.
Participant credibility was also questioned in relation to employment equity hiring.
Many people were accused of being unqualied, hired only for their race rather than their
qualications or performance. Janet was constantly undermined despite knowing that she
was an exceptional candidatewhen she was hired: I knew I was a strong candidate.
Which didnt stop people from implying, at the same time. . .Oh, you know, they just
hired her, because they had to get a Black woman in the department”’. For Janet, the
repeated message was, Youre here under false pretenses. Employing the myth of
colour-blind meritocracy, preferential hiring becomes cast as a threat to potential excel-
lence, which is understood to rely on hiring the best candidate (Henry et al. 2017a). The
structural advantages of white privilege are invisible in the context of institutionalized
whiteness, rendering visible only the advantages experienced by those who arrive through
employment equity, which are perceived as unfair (Ahmed 2012, 157). As Janine said,
Students would write things in my student evaluations, saying Why do we have an
unqualied armative action person teaching us?and Why is this Indian here?”’
Challenges to the legitimacy of racialized and Indigenous academics came from
faculty, sta, and students. Janine had been facing such overt challenges since she
was a student; when she performed well on assignments, she was told the professors
an Indian loveror was accused of plagiarism: . . .but they wouldnt make a formal
[accusation], so it got read by dierent people and the grade went from 95% to 90% to
85% to 80%, (laugh) to 75%. The underlying message Janine interpreted was, Youre
not smart enough to be here. Later, as a programme coordinator, Janine faced overt
racism from a stamember who joked and scoed about Indigenous spiritual rituals,
and refused to do things Janine asked her to do.
Students commonly demonstrated overt racism, often in anonymous course evalua-
tions though a few people had experienced outright, hostile, racist attacks in class.
Course evaluations hold serious ramications for faculty and are problematic for racialized
and Indigenous professors (Henry et al. 2017a). As Rachel noted, there is stuthat people
will say, do, and put on women of colour faculty that I know they would never do to a white
guy. Some participants received course evaluations attacking their qualications, but
equally common were comments about appearance and accent. For Laurie and Fathima,
accents were repeatedly raised as shortcomings in course evaluations. Even though she
adjusts her teaching to account for her accent, Azedeh reported, Students seem to associate
not doing well in a course with the accent of the professor, or any other shortcoming of the
professor that they can nd. Janine noted that Indigenous colleagues received evaluations
asking why they wear beads and feathers to class?As Rachel said, there are too many ways
in which students who dont like your identity will attack you through an evaluation.
Again, this may stem from racialized and Indigenous faculty being unexpected occupants
of the professor position, presumed less competent, but also the target of hostility for
having moved beyond their expected station in life.
Administrators were also known to engage in systematically disadvantaging specic
faculty, particularly through course assignments. Several participants noted that racia-
lized and Indigenous professors are disproportionately assigned courses that students
dislike, consequently receiving poorer evaluations. Rachel was assigned multiple unpop-
ular research methods courses at once, which she argued tend to get assigned to white
women and people of colour: Students often resent methods courses because theyre
required, and then white women and people of colour get marked down on their
teaching evaluations, which then adversely impacts us when we come up for tenure.
Fathimas courses were pushed to the spring/summer sessionwhich lowers enrolment;
she was rarely assigned courses in her area of expertise. According to participants,
Indigenous faculty are routinely assigned courses that conict with Indigenous ways of
knowing; if they choose to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into their teaching, they
face student resistance, harsh criticism, and poor evaluations:
Students really resisted hearing about Aboriginal [perspectives]. . .. And [instructors] got
really poor teaching evaluations from their students. And I know theyre good teachers
because Ive watched them teach and known other classes theyve done better. And theyre
really ridden hard by the students in those settings, to not vary from the norm of what
[students] perceive as the conventional type of [content]. (Robert)
The absence of courses that reect Indigenous perspectives illustrates the institutionalized
whiteness of the university through what is deemed legitimate academic material.
