ArticlePDF Available

Collectors, Nightlights, and Allies, Oh My! White Mentors in the Academy

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

As more students of Color enter into Historically White Institutions (HWIs), the dearth of mentors of Color continues to be an issue leaving students to rely on White mentors within academia. Much of the literature regarding mentoring discusses its definitions and best practices. It does not, however, capture the experiences of students of Color and their perceptions of their White mentors. It also fails to challenge White mentors who other, tokenize, or fail to understand their mentees. Through autoethnography rooted in Critical Race Theory counternarratives, I identify, define, and discuss three roles White mentors play for students of Color.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Collectors, Nightlights, and Allies, Oh My! White Mentors
in the Academy
Marisela Martinez-Cola
Utah State University
Abstract
As more students of Color enter into Historically White Institutions
(HWIs), the dearth of mentors of Color continues to be an issue leaving
students to rely on White mentors within academia. Much of the
literature regarding mentoring discusses its definitions and best
practices. It does not, however, capture the experiences of students of
Color and their perceptions of their White mentors. It also fails to
challenge White mentors who other, tokenize, or fail to understand their
mentees. Through autoethnography rooted in Critical Race Theory
counternarratives, I identify, define, and discuss three roles White
mentors play for students of Color.
Keywords: critical race theory, counternarrative, autoethnography,
cross-racial mentoring
Understanding & Dismantling Privilege
The Official Journal of The White Privilege Conference and The Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion.
Marisela Martinez-Cola joined the faculty at Utah State University in
the Fall of 2018 after receiving her PhD from Emory University in
Atlanta, Georgia. The first in her family to attend college, she is also an
alumnus of the University of Michigan, where she majored in African
American Studies. She then earned a law degree at Loyola University
Chicago School of Law. She credits her varied educational experiences
for contributing to her interdisciplinary approach to research and
teaching. Her research largely focuses on the critical comparative study
of race, class, and gender as it relates to culture, social movements, and
comparative/historical sociology. Her current book project is
entitled The Bricks Before Brown and is a comparative historical case
study of the construction of race, class, and gender in Mexican
American, Chinese American, and Native American school
desegregation cases that came before the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in
Brown v. Board of Education.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
26
During my graduate school career, I was
often asked to speak with or mentor young
undergraduates. As a first-generation
Chicana pursuing a PhD, I received these
requests often. In reality, I have always been
asked to participate in these kinds of events
ever since high school, into college,
throughout law school, graduate school, and
now as an assistant professor. These
requests are both an opportunity and a
challenge. I truly appreciate sharing my
experiences with students with whom I have
so much in common. It is a form of giving
back to the various scholars of Color who
were generous to me. It can be challenging,
however, when attempting to manufacture
more time to write, research, teach, and be a
mother.
On this particular occasion, I was asked
to network with a group of incredibly
talented Mellon Mays Undergraduate
Fellows (MMUF). The MMUF is a
fellowship named after noted scholar and
educator Benjamin Elijah Mays that is
designed to support and encourage
underrepresented minority groups to pursue
a PhD. The group was small enough to
provide an opportunity to have protected,
“real” conversations. One student asked,
“What should we look for in a mentor?”
Most of the time, I would give a fairly
general answer about how having a good
mentor requires that you are a good
menteeand so forth. However, on this
particular occasion, I was experiencing an
intense moment of clarity and candor. I
realized that I had spent most of my
academic career, K12, college, law school,
and graduate school (approximately 25 years
total) in predominantly White spaces. I
explained to them that, though there are few
in HWI, they will interact with and find
mentors of Color who may be able to share
their experiences. However, most of their
mentors will likely be White. I shared,
“White mentors are very interesting. You
have to get to know them and how to
interact with them. You will likely
encounter Collectors or Nightlights.” I had
never used these descriptors before in a
public setting, but in a room full of people of
Color, I felt comfortable enough to name my
experiences.
This article is a result of that very frank
and honest conversation. Ever since that
meeting, I have played those conversations
in my mind, shared these classifications with
colleagues, and added the third category of
Allies.
i
In sharing this conversation with
fellow people of Color, I have found that
naming these experiences with White
mentors provided much-needed validation in
an academic setting where my presence is
problematic. In sharing these ideas with
White faculty, I have encountered surprise,
reflection, and some push back. As some of
my colleagues have shared, generally
speaking, “White folks don’t like being told
about themselves.”
The under-representation of faculty of
Color in the academy ensures the chances
that students of Color will likely look to
White faculty as mentors. Research from the
National Center for Education Statistics
(NCES) shows that Black male, Black
female, and Latino professors account for
3% each, with Latinas accounting for 2%,
Native Americans less than 1%, and Asian
American male and female faculty
representing 6% and 4%, respectively (see
Figure 1). In the meantime, the NCES also
reports that in postsecondary institutions
students of Color comprise approximately
42% of college enrollment distributed in the
following manner: Black (14.1%), Latinx
students (17.3%), Asian American (6.8%),
Native American (0.8%), and Multiracial
(3.5%). With the ever-changing
diversification of higher education, the onus
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
27
for mentoring falls mostly on White faculty,
a role they may or may not be prepared to
undertake.
In the next section, I will review the
literature regarding cross-racial mentoring
and argue that, despite the mountain of
information available, the critical lens has
yet to be turned towards White mentors
from their student of Color mentees. Next, I
define and provide examples of Collectors,
Nightlights, and Allies whom I have
experienced during my academic journey. In
doing so, I describe the specific ways White
mentoring behavior presents itself in the
academy. Through autoethnography and
storytelling rooted in Critical Race Theory, I
ultimately hope to generate meaningful
dialogue and self-reflection between and
among White mentors as well as shared
stories or debates among scholars of Color.
Literature Review
Because mentoring is such a challenging
relationship to define, this article will not
focus on defining mentoring. Kerry Ann
Rockquemore (2016) correctly assesses that
[I]f you ask 10 different faculty
members what mentoring is, how
it works, what it looks like, and
how to tell if it’s effective, you
will get 10 different responses
ranging from a once-a-year
coffee date to a quasi-parental,
lifelong relationship. (p. 1).
Instead, this article focuses on the
participants and subjects of the literature on
mentoring. Much of the literature regarding
mentoring discusses its definitions and best
practices. However, it does not completely
capture how students of Color experience
Figure 1: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). The Condition of Education (NCES,
2018, p. 144).
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
28
their White mentors. The closest example of
ascertaining a protégé of Color’s experience
is Reddick and Ortego Pritchett’s (2015)
analysis of six interviews with White faculty
who were mentoring Black students.
However, the reporting was the White
faculty’s experience of mentoring rather
than the Black students experience of them.
This one-sided reporting is problematic,
considering that such mentoring programs
are often designed to remedy the inequality
in academia by addressing the needs of
underrepresented or marginalized
communities. One may consider the
numerous “how to be an ally” or “learning
antiracism” articles and publications that
advise White faculty (Bishop, 2015;
Derman-Sparks, Brunson Phillips, &
Hilliard III, 1997). However, those articles
fail to challenge White mentors who, despite
their best intentions, continue to other,
tokenize, and fail to understand their
mentees and the challenges they confront in
White spaces.
