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Diversity and Whiteness in the California Community Colleges: Recommendations Toward Institutional Transformation

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The California Community College system is one of the most significant and vital engines for educational, economic, and personal growth opportunities in California, and particularly for Residents of Color and low income. While many faculty are actively working to create more equitable college cultures and classrooms, transformation will only happen with “the commitment of [our] institutions and the unwavering support of [our] administrations. It is extremely difficult and constant work, but that is what makes it so necessary” (Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson 94). Our colleges must “confront racism, power, and privilege at all levels of the institution” (89) if we want to become better teachers, colleagues, and allies capable of creating more equitable relationships, classrooms, and institutions.
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Diversity and Whiteness in the
California Community Colleges:
Recommendations Toward Institutional Transformation
by Debbie Klein, FACCC President
During a recent meeting, Chancellor Oakley and I agreed to write a joint piece on faculty
diversity within the California Community College system as a way of engaging in pro-
ductive dialogue about areas of mutual concern. I welcomed the challenge and began
my research by delving into the system’s diversity data, which led me to some of the
latest studies on Whiteness and diversity within higher education in the United States.
Since our meeting a few months ago, there have been several
new incidents of gun violence motivated by white national-
ist ideology. One of these shootings occurred at the Gilroy
Garlic Festival, Gilroy’s treasured annual celebration with
deep roots in Gavilan College, my community. According
to Andrew Dyer’s article in the San Diego Union-Tribune,
“Leaks Reveal San Diego Operations of White Nationalists
Active at Area Colleges,” over the past few years, a white
supremacist organization, Identity Evropa, has targeted
college campuses in California with yers luring students to
meetings where they discuss the anti-immigrant, racist, and
Islamophobic ideas of the “great replacement,” the “Jewish
question,” and Islam as a “cancer”.
It is no accident that these groups are on the rise under a
U.S. administration that espouses white nationalist rhetoric
and pushes through racist policies and practices on a regular
basis. Aer several white identity recruitment yers were
posted on my campus last semester, my colleagues and I
organized an event in which students and faculty discussed
the history and current threat of white supremacy and ways
FACCCTS | FALL 2019 | WWW.FACCC.ORG 5
we could take action to ensure a safe, inclusive, and antirac-
ist campus. When we situate our systemwide conversations
about equity within this context, the urgency of our charge
becomes clear. How can we take action to transform our
institutions into multicultural, antiracist communities that
collectively engage in the struggle for a more just future?
One of the most illuminating recent texts for framing our
challenges around diversity and student success is Whiteness
in Higher Education: e Invisible Missing Link in Diversity
and Racial Analysis by Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson. e
authors apply ve frameworks to their analyses of Whiteness:
colorblindness, epistemology of ignorance, Whiteness as
property, ontological expansiveness, and assumed racial
comfort. e monograph concludes with suggestions for
future study alongside cautionary notes, including the
potential pitfall of recentering the dominant group’s experi-
ences while attempting to disrupt its dominance. Cabrera,
Franklin, and Watson make a compelling case for applying
the insights of Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) toward the
destabilization of the “normativity of Whiteness within insti-
tutions of higher education.
I have designed my anthropology curriculum around themes
of social justice for the past 20 years, featuring course content
from the broad elds of Critical Race Studies (CRS) and
CWS. While I am not an expert in these elds I take it as
my responsibility as FACCC’s new president to become
more familiar with these elds and reach out to colleagues
who have been doing the hard work of transforming our
colleges into more equitable communities. In this spirit, I
will briey dene and discuss Whiteness, oer my analysis of
our system’s diversity data, and conclude with some recom-
mendations for ways to move the needle toward institutional
transformation.
Whiteness is not White people. Within the eld of CWS,
Whiteness is dened as a discourse or social concept en-
compassing the following historically rooted policies and
practices: failure to recognize or analyze systemic racism;
failure to empathize with or seek understanding of margin-
alized groups or experiences in which race plays a part; and
minimization of the history of racism in the U.S.
e category “White People,” on the other hand, is a socially
constructed identity oen based on skin color. ough White
people are the beneciaries of Whiteness, any person or
group of people can participate in Whiteness, an invisible
and normative discourse that oen remains unnamed and
undened in our institutions. Given that our colleges are
microcosms of our larger society, the discourse of Whiteness
permeates the culture of our colleges. For example, as we
implement equitable hiring practices, an understanding of
the hidden assumptions of Whiteness would help in the de-
velopment of more racially conscious approaches to hiring.