Students perpetuate this view through teaching evaluations that punish faculty who
attempt to incorporate alternative perspectives into the canon. Indigenous faculty are
often caught in a double bind, forced to choose between teaching material that conicts
with Indigenous ways of knowing or risking career consequences from unfavourable
course evaluations. Course assignments and evaluations are understood as routine,
normalized components of business-as-usual for university professors objective, neutral,
and fair (Gillborn 2015). Yet, these ostensibly egalitarian colour-blindpractices camou-
age the distinct and detrimental impact they have on racialized and Indigenous faculty.
Additional work: we get pulled too many ways
In addition to their regular teaching and research duties, many participants were
involved in unusually high levels of service work, often involving equity and diversity
initiatives. This meant hours of additional work each week that signicantly detracted
from their research. Eva pointed out that lack of representation of Indigenous faculty
means everybody wants us to be on their committeeswith the weight of equity issues
falling on very few shoulders. Marianna noted this means racialized faculty get oered
interesting service, but it also means they get oered every bit of service that comes
along. While Indigenous and racialized academics often agree to sit on committees
where diversityis sought, this may be highly strategic, as noted by Laurie: If youre not
at the table, then where are you? Probably on the menu, where youll be eaten up.
Many people participated willingly, even eagerly, in equity-related work, nding passion
and sense of value there.
At the same time, however, the burden is high. Some have called this a race taxor
cultural taxation(Henry et al. 2017a), extra service work that contributes to exhaustion
and burnout. Lauren described routinely being asked to, or being told that youre going
to sit on things because they need someone whos Aboriginal. This seemed especially true
for the Indigenous scholars, who all agreed, We get pulled too many ways.. .you have to
be really alert about not wearing yourself out(Eva). Robert saw junior scholars being
given administrative roles more suited to people 20 years inand not having mentorship
to negotiate equitable workloads. Moreover, that extra service work is not counted:
Theres a lot of things that Im asked to do over and above what others in the academy
would be asked to do, just by nature of the fact that I identify as Aboriginal. And I dont
think that thats acknowledged. And they dont measure that when youre thinking about
tenure and promotion. . . (Lauren)
Eva attempted to account for the race tax, the toll on productivity:
Lets say I have six or seven hours more a week than other people, for things [service
work]. So what, thats almost a day a week I lose, that you know, thats probably three or
four weeks of extra stua year, which every two years, that would be an article.
Service work is essential to a university, yet not necessarily highly valued (Henry et al.
2017a, 289). This may be particularly true for service regarding equity issues, despite
university proclamations regarding the importance of diversity: If diversity and equity
work is less valued by organizations than other kinds of work, then the commitment of
some stato diversity might reproduce their place as beneathother stawithin the
hierarchies of organizations(Ahmed 2012, 135).
Some of the extra work particularly mentoring and supporting racialized and
Indigenous students felt meaningful and rewarding, even if it also felt like a duty
and additional work. Lauries experience as a student of not seeing any Black professors
you can go to and talk toinforms her own approach to mentoring students:
Even when you have your own quota of students that you can supervise, you see a student,
a Black student in my case, who is struggling and you want to be on their committee so
you can help. That is an additional burden that you take on.
Similarly, when Janine was a graduate student, an Indigenous mentor was critical to her
success: from guidance in applying to graduate schools, to sharing childcare, to seeking
out spiritual healing ceremonies when needed. For Eva, mentoring Indigenous students
even on matters unrelated to their academic work was a professional responsibility, a
duty to her home community. As Henry et al. (2017a, 164) point out, despite the
diculties, the exhaustion. . .racialized faculty will continue to put in the extra time
because we feel that we cannot refuse, not only due to moral commitment to commu-
nities but also due to a (stated or unstated) sense that this is why they were hired.
Given the experiences of being cast as illegitimate academics, it is not surprising
that many participants perceived they needed to work harder than their white collea-
gues to be seen as equally good:
If my colleagues were publishing two articles a year, I have to publish three. So at least I
know when theyre looking at my le, theyre not going to nd something that is not equal
to what other people have. They should always nd something thats more. (Laurie)
Yusuf described colleagues routinely asking why he works so much, despite being a full
professor: The glass ceiling is there, very clear, but you also need to work harder than
your colleagues, at least you feel, maybe you feel that you have to work harder.