Much of the literature discusses what it
means to be a good mentor or mentee
generally (Allen, 2007; Fletcher & Mullen,
2012). While some of the literature is
helpful, much of it is very much rooted in a
deficit model. Similar to the “fix the
woman” perspective studied within gender
studies, such literature often describes these
students as lacking some kinds of skills or
knowledge, rather than emphasizing their
strengths or focusing on structural
inequalities (Hewlett, 2013; Hewlett,
Peraino, Sherbin, & Sumberg, 2010; Ibarra,
Carter, & Silva, 2010). For example, in his
research of how students of Color interact
with professors, Jack (2016) labels students
at elite universities who are low-income and
attended boarding, day, or prep school
versus those who are poor and remaining in
their communities as the “Privileged Poor”
and “Doubly Disadvantaged,” respectively.
Mentoring studies also imply that
mentoring students of Color requires a great
deal of investment in time, emotion, and
resources. In a recent article in The
Chronicle of Higher Education, Brad
Johnson (2017), a professor of psychology
at the U.S. Naval Academy, shares that
mentoring “minority students and/or
faculty” requires practicing cultural
humility; being willing to take action to
tackle racism, discrimination, and other
inequities; publicly advocating or singing
the praises of their scholarly work; and
being familiar with the resources available
on campus. By this description, mentoring
students of Color sounds like a mammoth
undertaking. However, such an undertaking
pales in comparison to the emotional labor
experienced by faculty of Color who mentor
students of Color while needing mentoring
themselves (Calafell, 2007; Hochschild,
1983; Katzew, 2009; Padilla, 1994).
Much of the literature on mentoring can
be grouped into the following themes or
purposes:
Addresses the needs of graduate
students of color generally, Black
graduate students specifically
(Barker, 2011, 2016; DeWalt, 2004;
Patton, 2009; Smith & Davidson,
1992; Twale, Weidman, & Bethea,
2016)
The dearth of faculty of Color
contributing to lack of mentors for
students of Color (DeFour & Hirsch,
1990; Ellis 2001; Felder, Stevenson,
& Gasman, 2014; Johnson-Bailey,
Valentine, Cervero, & Bowles, 2009;
Margolis & Romero, 1998; Patton,
2009; Patton & Harper, 2003)
White peers/colleagues having
greater access to departmental
resources (Acker & Hague, 2015;
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
29
Cohen & Steele, 2002; García, 2005;
McGuire & Reger, 2003)
Students of Color lacking trust or
experiencing isolation,
microaggressions, tokenism, and/or
stereotyping (Daniel, 2007; Johnson-
Bailey, Valentine, Cervero, &
Bowles, 2009; Monforti &
Michelson, 2008; Ramirez, 2014;
Schlemper & Monk, 2011;
Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000)
Understanding, describing, or
explaining how to mentor students of
Color (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Griffin,
Muñiz, & Smith, 2016; Johnson-
Baily & Cervero, 2004)
What is demonstratively missing is the
point of view of the students themselves and
their experiences (good, bad, or indifferent)
of White faculty mentors outside of the
classroom. The closest examination of a
mentoring program that reports a mentee’s
experience is Phelps-Ward and DeAngelo’s
(2016) research on a doctoral education
pipeline created for Black students. They
found, “When aspects of frequent contact,
closeness, reciprocity, friendship, and trust
are present in a relationship between a
student and faculty member, the student is
more likely to benefit from the psychosocial
and instrumental functions of mentoring” (p.
120). While their findings are in line with
the needs of students of Color, it is based on
interviews of four Black mentees and their
White mentors who are reporting on the
reciprocal nature of the mentor/mentee
relationship.
This article is intended to fill the gap that
much of the mentoring scholarship is
missing. How do students of Color perceive
their White faculty mentors? This article
centers the point of analysis from those in
power to the individual most impacted by
unequal power dynamics. If the goal is to
recruit, retain, and advance students of
Color, then it is critical to learn how they
navigate White mentoring relationships
within historically White spaces. This article
is intended to begin a conversation that
begins with the student of Color.
Methodology and Theory
To begin this conversation, I utilize an
autoethnographic approach rooted in the
counternarrative tradition of Critical Race
Theory. Autoethnographies are “highly
personalized accounts that draw upon the
experience of the author for the purposes of
extending sociological understanding”
(Sparks, 2000, p. 21). This is an approach
used to describe the experiences of gender
or racial bias in the tenure process (Bailey &
Helvie-Mason, 2011; Edwards, 2017;
Hellsten, Martin, McIntyre, & Kinzel, 2011)
and the experiences of faculty of Color at
HWIs (Griffin, 2012; Miller, 2008). This
methodology is based on the claim that
“narratives form a structure within which to
think about our daily lives and about the
magic and mess of human possibilities”
(Dillow, 2009, p. 1344).
Counternarratives add a dimension to
autoethnography that invites the experiences
of the marginalized other to speak their truth
to power. Raúl Alberto Mora (2014) writes
that “A counternarrative goes beyond the
notion that those in relative positions of
power can just tell the stories of those in the
margins. Instead, these must come from the
margins, from the perspectives and voices of
those individuals” (p. 1). As demonstrated,
the experience of students of Color of the
different types of mentors in their lives has
not really been captured in the literature.
This is largely because the literature is
written by those in relative positions of
power who may not have considered asking
their mentees to contribute to an article. As a
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
30
result, many people of Color have to rely on
others to “tell their story.” Counternarratives
offer a solution for that oversight, in this
case, by inviting the mentees of Color to
reveal their experiences of White mentors.
Ultimately, the goal of an
autoethnographic approach is to make sense
of everyday experiences by connecting it to
sociological principlesconnecting the
micro to the macro, the personal to the
structural. This is what separates it from
everyday storytelling or personal accounts.
For the purposes of this article, my narrative
inquiry is, generally, limited to my pre-
graduate school experience as well as my
time in Multicultural Affairs. I use this
approach to minimize the risk of easily
identifying my mentors and colleagues at a
certain university. In the next section, I pick
up on my conversation with the MMUF to
define Collectors, Nightlights, and Allies
and provide examples from my own
experiences with various mentors in
education.
Collectors
Back with the MMUF students, I
began to describe/define the role of
White mentors whom I called
Collectors:
There are White mentors who
will “collect you.” They are
mentors who will want to add
you to the cadre of students of
Color that they have decided to
help. These are the ones that will
“trot” you out to events, ask you
to represent the University at
some panel during the
admissions process, or ask you to
serve on some type of diversity
committee to help them figure
out a solution to a problem they
created for themselves.
Around the room, I saw heads beginning
to nod in understanding. I continued,
“Collectors are the ones that will ask you to
be in photographs or public relations
materials on behalf of the university. They
also often limit their interactions with
students of Color to 'diversity' events.”