Empirical studies have concluded that campus cultures
become more racially conscious with the institutionalization of
the following practices: 1) development of racial justice allies;
2) White privilege pedagogy; and 3) diversication of the
curriculum. Each of these practices consists of a wide range of
strategies and models, including pitfalls and reasons why these
practices alone are not panaceas. While I do not have the space
to discuss these practices in detail, I will oer a brief discussion
of what it means to become a racial justice ally.
Ally” is a general term describing individuals from a
majority group trying to work to support a marginalized
group by stepping out of the connes of the majority context.
Allies work to interrogate the majority system of oppression
while making sure they do not recenter the conversation on
the majority experience. Social justice ally literature denes
the process of becoming a racial justice ally as developing an
understanding of racism, power, and privilege and one’s role
in perpetuating these systems. For White people, this process
includes developing an understanding of these systems
intellectually and eectively; developing consciousness
around Whiteness; and participating in racial justice action.
Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson recommend that colleges
“hire, develop, and support instructors and professors who
are racial justice allies,” colleagues who become integral to
the goal of altering campus cultures.
As a White, middle-aged, educated, U.S. American woman,
I benet from the privileges of Whiteness. rough listening,
reading, teaching, researching, organizing, and collaborating
with people from diverse race and ethnic backgrounds, I
am committed to becoming more conscious of my own
privilege and more aware of what its like to walk in someone
else’s shoes.
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few generations ago, most of my Jewish family
were persecuted during the pogroms in Europe
and I have been personally targeted over the
course of my life because of my cultural back-
ground. My life’s work as an anthropologist,
teacher, and activist and my experiences and
empathy with people and groups who are margin-
alized fuel my passion and desire to ght for an
antiracist and just world. Once willing to ac-
knowledge and analyze the privilege of Whiteness,
each of us can choose to disrupt Whiteness and
participate in collective, antiracist action that can
lead toward the transformation of our colleges
into more equitable communities (13).
Since 2000, the percentage of Students of
Color, the majority of our students, has steadily
increased. Over the past decade, the percentage
of Students of Color increased by 16 percent,
representing 70 percent of all students in 2018.
However, the ratio of Students of Color to Faculty
of Color has remained relatively constant (gure
1). Over the past decade, Latinx students have
become the largest ethnic group of students in our
system, representing 46 percent of all students in
2018 (gure 3). While the ratio of Latinx faculty
to Latinx students has improved slightly (by 3.7
percent), this ratio was 1 to 77 in 2018, the largest
gap between faculty and students in any group.
Snapshot Comparison and Analysis of Student and Faculty Diversity
Figure 1
Figure 3
Figure 2
Figure 4
Diversity and Whiteness in the California Community Colleges: | Continued from page 5
FACCCTS | FALL 2019 | WWW.FACCC.ORG 19
e percentages of API and African-American
students decreased slightly in the past decade
(by three and one percent respectively), while
the percentages of API and African-American
faculty have slightly increased (by two and one
percent respectively). e ratio of API faculty
to API students was 1 to 27 in 2018. e ratio
of African-American faculty to African-Amer-
ican students was 1 to 26 in 2018. e category,
“Multi-ethnicity,” was not yet recorded in 2000
and 2008, though the ratio of Multi-ethnic faculty
to Multi-ethnic students was 1 to 75 in 2018.
ough the ratio of Native American faculty to
Native American students was 1 to 19 in 2018,
the percentages of Native American students and
faculty were a mere one percent in 2000 and have
declined to around half a percent in 2018. While
the percentage of White students decreased to 25
percent of all students in 2018, the ratio of White
faculty to White students was 1 to 11, the smallest
gap between faculty and students in any group
(gures 3 and 4).
e ratio of Faculty of Color to Students of Color
was 1 to 54 in 2018 (gure 1). e percentage
of Faculty of Color has increased since 2000;
however, the gap between Faculty of Color and
White faculty in 2018 was still 25 percent. And
nally, in comparison with students, sta, and
administrators, Faculty of Color are the least rep-
resented within their category. In 2018, Students
of Color were 70 percent of all students. Sta of
Color were 54 percent of all sta. Administrators
of Color were 42 percent of all administrators.