Part of that extra work entailed defending their scholarship. Community-engaged
research was devalued, seen as not meeting expectations in terms of what counts as
scientic knowledge. . .the work that is valued(Laurie). Several people found their research
on issues concerning race or Indigeneity was dismissed as biasedand lacking rigor. Janet
said, If youre a Black woman doing research on Black issues, theressomethingshy about
that. . .doing research thats not considered sort of the important research questions.
Janines research on an aspect of colonialism was dismissed: People didnt really consider
it a relevant topic. She went on to say, [long pause] It wasnt really important. It wasnt. I
mean, it was only important to me. Right?. ..I wanted to contribute something. And then it
just ended up being trashed.. ..Maybe it was too personal. It was too [pause]–’ This nal it
was too–’ is painful. It suggests the kind of low self-condence, hopelessness, and inter-
nalized doubt that others have noted among racialized and Indigenous faculty (Henry et al.
2017b). It speaks of a distressing sense of failure to twithin the overwhelming whiteness
of academia (Ahmed 2012). Janine said elsewhere in her interview, Im really, in terms of
my professional development, a failure. Like, I have failed. I dont know why. I dontknow
how. I dontknowifIm not smart enough, if Im not good enough, if–’
Finally, the extra work of challenging discrimination and racism through human rights
and equity processes cannot be underestimated. Four people had been involved with such
complaints, some more than once. Fathima said everything is a ght for me, describing
repeated conicts with her department head. She had had to bring complaints to the
harassment oce: Idont want to make a harassment complaint. I dont want this. But,
this is not fair. It should not happen. Battles over discrimination took a high emotional toll,
but also had career impacts. Rachel described to her chair the impacts of having to ght a
discrimination case: What I said was I want on the record that Ive lost months of my
research. . . [When] I come up for tenure, and youre going Wheres your seventeen
books?I just lost a couple in the battle. In that instance the discrimination complaint
was levelled by white students but supported by her department chair. Others have noted
the ineectiveness of existing processes for addressing equity matters, to the point where
many faculty see no point pursuing claims (Henry et al. 2017a). Not surprisingly, several
participants said racialized and Indigenous faculty need to choose their battles.
There is labour involved in being racialized and Indigenous faculty in institutions
infused with whiteness. Racialized and Indigenous faculty are unexpected bodiesin
academia, requiring they work to ease the tensions of their presence: The body that causes
their discomfort (by not fullling an expectation of whiteness) is the one that must work
hard to make others comfortable(Ahmed 2012, 41). There is work in challenging or
deciding not to challenge preconceptions. There is work in building connection across
not belonging. There is work in being dierent enough to represent diversity yet not so
much so as to embody the negative perceptions of your group. There is work in making
space for others. There is work in deciding whether and how to respond to racism, and in
the responding itself. As Ahmed (2012, 174) notes, only the continual practical labour of
coming up againstthe institutionallows its whiteness to become apparent. She describes
this as going against the ow, akin to the experience of going the wrong way in a crowd,
requiring great eort (Ahmed 2012,186).
Assumptions of whiteness have exacted an incalculable cost for many racialized and
Indigenous scholars. They rob the academy and the broader society of a wealth of talent
and the invaluable heterogeneity of people, their knowledge, and the perspectives that
could make universities more equitable, diverse, and excellent (Henry et al. 2017b, 311).
Equality regimes and diversity policies have become the standard, ocially endorsed
by university presidents in Canada (Universities Canada 2017) and usually touted most
volubly in response to a crisis or public scandal. Yet, our results suggest racism and
colonialism continue to have a profound impact on racialized and Indigenous faculty at
Canadian universities across disciplines and geographic regions. Here, we echo the
conclusions of a recent Canadian study (Henry et al. 2017a,2017b), and point to the
argument of Ahmed (2012) in the UK, that diversity measures are non-
performatives, ineective at best and hindering eect at worst. Not only is racism
not ameliorated by income and social status in the professoriate, but in fact is compli-
cated by hierarchy, neoliberal managerialism, and institutionalized whiteness.