Again, a room full of heads nodded in
acquiescence. The other graduate students
and faculty of Color added their experiences
with Collectors as well. One undergraduate
lamented in frustration, “Ugh! I hate it when
people are like that.” I urged them not to
dismiss or overlook Collectors because they,
I believe, are often unintentional in their
condescension. Their value often lies in
knowing the resources available within and
outside of the institution. Collectors are not
bad people. I shared that they are genuine in
their desire to help. This desire, however,
may be misguided and motivated by what
has been identified as a “White savior
complex” to “rescue” those who need their
help (Hughey, 2014). I have also heard these
progressive Whites referred to colloquially
as “well-meaning White folk.” It just feels
like your purpose, as a student of Color, is
either to assuage their White liberal guilt or
publicly demonstrate their commitment to
diversity, or both.
The most frequent kind of mentor I have
had is Collectors. From kindergarten to law
school, it was usually the teacher or
administrator who thought of me for every
opportunity designed to benefit a student of
Color. If an organization was looking for a
Latinx student, my name was usually the
first, maybe only, to be put forth. Perhaps
one of the strongest examples of a Collector
I encountered was Karen, a White woman
who administered a program that benefited
Latinx students.
ii
Because of her genuine
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
31
enthusiasm and ability to speak Spanish, she
was beloved by the students. Her sincerity
was never in question. However, she was
also the person who, in an effort to connect
with students of Color, wore outfits or
carried purses from the Latin American
country where she had some kind of
transformative experience. This particular
Collector spoke of one country so frequently
that the students could predict when she
would say, “During my time in….”. It
became a running joke among the students
to count how many times she uttered the
phrase.
This particular Collector was notorious
for inviting students to events under the
guise of networking but then did not
introduce them to anyone who could help
them advance or establish professional
relationships. What made things worse was
that when she spoke about the students in
the program during administrative meetings,
she would refer to them as “my little Latino
students,” or "my name of the Latino
organization” students. It was never simply
“my students” or a recognition of their value
by saying, “What I have learned from my
students is….” While faculty often use the
phrase “my students,” her particular use of it
seemed like a claim of ownership instead of
a connection.
Collector behavior also reveals itself in
the types of invitations one receives. For
example, Madeline, a Collector from my
time in Multicultural Affairs, would
frequently invite me to cultural or diversity
events but offer my White colleagues tickets
to football games or even invite them over to
her home for a meal and drinks. My White
colleagues would unintentionally share
stories of being at Madeline’s house or
having drinks with her at particular
restaurants. Me? I got to meet whatever
performer or speaker of Color happened to
be invited to the campus. I became what Pat
Mora (1985) calls “a handy token sliding
back and forth.” I was respected as a
colleague, but our interactions were
confined to the walls of the university.
While these examples may put
Collectors in a bad light, they were usually
always the ones who maintained access to
valuable resources in the form of economic
and social capital. In gender studies in
corporations, they are called “sponsors.”
“Sponsors,” according to Ibarra, Carter, and
Silva (2010), “go beyond giving feedback
and advice and use his or her influence with
senior executives to advocate for their
mentee” (p. 82). Similarly, Collectors were
usually the ones who, when a student or I
needed financial assistance or an
introduction to a person of influence, would
almost always come through. I have had
Collectors find students internships, provide
scholarships for summer study abroad, and
even replace lost or stolen technology. I
never knew how they accomplished these
tasks, just that they did. For me, if this
Collector would help me achieve an
important goal, I had no problem having
dinner with a Latinx candidate for this or
that job on campus or a donor who was
considering giving money to funds that
would benefit students of Color.
The biggest challenge is when I
encounter a Collector who believes, in all
sincerity, that they are an Ally. It is not
difficult to identify the difference between
the two, but it is challenging to explain the
difference without frustrating a Collector.
The best way I have ever heard this type of
misguided, but well-intentioned, belief
described is as “benevolent racism”
(Esposito & Romano, 2014; Miller, 2008).
While Miller’s use of this phrase was
describing a genuinely racist interaction, he
describes it as part of the “numerous
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
32
experiences of patronizing kindness” he has
experienced as a Black man in the academy
(Miller, 2008, p. 353). What makes this type
of racism so insidious is the fact that it is
couched in kindness or “acknowledges and
often directly condemns a system of White
privilege. However, it does so in a way that
further legitimizes and reinforces racist
attitudes, policies, and practices in the name
of benevolent aims” (Esposito & Romano,
2014, p. 70).
I had a Collector who, after learning that
I attended the University of Michigan,
wanted to engage me in a conversation
about what it was like to be the product of
Affirmative Action. I had to decide at that
moment whether or not to explain why her
question was problematic. Could I explain
that her question implied I was accepted
based solely on my race and not my skills
and intelligence? Did I feel safe enough to
explain to her that those kinds of questions
trigger the imposter syndrome in me that I
have struggled with my entire academic
career? Could I be that vulnerable, knowing
I could become a story she would share with
her colleagues whenever the issue of
Affirmative Action was discussed? Could I
engage in a scholarly critique/discussion
about Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority
opinion versus Antonin Scalia’s dissent in
Grutter v. Bollinger? Was it worth offending
her and losing the relationship to ask her, “I
don’t know. You tell me. Research shows
that Affirmative Action programs benefitted
White women more often than people of
Color(Crenshaw 2007; Wise, 1998). How
do you feel as a product of Affirmative
Action?” Instead, I answered, “It can be a
challenge sometimes, but I remind myself
that I am just as, if not more, qualified than
White candidates.” She responded exactly as
I expected her to with a vigorous, “Of
course you are!” She may have thought she
was encouraging, but, to me, it felt like a
patronizing pat on the head.
Nightlights
The term, Nightlight, came from a very
clever student I worked with at a small,
private women’s college in Georgia. I
shared that my father was interested in
buying a car, and we were going to a
dealership to browse. The student said,
“Don’t forget your Nightlight!” The room
immediately erupted in laughter. I was not in
on the joke and stood there confused. My
Nightlight? The student was referring to my
partner, Greg, who is a 6’1” White man.
This led to a discussion that Greg, as a
White man, would likely receive better
treatment than my short, heavily accented
Mexican American fatherwhich,
unfortunately, turned out to be true. At that
moment, I thought about all of the times I
asked Greg to make particular phone calls
when I was either (a) concerned the
recipient of the call would not respond to
someone with a complicated, obviously
ethnic name, or (b) I didn’t feel like using
my “White voice” and use the name, Marcy
or Marcella. I have had colleagues scold me
and tell me to make people say my name.
Most of the time, however, I just want a
refund, or a service ordered with little to no
complications because, on those particular
occasions, I just do not have a fight left in
me. If I am never going to interact with
those individuals again, why exert my
energy?
Nightlights, then, are White mentors
who understand the challenges inherent at
HWIs and can help students of Color
navigate the unknown and unforeseeable
curves and twists of the academy. They,
figuratively, provide light in the dark,
unfamiliar places within academia.