And Faculty of Color were 34 percent of all faculty
(gure 2).
Research shows that all students benet from
working with Faculty of Color in the classroom
and on campus. Professor of Education at San
Diego State University, Luke Wood summarizes
recent data from US colleges and universities:
"…[T]he representation of diversity within the
professoriate is disproportionately White. Roughly
speaking, for every one White faculty member
there are 16 White students. In contrast, for every
one Black and Latinx faculty member there are 49
Black students and 84 Latinx students respectively.
ese data have direct implications for student
advising, same-race role models, mentorship,
cultural relevance and, ultimately student success."
According to Sebastian Hua-Yu Cherng and Laura
Davis’ research, “e Importance of Minority
Teachers: Student Perception of Minority Versus
White Teachers,” all student groups, including
White students, evaluate Faculty of Color more
positively, suggesting that Faculty of Color are able
to communicate and work eectively with students
who do not share their race or ethnicity. Black,
Asian, and Latinx students have more favorable
perceptions of Faculty of Color than White faculty,
even aer considering factors such as faculty
working conditions and student performance.
Eugene Whitlock points out in his research,
“Diversity, Equity and Unconscious Bias: How
We Can Create an Inclusive Environment to Best
Serve our Students” that Faculty of Color are
more engaged with students due to their consis-
tent use of the following practices: decolonizing
the curriculum; relationship building; culturally
relevant teaching; collaborative learning; validating
messages; welcoming engagement; appropriate dis-
closing; facilitating connection to support services
and resources; empowerment techniques; and
institutional responsibility. When White faculty
learn and implement these exemplary and eective
practices, they also do a better job serving students.
Not only do we need to hire more Faculty of Color,
we need to institutionalize equity-minded profes-
sional development for all faculty.
In the past decade, FACCC, ASCCC, and the
faculty unions have tirelessly advocated for
dedicated and ongoing funding for full-time
faculty positions with an emphasis on diversifying
the faculty. Given our system’s diversity data and
the current research on Whiteness and diversity
in higher education, there is indisputable evidence
that more resources should be dedicated to hiring
and diversifying the faculty if we are serious about
making any progress toward our equity and com-
pletion goals.
>> continued on page 20
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Recommendations
Institutionalize ongoing funding for full-time faculty
positions with an emphasis on diversity.
Institutionalize ongoing funding for part-time faculty
equity.
Institutionalize ongoing funding for professional develop-
ment for faculty, sta, and administrators with an emphasis
on equity-mindedness. While some faculty organizations
(e.g. 3CSN, FACCC, ASCCC), colleges, and colleagues
have been leading and participating in equity-minded
programs and perhaps experiencing cultural shis on their
campuses, equity-minded professional development has
yet to be institutionalized across the system.
Institutionalize equitable hiring practices, such as the
following recommended by Wood:
Implicit bias training;
Certication that applicant pools reect the diversity of
relevant degree holders within the eld;
Diversity advocates on every committee;
Inclusive job search criteria such as the prioritization
of candidates who have “demonstrated experience in
research, teaching, and/or service to historically underrep-
resented and underserved communities” (2-3);
Require candidates to address issues related to diversity
and equity in their applications and interviews. (Whitlock)
Incentivize institutions to make progress on the four areas
listed above.
e California Community College system is one of the most
signicant and vital engines for educational, economic, and
personal growth opportunities in California, and particu-
larly for Residents of Color and low income. While many
faculty are actively working to create more equitable college
cultures and classrooms, transformation will only happen
with “the commitment of [our] institutions and the un-
wavering support of [our] administrations. It is extremely
dicult and constant work, but that is what makes it so
necessary” (Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson 94). Our colleges
must “confront racism, power, and privilege at all levels of
the institution” (89) if we want to become better teachers,
colleagues, and allies capable of creating more equitable rela-
tionships, classrooms, and institutions.