Our participants were isolated, few in number with increasing scarcity as people
moved up the hierarchy. This under-representation fuels both tokenism and the burden
of extra service demands. Both informal conversations rife with culture-bound elitism,
and the structure of meetings conveyed messages of not belonging. Faculty were
undermined by students and sabotaged by colleagues and staseemingly uncomfortable
with racialized and Indigenous people in positions of authority. Contemporary uni-
versities are simultaneously neoliberal and archaic, emphasizing entrepreneurial inno-
vation and productivity alongside conventional modes of hierarchy that stretch back
centuries. This is a perfect context for competition, rivalry, distrust, isolation, super-
iority, and egoism, all of which exacerbate the power imbalances of racism while
making them even harder to see. While all faculty are aected by power relationships
with more senior colleagues and administrators, it is notable that racialized and
Indigenous faculty are also vulnerable to power plays by students and sta. Moreover,
the potential critiques of and challenges to business-as-usual are silenced when toxic
power hierarchies leave them unsafe to speak out.
Individualist meritocracy believed to be objective, neutral, and egalitarian has
long been a mainstay of university hierarchy. This has increased exponentially with the
promulgation of neoliberal regimes of performance(Morrissey 2015) and an audit
culture(Ahmed 2012). In the university-as-corporation, the value of academics is
measured through performance indicators: grant funding, patents, journal impact
factors, citation indices, social media likes, and shares. These ostensibly universal,
colour-blind measures leave most faculty feeling they are never good enough
(Watereld, Beagan, and Weinberg 2018), but when standards of academic excellence
are encoded with white settler cultural norms and expectations they are particularly
destructive to racialized and Indigenous faculty. All knowledge claims, and all
evaluations of knowledge claims, bear the ngerprints of the social communities that
produce them (Harding 1991). Academic performance standards devalue the potentially
transformative knowledges and practices racialized and Indigenous faculty bring to
universities, which could enhance excellence (Henry et al. 2017a; Ross and Edwards
2016). Instead faculty must ght for recognition of their research, teaching, and
administrative service, particularly when they face epistemological racism in challenging
the canon or employ decolonizing research methods. Excellence the coveted status of
each university is seen as undermined by attending to equity, broadening under-
standings of quality performance (Ahmed 2012).
As Ahmed argues, adding people to the university who look dierent, adding in colour
and cultural dierence, conrms the whiteness of what was already in place(2012,33).In
the context of institutionalized whiteness, racialized and Indigenous academics are unex-
pected guests, occupants who do not meet the expectations of whiteness. Institutionalized
whiteness is preserved when they are expected to t with little to no attempts made to
accommodate, respect or encourage their presence and dierences in interests, scholar-
ships, ways of knowing and understanding the world(James 2012, 135). Our participants
described numerous ways institutional whiteness positions them as illegitimate academics;
their work is devalued and their qualications questioned, aecting considerations for
promotion and tenure, but also engendering a profound sense of failure for some.
Yet belief in meritocracy, earned advantage, feeds a wilful blindness to the pernicious
entrenchment of whiteness throughout academia. It is hard to see and hard to name.
Silence is soul-destroying to those experiencing oppression, while speaking out casts
them as the problem(Ahmed 2012), over-reacting or wrong-headed, disturbing the
comforts of business-as-usual. Racialized and Indigenous interlopersin academia are
faced with negative consequences whether they speak out or not (James 2012).
Attempting to address racism through equity processes that exist expressly for that
purpose takes an enormous toll of time and energy, on top of already-excessive service
work, student mentoring (Henry and Tator 2012; Ross and Edwards 2016) and striving
to produce even more than their white colleagues to ensure their place in the academy
is not open to question (James 2012). Until university cultures change, until institu-
tional whiteness is undermined, racialized and Indigenous faculty will remain strange
facesin the hallways of academia. This is unacceptable.