Nightlights may not relate to or understand
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
33
the experiences of students of Color, but
they do recognize and acknowledge the
existence of systemic racism within the
academy. Nightlights help you to see around
corners and briefly step in when you need
assistance navigating a complicated
academic journey. They use their privilege,
social capital, and cultural capital to reveal
the often unspoken rules that you will likely
encounter during your academic life or
translate the statements or situations that are
laden with double meaning. They make the
invisible visible and explain the unspoken.
In essence, they reveal the hidden
curriculum that so often eludes students of
Color. One would not necessarily maintain a
deep relationship with a Nightlight. Instead,
their purpose is almost situational,
practicalsimilar to an actual nightlight that
illuminates dark spaces.
I can go as far back as elementary school
to identify one of the first Nightlights in my
life. I was one of two Latinx kids in my
elementary school. My mother would make
tacos wrapped in aluminum foil for my
father to take to work. One day I opened my
Muppets lunchbox, and, to my delight, there
sat my very own aluminum-foil-wrapped
deliciousness. As I peeled back the foil, my
classmates began asking, “What’s that
smell?” “What are you eating?” These were
the days before the rise in popularity of Taco
Bell and the little “Yo Quiero Taco Bell”
Chihuahua. To this day, I can remember
feeling embarrassed, alone, and, most of all,
weird. From behind I hear this delighted
gasp. I turn around and it is Mr. Walsh, one
of the most popular teachers in the school.
He asked, “Are those tacos?” I sheepishly
answered, yes. He asked, “Can I have
some?” I happily answered, yes. He reached
down and tore one in half, took a bite, and
loudly proclaimed, “Mmmm, mmmm! I love
tacos! These are sooo good!” He thanked me
for sharing, winked, and walked away.
Almost immediately, my classmates began
asking, “Can I have some? I want some.”
Looking back, I truly admire his low-key
approach. He could have intervened on my
behalf and tried to rescue me. He could have
excoriated my classmates or turned it into a
“teachable moment” about valuing
difference and whatnot. He could have
talked to me afterward to make sure I was
okay, making me feel even more different
from my classmates. Instead, he quietly
approached the situation, made a connection
with me, and, most importantly, used his
popularity to transform my weird to cool.
Maybe Mr. Walsh genuinely did like tacos
and used this opportunity to steal lunch from
a child. But, looking back, he carried on in
such an animated fashion that I have to
believe it was deliberate.
The key to this interaction was how he
used his social capital as a favored teacher to
help me out of an awkward situation and
give me more status in my classmate’s eyes.
In an academic setting, this may come in
many forms. I will offer four scenarios:
1. Intervening during a meeting when
a person of Color becomes “the
representative” for all people of Color
There have been times when I have sat
in a meeting, and all eyes are on me for the
“diversity” perspective, such as how to
recruit more students of Color into a school
or program; how to identify the needs of
people of Color in the department; or to
suggest what ways a department can
improve the processes related to hiring,
mentoring, or retention. A Nightlight could
intervene and say, “We are all intelligent
people here. I recommend we all conduct
research on this topic and then come back
and revisit the discussion. We can all stand
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
34
to learn more and not just rely on a
colleague or student to do the work for us.”
Sadly, I have never had anyone
intervene in this way on my behalf. Could I
speak up for myself? Yes, there is nothing
technically stopping me. But when you
consider the power dynamics of being a
student, you have to weigh and balance
which “hill you’re willing to die on.” This
particular scenario happens so often you
almost become immune. Once people have
demonstrated to me that they are not willing
to put in the work to understand the issues
relevant to people of Color and leave that to
those who do “race work,” the effort to
teach is too overwhelming. The risk is not
worth the reward. There are some cups you
can never fill.
2. Nominating a person of Color for a
committee or task that is not related to
race/difference
Over my educational journey, I have
been asked to sit on numerous advisory
boards, serve on various committees, and
review books/articles where my Latinidad
offers a “unique and valuable perspective.”
That is usually how it is framed for me,
particularly when the group is dominated by
White people. I never doubt the sincerity of
the request, but I do often question the
effort. This is not to say that I do not want to
do this work. Most times, I find myself
saying yes. Perhaps this is something that
will change over time as I cultivate the
ability to say no. I am not suggesting to
never ask, I would just like to be considered
for other things as well.
Once again, I cannot think of a time
when I was asked by a White mentor to
serve on a committee or advisory board that
did not have to do with diversity work.
However, I can think of many instances
when women of Color have asked me to
serve in ways that did not involve diversity
work. I was asked to serve on a local
arrangements committee for a conference in
Atlanta. I relished the experience and got to
meet a new colleague whose path I may
have never crossed otherwise. I was also
asked to serve on another committee where
my legal experience/knowledge was helpful
to the process. In this particular case, I was
not asked because I was Latina. I do not
even know if I was asked because of my
legal education. In all honesty, I do not
know why I was asked. It is not to say my
race, gender, or class does not shape and
inform my thoughts, ideas, and
recommendations. However, simply being
asked to do something so important outside
of “diversity work” was refreshing.
3. Take a moment to read a
colleague’s or student’s work and talk
about it with them, drop a note of
appreciation, or mention it in a
professional setting
This is probably an area where
Nightlights can really shine. As a woman of
Color, I have read Weber, Marx, Goffman
(not Alice), Butler, McKinnon, Bourdieu,
Hochschild, and the like. I am almost certain
many of my White colleagues have not read
Aldon, DuBois, Cooper, Anzaldua, Collins,
Crenshaw, Takaki, or Lopez. Many of my
colleagues involved in race become experts
twice over. For example, in social
movement literature, I not only have to
know McAdam, Tilly, Tarrow, Bedford, and
Snow, I am also reading Aldon, Bell, Craig,
Torres, and Omatsu in order to carve out a
place for my research. I truly believe this is
why so many sections in the American
Sociological Association struggle with
recruiting people of Color. You may not
know our work, but we know yours. An
environmental sociologist, for example, can
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
35
spend an entire career never engaging
questions of race. An environmental
sociologist who uses a raced lens, on the
other hand, has learned both kinds of
literature.
I have had moments when I am simply
talking about my research, and someone will
take a genuine interest and pepper me with
questions, recommend articles, etc. I have
also had people tell me that they were at a
conference and mentioned my research. One
individual told me, “You made me look
really smart the other day! We were
discussing school desegregation, and I got to
give them new information about cases in
your research. Here was a room full of
experts, and they learned something new.”
He was essentially bragging about me. He
shared it with me, not because he was trying
to show his support. He was sharing it
because he enjoyed introducing something
new. The best is when a colleague emails
me or comes and talks to me about an article
I authored. Felder, Stevenson, and Gasman
(2014) who studied doctoral graduates found
that “most students found support from
faculty members of all racial and ethnic
backgrounds helpful when they were
supportive of their racial identity, research
interests, and progress towards degree
completion” (p. 38, emphasis mine).