Works Cited
Cabrera, Nolan, Jeremy Franklin, and Jesse Watson.
Whiteness in Higher Education: e Invisible Missing Link
in Diversity and Racial Analyses. Jossey-Bass, 2017.
Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian and Laura Davis. “Multicultural
Matters: An Investigation of Key Assumptions of
Multicultural Education Reform in Teacher Education.
Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 70, no. 3, 2017, doi:
10.1177/0022487117742884.
Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian and Peter Halpin. “e
Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of
Minority Verses White Teachers.” Educational Researcher,
vol. 45, no. 7, 2016, pp. 407-420.
Dyer, Andrew. “Leaks Reveal San Diego Operations of White
Nationalists Active at Area Colleges.e San Diego Union-
Tribune, 24 March 2019, www.sandiegouniontribune.com/
military/sd-me-white-nationalists-campuses-20190324-story.
html. Accessed 4 August 2019.
Whitlock, Eugene. “Diversity, Equity and Unconscious Bias:
How We Can Create an Inclusive Environment to Best Serve
Our Students.” Gavilan College Professional Development
Day, 24 August 2018, Gavilan College, Gilroy, CA. Keynote
Address.
Wood, Luke. “Four Hiring Strategies for Increasing Faculty
Diversity.” Diverseeducation.com, 17 July 2019,
www.diverseeducation.com/article/149878/. Accessed 28 July
2019.
Diversity and Whiteness in the California Community Colleges | Continued from page 19
The California Community College
system is one of the most significant and
vital engines for educational, economic,
and personal growth opportunities in
California, and particularly for Residents
of Color and low income.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Five decades of rhetoric and reform in teacher education underscore the importance of multicultural education in preparing teachers to meet the needs of all students. State and national policy initiatives targeting multicultural education build on two assumptions: first, that preservice teachers lack the multicultural awareness to function as culturally responsive educators, and second, that higher levels of multicultural awareness correspond with increased pedagogical proficiency. Few studies have examined variation in multicultural awareness across preservice candidates, or the link between multicultural awareness and prospective teachers’ measured competencies. Using a novel dataset of 2,500 preservice teachers’ beliefs and student teacher performance assessments, we find that Black and Latino candidates report greater multicultural awareness, while Asian Americans report less, compared with their White counterparts. Prior experience working with nondominant populations is linked with higher levels of awareness, particularly for minority respondents. Propensity score matching analyses reveal that multicultural awareness is tied to candidates’ competence in creating nurturing classroom environments.
Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Verses White Teachers
  • Hua-Yu Cherng
  • Peter Sebastian
  • Halpin
Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian and Peter Halpin. " e Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Verses White Teachers. " Educational Researcher, vol. 45, no. 7, 2016, pp. 407-420.
Leaks Reveal San Diego Operations of White Nationalists Active at Area Colleges
  • Andrew Dyer
Dyer, Andrew. "Leaks Reveal San Diego Operations of White Nationalists Active at Area Colleges. " e San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 March 2019, www.sandiegouniontribune.com/ military/sd-me-white-nationalists-campuses-20190324-story. html. Accessed 4 August 2019.
Diversity, Equity and Unconscious Bias: How We Can Create an Inclusive Environment to Best Serve Our Students
  • Eugene Whitlock
Whitlock, Eugene. "Diversity, Equity and Unconscious Bias: How We Can Create an Inclusive Environment to Best Serve Our Students. " Gavilan College Professional Development Day, 24 August 2018, Gavilan College, Gilroy, CA. Keynote Address.
Four Hiring Strategies for Increasing Faculty Diversity
  • Luke Wood
Wood, Luke. "Four Hiring Strategies for Increasing Faculty Diversity. " Diverseeducation.com, 17 July 2019, www.diverseeducation.com/article/149878/. Accessed 28 July 2019.