This study is limited by reliance on a small sample, which nonetheless included
considerable heterogeneity. There is a risk of essentializing race when experiences
across a wide range of racialized groups, including Indigenous scholars, are analysed
together. While there is value in seeing the similarities across groups, nuances of
dierent ways racism and colonialism play out may be lost. We have not here teased
apart the dierences among disciplines, nor the inevitable intersections of race and
Indigeneity with other social identities, such as gender identity, sexuality, social class
background, disability, or immigration history. Continued attention to such nuances is
much needed in the Canadian context.
We want to thank participants as well as the rest of the research team: Kim Brooks, Merlinda
Weinberg, Bea Watereld, and Brenda Hattie.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
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... Institutions of higher education have been the slow to recruit certain sub-specializations, which could open space for Indigenous faculty whose "research areas relate to their own history, traditions, and social problems," however, the devaluing of community work compared to peer-reviewed publications in Western academic journals disadvantage community focused Indigenous scholars (Henry, 2012). Finally, Indigenous faculty have also expressed fear of losing their Indigenous identity while teaching and researching in oppressive settings as well as being racialized by students in teacher evaluations (Council of Ontario Universities, 2020;Fiarcloth, 2017;Mohamed and Beagan, 2019). ...
... Although we are seeing more Indigenous scholars being hired into tenure track positions, they still face unique challenges. Our findings are consistent with other studies that have queried Indigenous faculty regarding the challenges they experience (Galloway et al., 2020;Henry, 2012;Kennedy et al., 2020;Mohamed and Beagan, 2019). Issues related to the emotional burden of being the representative of their community, having to take on additional service, and struggling with the competing interests of service and teaching in relation to time for research and publication. ...
Faculty research agendas are informed by and intertwined with the evaluation process. One’s research agenda influences productivity, choice in methodology, and dissemination decisions. Indigenous researchers often undergo a dual evaluation process—one with their academic institution and another with their Indigenous communities. Indigenous researchers, situated in the liminal space between these two spheres, need control over the research process in order to conduct the type of research their communities desire, while meeting the standards of their institution. Using a series of talk stories with Indigenous faculty, this article explores how the tenure process often is a barrier to Indigenous research sovereignty. Indigenous faculty, in this study, articulated feeling lonely and, at times, ill-prepared due to a lack of mentors, prior traumatic academic experiences, and the weight of the many facets of a faculty position. They also noted a disconnect between their institutional processes and Indigenous methods and felt that administration needed to make changes, especially in terms of faculty evaluation through the tenure criteria. Improving the tenure process for Indigenous faculty could have rippling effects beyond individual faculty, expanding into Indigenous communities by providing space for Indigenous faculty to conduct important research that is relevant to their communities.
... Black, Indigenous, and other racialized faculty members also tell of unfair and alienating experiences in universities. Mohamed and Beagan (2019) found in their study of racialized faculty in Canada that they are often targets of overt racism through "ignorant or hostile comments from colleagues and students" (p. 346), and their work was often deemed inadequate and lacking objectivity and/or academic rigor (p. ...
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Following the mass demonstrations and calls for action in response to George Floyd’s murder, universities and colleges across the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States released statements avowing support for Black students, staff, and scholars, and expressing general concern about anti-Black racism. With a focus on the UK, Canada, and the US, this paper uses the lens of neoliberalism, anti-racism, racial capitalism, and interest convergence to discuss the social, political, and educational contexts in higher education (HE) in the three societies in the wake of Floyd’s death. Focusing on key issues pertaining to universities’ responses to claims of inequities and racism—unconscious bias training; the hiring of Black faculty; and the securitization and policing of university campuses—this paper raises concerns about the various approaches of some HE institutions that do not address systemic change; as well, the paper offers some reflections from each of the authors’ based on their contextual positions.