The imposter syndrome is so terribly
strong, particularly for a first-generation
individual where every interaction feels like
a new one. These brief moments of
affirmation are helpful, particularly when
they come from seasoned scholars or people
within your own department. This is not
about being affirmed by someone who is
White. It is about being recognized as an
equal, valuable member of the organization,
group, or department. This is why I call
these Nightlight moments. It’s a temporary,
helpful illumination in an otherwise obscure
place.
4. Take a moment to learn about a
situation before making conclusions
To provide an example for this
recommendation, I share another
“Nightlight” moment in elementary school
when I was recommended for speech
therapy. Apparently, my “Y’s” were
sounding more like “J’s” and my “Ch”
sounded like “Sh.” So Instead of yellow, I
would say, “Jellow.” Instead of cheese, I
would say, “Sheese.” During my first
session, the speech therapist asked me to say
“yellow,” emphasizing the Y. “Yellow. Y—
Y Y—Yellow.” I replied, “Yellow.” She
took me through a few other Y-words, and,
sure enough, I could easily pronounce them.
She did the same with the Ch and Sh
sound. Once again, I could say ships and
chips clearly and knew one was a boat and
the other a snack. In an amazing act of
simplicity, she asked what no other teacher
or administrator thought to ask me, “Why do
you say sheese and jellow’?” I said,
“That’s how my mom pronounces it.” I was
simply imitating the sounds I heard at home
living with parents who possessed heavy
accents. We did meet a few more times as
she taught me the difference between school
and home language without saying one was
right and the other wrong. She would simply
say, “Your teachers don’t know your
family.” I remember going home and trying
to teach my mother the same thing. To this
day, she still says, jellow.
That particular interaction demonstrates
how Nightlights do not take things as they
seem. They “shed light” by simply asking
questions, gathering more information, and
recognizing that perhaps I am not the
problem. In this particular case, I was not
the “problematic” student with a speech
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
36
impediment. I was a very bright student with
a Spanish-speaking mother who was trying
to learn English. In the academy, it
translates to learning more about a student’s
circumstances, training, background,
responsibilities, etc. As sociologists, we
should know that there have to be other
explanations besides individual ones.
I struggled with passive voice for years
and felt foolish for not being able to identify
it in my writing. A Nightlight who
recognized my insecurity assured me that
many people struggle with passive voice.
She observed that I write as though I am
speaking or giving a speech and asked me
why. At that moment, I realized that it was
because my parents could not read and
revise my papers in school. Their primary
language was Spanish, and they possessed a
second- and eighth-grade education,
respectively. I had no clue they could not
read my papers. Instead, they would ask me
to read it to them. These opportunities gave
me tremendous confidence because they
would applaud at the end of my
“presentation.” Each writing became rooted
in drama and colorful language to get a
visible reaction from my parents. I have no
doubt that that experience is why I am a
confident public speaker. I was not a bad
writer. I just needed to learn a few simple
rules about writing that I was never taught.
Ever since then, I share the same lesson on
passive voice with my undergraduates just in
case they were not taught as well.
Allies
There is, of course, the third category,
and those are Allies. Allies are by far the
most aware of the experiences of students of
Color, usually, because they can make
meaningful connections to their own
experiences without asserting equality (e.g.,
first-generation status, working or blue-
collar class background, childhood in
communities where they were the minority,
or having other marginalized identities such
as gender, LGBTQI+, or living with a
disability). Allies are most likely to, for
example, invite their mentees to conferences
and take the time to introduce them to
important individuals in the field beyond
simple introductions. They are also most
likely to co-author with their graduate
students to help them gain greater standing
in the already competitive world of
academia. When you examine the syllabus
of an ally, it is filled with scholars that
affirm the varied experiences of students of
Color and demonstrates an effort to
“decolonize” their syllabus (DeChavez,
2018) or engage in the recent movement of
#CiteBlackWomen started by Dr. Christen
Smith, an anthropologist at University of
Texas at Austin. In a phrase, Allies have
“done the work” it takes to develop an
appreciation and admiration for the
experiences of students of Color, and this
work informs their mentoring relationships.
Allies, for me, were the easiest to
identify during my academic career. I culled
three examples from my life, each different
in their approach but similar in their impact.
The first was Penelope Sanchez. Penelope
was a White woman who worked in a
bilingual education program in my high
school and was actively involved in the
Latinx community of Battle Creek. I would
regularly see her at baptisms, Quinciñeras,
weddings, and funerals. Like Karen, the
Collector, she spoke Spanish, but her use of
it was so different. Karen seems to show off
her bilingual skills and would sometimes
even correct Latino students, whereas
Penelope used it because sometimes English
just cannot capture the sentiment. It was
more than a language she acquired; it
became the language of her soul. Members
of the Latinx community would often
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
37
describe her as “not Mexicana in blood but
Mexicana by heart.”
I would go to Penelope’s office when I
was struggling with microaggressions, and
she would just sit and listen and understand.
She did not make a big show of her own
outrage but focused on understanding me
and preparing me for the microaggressions
yet to come. She never coddled me, and I
always felt respected because she would
remind me of my strong character and that I
come from a long line of strong women. As
a Latina in high school, I needed
affirmations and validation, not indignation
and representation. She never tried to
“rescue” me. She helped me rescue myself
because she knew I could do it.
I was not a decoration in her life like a
piece of furniture, a set of earrings, or a
handbag that affirmed her connection to
Latinidad. I was an integral part of her life.
Her advocacy and love for justice were like
breathing. She made it look easyeven
though I knew it wasn’t. I did not have to
“perform Whiteness” for Penelope. I never
felt exhausted after meeting with her
because she found me so “fascinating.” I
never felt as though I was her own personal
cultural teacher translating my beautifully
complex world and experience into
manageable, easy-to-swallow bites for her.
Penelope also fed my hungry
educational soul that longed for any kind of
reminder of me, my culture, and my history.
She gave me a well-worn copy of Rodolfo
“Corky” Gonzalez’s epic poem called, “Yo
Soy Joaquin/I am Joaquin.” I devoured all
122 pages of that bookeven the
photographic credits. I memorized it. I even
used it in public speaking competitions. It
contained photographs of people who
looked like my family members. It was
written by someone who looked like my tios
and tias (uncles and aunts). Every page fed
the fire of Chicana pride coursing through
my soul. When she gave it to me, she simply
said, “This made me think of you.” I didn’t
know it at the time, but the book was no
longer in print. That was her one treasured
copy, and she gave it to me. To this day, I
purchase whatever copies I can afford and
share them with my own students.
I believe her ability to connect with me
came from her own blue-collar background.
She knew what it was like to feel strange in
“wealthy” places. She battled the ignorance
of people who looked down on her
interracial/bicultural marriage. Because she
had daughters whose skin signaled that they
were biracial, she understood the challenge
of raising someone with pride when the
world tells you that you should be ashamed.
Even though she had all this “inside”
knowledge, she never treated it as an open
invitation into my Chicana world. She
always waited for an invitation, never
assumed she would be welcomed, and was
humbled when she was invited into our
world.
I met another ally and dear friend in
Stephen when I served as director of
multicultural affairs at a southern institution.
He was the director of the LGBT Center
and, understandably, wary of the new
member of the community. The office I
inherited was not necessarily connected with
the LGBT Center despite it being just down
the hall. I liked him immediately because he
would speak so beautifully about his
students, and the Center was always buzzing
with voices and laughter. He knew what it
was like to have to create a space where
people who are choked by ignorance could
come and just breathe.
He became my ally after an
argument/misunderstanding having to do
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
38
with the copy machine. His office used my
"code” to make copies, and I asked if we
could be reimbursed after a particularly
large job. His office did not have a code
because the university worked very hard to
assure state representatives that public
money was not being used to fund the
LGBT Center. He complained to my boss
and her boss about my “bill.” Fortunately,
my boss told me and asked me to settle the
affair before it grew into a bigger problem. I
learned very quickly about the politics of
paper that arise among those with limited
resources.
I asked him to come meet me in my
office, where we had an intense but real
conversation. I had explained to him that we
were both on the same side but that he put
me in a challenging position because instead
of being able to subsume the Center’s
activities undermine, he now put a spotlight
on it. I explained that I only asked to be
reimbursed because it took a big chunk of
my budget. He thought I would be billing
him monthly, taking resources that he had
otherwise planned for his students. He
thought I was using the opportunity to
establish a clear separation between my
office and his, sending a message that my
issues with racism took precedence over his
battle with homophobia. I understood his
position, and he understood mine. We were
able to come up with a compromise that was
mutually beneficial. After that, we were
friends. He never doubted my motives, and I
never questioned his.
After that misunderstanding, he became
my biggest advocate whenever we were in
all White spaces. He understood the
privileges that came with being a White
male and that those privileges weren’t
erased because of his identity as a gay,
married man. It was nice to sit in meetings
with him because I was not the one who
always had to point out racially and
culturally offensive suggestions. When he
did so, he did not don a cape and come to
my rescue. He was doing it because it was
the right thing to do. The best thing about
his advocacy is he never advertised it. No
one except the people in those meetings
knew what he had done on my behalf and on
behalf of the students of Color I represented.
My interaction with Stephen represents
two more aspects of an ally: (a) the ability to
have and recover from disagreements and
(b) understanding when and how to use their
privilege in spaces where another's voice
was not or would not be heard.
Disagreements are part of every relationship.
Collectors are devastated when confronted
with their bias, implicit or otherwise. I
almost hesitate to point out a Collector’s
problematic words or behaviors because I
know they will respond as if their whole
world has just collapsed. DiAngelo (2018)
describes this response as White fragility.
What is worse is that they will expect me to
help them feel better about themselves and
affirm their imagined place in my world. An
Ally, on the other hand, apologizes, uses the
experience for self-reflection, and then puts
in the work to self-educate. The onus for
growth is on them, not me. An Ally also
knows when to push back and when to
support, when to question and when to
validate. The most important aspect of a
relationship with a mentor who is an Ally is
trust. They have earned a student of Color’s
trust with their consistency and humility.
An Ally is different. Im thinking of the
Collector who wanted to know what it was
like to be a product of Affirmative Action.
First, an Ally would have already taken the
time to learn as much as possible about
Affirmative Action in higher education and
not relied on me to give them a fascinating
story to share with other White colleagues.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
39
Second, if they wanted to talk about
Affirmative Action, they would want to
engage in a scholarly discussion that drew
upon my expertise. As an example, I was
recently on the job market and fortunate to
interview with several phenomenal
institutions and in a position where I turned
down three more campus invitations. I was
overwhelmed and humbled by the attention.
As my colleagues heard of my good news, I
was told by one of them, “I heard about your
luck! Good for you. Of course, you can’t be
surprised that you were going to get lots of
invitations. I mean, you’re Hispanic, right?”
Though I loathe to admit it, his response did
trigger the imposter syndrome in me that
questioned if I was a statistic in
interviewers’ minds representing proof that
they had “tried” to hire a faculty member of
Color.
Knowing that I could not go into another
interview with those doubts, I shared the
experience with an Ally, and she said with
all the sarcasm I had grown to love, “Oh
yeah sure! It has nothing to do with the fact
that you have a f**king JD and PhD, are
published more than he is, have a fascinating
research project that you worked you’re a**
off to complete, and were awarded a Mellon
Fellowship to teach at one of the most
prestigious colleges in the country (referring
to Morehouse College). Yeah, sure, it’s
because you're Hispanic.” Her default was
not to affirm my qualifications with the
patronizing kindness of, “Oh, you know
that’s not true, right? You’re fantastic!”
Instead, knowing me so well, she was able
to criticize his shallow, limited ignorance
while reminding me of my intelligence and
accomplishments.
This interaction is affirmed in the
literature. In a 2008 study of faculty-student
links and college persistence, Cress (2008)
“found that students who feel that faculty
treat them with respect, give them honest
feedback about their ability, challenge them
intellectually and give them emotional
support are less likely to perceive negative
campus climate or prejudice” (p. 104).
Collette Taylor (2013) shares that in her
experience as a Black woman in academia,
I have found my support by
looking outside of my institution
with former mentors, writing
colleagues, friends, and family.
With them, I do not have to be
faculty while black. In this space,
there is a natural understanding
and acceptance of the complexity
of my identity and the
expectation to be the best. The
nonjudgmental and unconditional
support that these individuals
offer is not about what type of
faculty member I am expected to
be. It is framed around the
faculty members that I already
am, and they push me to be better
than my best. (Jones, Taylor, &
Coward, p. 8).
This is an example of moving
away from “deficit model thinking.”
Taylor is describing an experience
where her credentials, intelligence,
and contributions are already
assumed to exist. She does not have
to be taught to be amazing. She just
needs to learn where, when, and how
to direct that energy.
If I am making it seem difficult to
become an Ally, I am. It should be difficult
because it involves doing “the work.” It
requires a White person to excavate parts of
themselves that have received the wrong
messages and replace them with new
experiences and learning. It requires
pursuing education from multiple sources
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
40
and not just waiting for a person of Color to
be an easily accessible teacher. It requires
acknowledging that people of Color possess
a different kind of cultural capital rooted in
resilience, hard work, innovation,
determination, and the ability to negotiate
multiple realities simultaneously. Becoming
my Ally requires an individual to work as
hard as I have to interpret, understand, and
maneuver within an overwhelmingly and
exhausting White world. As Tressie
McMillan Cottom (2016) once wrote, “I
know my whites.” The question becomes
how well you, White mentors, know us.
Conclusion
It is critical to understand that these are
not static categories with clear lines and
definitions. I am still refining my own
understanding of these groups. The fact of
the matter is, as with any category defined in
the social sciences, the lines between these
groups can be blurry. Furthermore, one
person’s Nightlight could be another’s Ally
and vice versa. All Allies are also
Nightlights, but not all Nightlights are
necessarily Allies. The easiest to identify,
however, is the Collectors since they are, by
far, the most common type of White mentor
a student of Color will encounter throughout
their academic and professional career.