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Thick description of qualitative findings is critical to improving the transferability of qualitative research findings as it allows researchers to assess their applicability to other contexts and settings. However, what thick description entails and how it should be carried out is often missing or insufficiently described. While expert qualitative researchers may be familiar with the concept, the wide variety of meanings and interpretations of thick description in the literature may make it difficult for novice qualitative researchers to understand this concept when reporting qualitative findings. The purpose of this paper is to propose the "MIRACLE" narrative framework for providing thick description in qualitative research. We developed this framework based on a critical review of theoretical literature about thick description and writing in qualitative research, as well as our personal experiences conducting, writing, and publishing qualitative studies. The proposed framework can be valuable for improving the reporting quality and transferability of qualitative research findings.
ABSTRACT The high number of displaced people in the world has led to many challenges for refugees, including the interruption of their academic careers. This, coupled with anti-refugee rhetoric and strict immigration and integration policies in host countries, has exacerbated the exclusion of refugees from academia. Higher education institutions have special responsibilities to realise the social inclusion of minorities, including refugees. While the entire academic community can play a role, the onus is primarily on academic leaders such as chancellors, rectors, deans, and heads of departments, and their deputies to create a genuinely inclusive academic environment. These key figures should at least realise that granting access is only one step in realising the social inclusion of refugees into higher education. In this commentary, I highlight some actions academic leaders can take to facilitate the social inclusion of refugees into academia.
Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (J.E.D.I.) goals have gained wide acceptance in higher education systems. However, despite many efforts to infuse J.E.D.I. principles into educational institutions, the implementation of these goals has remained elusive. This chapter addresses the current order of systems and provides the background for envisioning a truly integrative ecological system that helps us reconfigure currently discriminatory and exclusionary systems. It then shows how an integrative ecological system provides new spaces for a successful integration of J.E.D.I. principles even though we need to be aware of the challenges and constraints to an integrative ecosystem. The chapter's conclusion provides possibilities for change and possibilities for integrating J.E.D.I. as part of a reconfigured academic ecosystem.
Purpose: Research has shed light on the employment barriers faced by individuals with disabilities, and by racialized people. The challenges faced by people belonging to both marginalized groups are less well-understood. The purpose of this scoping review was to examine existing research on labour market and workplace experiences of racialized people with disabilities, and to identify how ableism and racism intersect to shape employment experiences and outcomes. Methods: Seven international databases were searched, covering the period from 2000 to April 2022. Four reviewers independently conducted the screening, and data extraction and analysis were performed on 44 articles that met our inclusion criteria. Results: The findings highlighted rates of workplace ableism and racism (including discrimination allegations and perceived discrimination); types and forms of experiences arising from the intersection of ableism and racism (including unique individual stereotyping and systemic and institutional discrimination); and the role of other demographic variables. The intersection of ableism and racism impacted labour market outcomes, well-being in the workplace, and career/professional advancement. Conclusions: Our review highlights the need for greater in-depth research focusing explicitly on the intersection of ableism and racism (and of other forms of discrimination), to better understand and address the barriers that racialized people with disabilities face in employment.
Three decades have passed since the start of the largest immigration wave in Israeli history, comprised of around one million Russian-speaking Jews from the FSU. This study examines the professional and personal experiences of individuals from the “1.5 generation” – those who immigrated in childhood – now employed as senior faculty in Israeli academia. Recent studies have examined the integration of immigrants from this “1.5 generation” into Israeli society, and their sense of identity and belonging. However, no study has focused on the integration of this generation within academia. The study uses a narrative approach, emphasising participants’ stories from their own perspectives, focusing on subjective processes of integration and professional identity formation. We employ the notion of cultural, social, and resilience capitals to shed light on integration hurdles faced by immigrants – from a community largely perceived as a model minority within Israeli society – when accessing elite social spaces. Our findings highlight differences in the cultural, social, and resilience capitals required and valued in their new environment. Our participants shared how they creatively forged new forms of capitals, sometimes by assimilating completely, sometimes by rebelling and emphasising their separate identity, as well as developing super resilience capital based on international connections.