Also, if you are a well-meaning White
mentor, please do not use this article to ask
your students/colleagues of Color, whether
you are a Collector, Nightlight, or Ally. As I
have discussed these concepts with my
fellow scholars of Color, most agree that if
one has to ask which category of mentor
applies to them, they are most likely a
Collector.
These reflections are not meant to deride
the genuine efforts of White mentors. There
are some White mentors who believe that
they have a professional, moral, and ethical
obligation to provide mentoring. However,
until mentoring becomes part of faculty role
statements and employment contracts, White
faculty in the academy are under no
obligation to mentor marginalized or under-
represented studentsparticularly if they
cannot do it well. I hope this will spark
conversation, debate, and even self-
reflection. I also understand that being
labeled, categorized, studied, and discussed
amongst students of Color may cause
offense or feel disturbing. To that, I can only
share, “Welcome to my world.” As
evidenced in the literature review, many
people of Color know what it feels like to be
a problem to identify or a puzzle to solve. If
colleges and universities are ostensibly
interested in recruiting a diverse and
representative student population, yet fail to
provide meaningful mentoring, they will
only replicate and reinforce an already well-
established racialized hierarchy.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
52
References
Acker, S., & Hague E. (2015). The struggle to make sense of doctoral study. Higher Education
Research and Development, 34(2), 222241.
Allen, T. (2007). Mentoring relationships from the perspective of the mentor. In B. R. Ragins &
K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice
(pp. 123148). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Bailey, L. E., & Helvie-Mason, L. (2011). Evolving strategies and emerging selves: Two junior
faculty reflect on the road to tenure. Vitae Scholasticae, 28(1), 4164.
Baker, V.L., Pifer, M. J., & Griffin, K. A. (2014). Mentor-protégé fit: Identifying and developing
effective mentorship across identities in doctoral education. International Journal for
Researcher Development, 5(2), 8398.
Bancroft, S.F., Benson, S. K., & Johnson Whitt, W. (2016). McNair scholars’ science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate experience: A pilot study.
Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 28(1), 3.
Barker, M. J. (2011). Racial context, currency, and connection: Black doctoral student and white
advisor perspectives on cross-race advising. Innovations in Education and Teaching
International, 48(4), 387400.
Barker, M. J. (2016). The doctorate in black and white: Exploring the engagement of black
doctoral students in cross-race advising with white faculty. The Western Journal of Black
Studies, 40(2), 126140.
Bishop, A. (2015). Becoming an ally: Breaking the cycle of oppression (3rd ed.). Nova Scotia,
Canada: Fernwood Publishing.
Blockett, R. A., Felder, P. P., Parrish, W., I, & Collier, J. (2016). Pathways to the professoriate:
Exploring black doctoral student socialization and the pipeline to the academic
profession. The Western Journal of Black Studies, 40(2), 95110.
Calafell, B.M. (2007). Mentoring and Love: An Open Letter. Critical Studies Critical
Methodologies, 7(4), 425441.
Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in
qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cohen, G. L., & Steele, C. M. (2002). A barrier of mistrust: How negative stereotypes affect
cross-race mentoring. In J. Aronson (Ed.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of
psychological factors in education (pp. 305331). New York: Elsevier, Inc.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
53
Crenshaw, K. (2007). Framing Affirmative Action. Michigan Law Review First Impressions,
105, 123133.
Cress, C. M. (2008). Creating inclusive learning communities: The role of student-faculty
relationships mitigating negative campus climate. Learning Inquiry, 2, 95111. doi:
10.1007/s11519-008-0028-2
Crisp, G., & Cruz, I. (2009). Mentoring college students: A critical review of the literature
between 1990 and 2007. Research in Higher Education, 50(6), 525545.
Daniel, C. A. (2007). Outsiders-within: Critical race theory, graduate education and barriers to
professionalization. Journal of Sociology and Social Work, 35(1), 2542.
DeChavez, Y. (2018, November 6). It’s time to decolonize that syllabus. Los Angeles Times.
Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/books/la-et-jc-decolonize-syllabus-20181008-
story.html
DeFour, D.C., & Hirsch, B.J. (1990). Mentoring in the preparation of graduate students of color.
Review of Educational Research, 71, 549574.
Derman-Sparks, L., Brunson Phillips, C., & Hilliard, A. G., III. (1997). Teaching and Learning
Anti-Racism: A Developmental Approach (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
DeWalt, C. S. (2004). In the midst of a maze: A need for mentoring. In D. Cleveland (Ed.), A
long way to go: Conversations about race by African American faculty and graduate
students (pp. 4146). Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.
DiAngelo, R. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.
Boston: Beacon Press.
Dillow, C. (2009). Growing up: A journey toward theoretical understanding. Qualitative Inquiry,
15(8), 13381351.
Edwards, J. (2017). Narrating experiences of sexism in higher education: A critical feminist
autoethnography to make meaning of the past, challenge the status quo, and consider the
future. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(7), 621634.
Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut
Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2011). Autoethnography: An overview. Historical
Social Research, 36(4), 273290.
Esposito, L., & Romano, V. (2014). Benevolent racism: Upholding racial inequality in the name
of black empowerment. Western Journal of Black Studies, 38(2), 6983.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
54
Felder, P. P., Stevenson, H. C., & Gasman, M. (2014). Understanding race in doctoral student
socialization. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 9, 2142.
Fletcher, S., & Mullen, C. A. (Eds.). (2012). The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring and Coaching in
Education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.
García, A. (2005). Counter stories of race and gender: Situating experiences of Latinas in the
academy. Latino Studies, 3(2), 261273.
Griffin, R. A. (2012). I am an angry black woman: Black feminist autoethnography, voice, and
resistance. Women’s Studies in Communications, 35, 138157.
Griffin, K.A., Muñiz, M., & Espinosa, L. (2016). Graduate diversity officers and efforts to retain
students of color. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 53(1), 2638.
Hellsten, L.-A M., Martin, S. L., McIntyre, L. J., & Kinzel, A. (2011). Women on the academic
tenure track: An autoethnographic inquiry. International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary
Subjects in Education, 2(1), 272275.
Hewlett, S. A. (2013). Forget a mentor, find a sponsor: The new way to fast-track your career.
Boston: Harvard Business Review.
Hewlett, S. A., Peraino, K., Sherbin, L., & Sumberg, K. (2010). The sponsor effect: Breaking
through the last glass ceiling. In Harvard Business Review Research Report (pp. 185).
Boston: Center for Work Life Policy.
Hochschild, A.R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Hughey, M. W. (2014). The white savior film: Content, critics, and consumption. Philadelphia:
Temple University Press.
Ibarra, H., Carter, N. M., & Silva, C. (2010, September). Why men still get more promotions
than women. Harvard Business Review, 8085. Retrieved from
https://hbr.org/2010/09/why-men-still-get-more-promotions-than-women
Jack, A. A. (2016). (No) harm in asking: Class, acquired cultural capital, and academic
engagement at an elite university. Sociology of Education, 89(1), 119.