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The article explores the utility of intersectionality as an aspect of critical race theory (CRT) in education. Drawing on research with Black middle-class parents in England, the article explores the intersecting roles of race, class, and gender in the construction and deployment of dis/ability in education. The author concludes that intersectionality is a vital aspect of understanding race inequity but that racism retains a primacy for critical race scholars in three key ways: namely, empirical primacy (as a central axis of oppression in the everyday reality of schools), personal/autobiographical primacy (as a vital component in how critical race scholars view themselves and their experience of the world), and political primacy (as a point of group coherence and activism).
This article is based on data from a four-year national study of racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian universities. Its main conclusion is that whether one examines representation in terms of numbers of racialized and Indigenous faculty members and their positioning within the system, their earned income as compared to white faculty, their daily life experiences within the university as workplace, or interactions with colleagues and students, the results are more or less the same. Racialized and Indigenous faculty and the disciplines or areas of their expertise are, on the whole, low in numbers and even lower in terms of power, prestige, and influence within the University.
The mission statements and recruitment campaigns for modern Canadian universities promote diverse and enlightened communities. Racism in the Canadian University questions this idea by examining the ways in which the institutional culture of the academy privileges Whiteness and Anglo-Eurocentric ways of knowing. Often denied and dismissed in practice as well as policy, the various forms of racism still persist in the academy. This collection, informed by critical theory, personal experience, and empirical research, scrutinizes both historical and contemporary manifestations of racism in Canadian academic institutions, finding in these communities a deep rift between how racism is imagined and how it is lived. With equal emphasis on scholarship and personal perspectives, Racism in the Canadian University is an important look at how racial minority faculty and students continue to engage in a daily struggle for safe, inclusive spaces in classrooms and among peers, colleagues, and administrators.
What does diversity do? What are we doing when we use the language of diversity? Sara Ahmed offers an account of the diversity world based on interviews with diversity practitioners in higher education, as well as her own experience of doing diversity work. Diversity is an ordinary, even unremarkable, feature of institutional life. Yet diversity practitioners often experience institutions as resistant to their work, as captured through their use of the metaphor of the "brick wall." On Being Included offers an explanation of this apparent paradox. It explores the gap between symbolic commitments to diversity and the experience of those who embody diversity. Commitments to diversity are understood as "non-performatives" that do not bring about what they name. The book provides an account of institutional whiteness and shows how racism can be obscured by the institutionalization of diversity. Diversity is used as evidence that institutions do not have a problem with racism. On Being Included offers a critique of what happens when diversity is offered as a solution. It also shows how diversity workers generate knowledge of institutions in attempting to transform them.
This conceptual article utilizes critical race theory (CRT) to explain how everyday forms of racism – racial microaggressions – emerge in the everyday experiences of People of Color. We provide a framework for understanding and analyzing racial microaggressions that demonstrates how everyday racist events are systemically mediated by institutionalized racism (i.e. structures and processes), and guided by ideologies of white supremacy that justify the superiority of a dominant group (whites) over non-dominant groups (People of Color). To demonstrate the conceptual utility of the framework, we utilize historical and contemporary examples of racial micoraggressions, and offer varied ways to use the framework in critical race research. We argue racial microaggressions can be a powerful ‘tool’ for identifying, disrupting, and dismantling the racism that marginalizes, subordinates and excludes People of Color in and outside of education.
While individuals of note have been documented, there has been a paucity of research into the collective voices of Asian women faculty in higher education. To fill this gap, the study brings forward the narratives of nine Asian women faculty members in the Canadian academy who have roots in East Asia. Employing the concept of Orientalism within a transnational feminist perspective, I argue that the historically produced Orientalist discourses of Asian women are still prevalent in contemporary society, including the academy. This article highlights two major themes: ‘Oriental’ others – being ‘Asian’; and ‘Oriental’ women – questioned authority. This article concludes by pinpointing some implications of the research within the analytical lens and connecting the topic to the general equity issues in higher education institutions.