Johnson, Brad W. (2017, April 23). How to be an ally to new minority scholars. Chronicle of
Higher Education. Retrieved at https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-to-Be-an-Ally-
to-New/239859
Johnson-Bailey, J., & Cervero, R. M. (2004). Mentoring in black and white: The intricacies of
cross-cultural mentoring. Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 12(1), 721.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
55
Johnson-Baily, J., Valentine, T., Cervero, R., & Bowles, T. (2009). Rooted in the soil: The social
experiences of Black graduate students at a Southern research university. Journal of
Higher Education, 80(2), 178203.
Jones, S. J., Taylor, C. M., & Coward, F. (2013). Through the looking glass: An
autoethnographic view of the perceptions of race and institutional support in the tenure
process. The Qualitative Report, 18(58), 116.
Katzew, A. (2009). ‘Hello profesora’: Teaching as a Chicana at a predominantly white
university. Latino Studies, 7(2), 252261.
Lavariega Monforti, J. L., & Michelson, M. R. (2008). Diagnosing the leaky pipeline:
Continuing barriers to the retention of Latinas and Latinos in political science. PS:
Political Science and Politics, 41(1), 161166.
Margolis, E., & Romero, M. (1998). The department is very male, very white, very old, and very
conservative: The functioning of the hidden curriculum in graduate sociology
departments. Harvard Educational Review, 68(1), 133.
McGuire, G.M., & Reger, J. (2003). Feminist co-mentoring: A model for academic professional
development. NWSA Journal, 15(1), 5470.
McMillan Cottom, T. (2016, December 13). The problem with Obama’s faith in white America.
The Atlantic. Retrieved from
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/obamas-faith-in-white-
america/510503/
Miller, D. (2008). Shades of gray: An autoethnographic study of race in the academy.
International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(4), 347373.
Mora, P. (1985). Chants. Houston: An Arte Público Press.
Mora, R. A. (2014). Counter-narrative. Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue, 36, 1. Retrieved
from https://centerforinterculturaldialogue.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/key-concept-
counter-narrative.pdf
Padilla, A.M. (1994). Ethnic minority scholars, research, and mentoring: Current and future
issues. Educational Researcher, 23(4), 2427.
Patton, L. D. (2009). My sister’s keeper: A qualitative examination of mentoring experiences
among African American women in graduate and professional schools. The Journal of
Higher Education, 80(5), 510537.
Patton, L., & Harper, S. (2003). Mentoring relationships among African-American women in
graduate and professional schools. In M. Howard-Hamilton (Ed.), Meeting the needs of
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
56
African-American women, (pp. 6778). New Directors for Student Services no. 104. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Phelps-Ward, R., & DeAngelo, L. (2016). Feeding the pipeline toward the doctorate: Examining
the formal mentoring experiences of Black undergraduate students. The Western Journal
of Black Studies, 40(2), 111125.
Ramirez, E. (2014). “Qué estoy haciendo aquí? (What am I doing here?)”: Chicanos/Latinos(as)
navigating challenges and inequalities during their first year of graduate school. Equity
and Excellence, 47(2), 167186.
Reddick, R. J., & Ortego Pritchett, K. (2015). “’I don’t want to work in a world of whiteness":
White faculty and their mentoring relationships with black students. The Journal of the
Professoriate, 8(1), 5484.
Rockquemore, K. A. (2016, February 3). Most mentoring today is based on an outdated model
(essay). Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/users/kerry-
ann-rockquemore?page=3
Schlemper, M.B., & Monk, J. (2011). Discourses on ‘diversity’: Perspectives from graduate
programs in geography in the United States. Journal of Geography in Higher Education,
35(1), 2346.
Smith, D. T., & Crawford, K. (2007). Climbing the Ivory Tower: Recommendations for
mentoring African American women in higher education. Race, Gender, and Class,
14(1/2), 253265.
Smith, E. P., & Davidson, W. S., II. (1992). Mentoring and the development of African-
American graduate students. Journal of College Student Development, 33(6), 531539.
Solorzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microaggressions, and
campus racial climate: The experiences of African American college students. The
Journal of Negro Education, 69(1/2), 6073.
Sparks, A.C. (2000). Autoethnography and narratives of self: Reflections on criteria in action.
Sociology of Sport Journal, 17, 2143.
Twale, D. J., Weidman, J. C., & Bethea, K. (2016). Conceptualizing socialization of graduate
students of color: Revisiting the Weidman-Twale-Stein framework. Western Journal of
Black Studies, suppl. Special Issue: Exploring Doctoral Student Socialization and the
African American Experience, 40(2), 8094.
Wise, T. (1998). Is sisterhood conditional? White women and the rollback of affirmative action.
NWSA Journal, 10(3), 126.
Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Martinez-Cola: White Mentors
ISSN 2152-1875 Volume X, Issue 1, April 2020
57
i
i
I thank my colleague Dr. Selina Gallo-Cruz for suggesting this third category.
... As mentors, White faculty should use their privilege and power to help BIPOC students navigate the White-epitomized system more easily. Martinez-Cola (2020) describes three types of mentors: collectors, nightlights, and allies. White mentors must avoid becoming "collectors" (Martinez-Cola, 2020) who use BIPOC students to showcase their anti-racist work giving the spotlight to themselves. ...
... Martinez-Cola (2020) describes three types of mentors: collectors, nightlights, and allies. White mentors must avoid becoming "collectors" (Martinez-Cola, 2020) who use BIPOC students to showcase their anti-racist work giving the spotlight to themselves. Instead, as "nightlights," mentors should acknowledge the prevalence of biases and institutional racism in academia and use their privilege, social capital, and cultural capital to reveal the unspoken and unwritten rules BIPOC students will likely encounter. ...
... Instead, as "nightlights," mentors should acknowledge the prevalence of biases and institutional racism in academia and use their privilege, social capital, and cultural capital to reveal the unspoken and unwritten rules BIPOC students will likely encounter. As "allies", mentors invite mentees to conferences and introduce them to important individuals beyond simple introductions (Martinez-Cola, 2020). They recognize a mentee's cultural capital and position them in committees and leadership roles where their talents can thrive. ...
Article
Full-text available
A social justice recruitment and retention model for BIPOC school counselors into counselor education doctoral programs is described. This article represents a call to action for counselor educators to examine their practices and policies for recruiting and retaining BIPOC school counselors in doctoral programs and the field of counselor education.
... Similarly, the presence of BIPOC in spaces expands opportunities for students to identify with allies and mentors, with similar lived experiences. Community is important because, if not adequately prepared for the role, white mentors or other mentors with dissimilar identities from those of the mentee, frankly, may do more harm than good for the BIPOC or other minoritized students, and may further reinforce an unjust and racialized hierarchy instead of providing meaningful mentoring for the minoritized students 18 . White mentors or mentors from a majority group should be adequately prepared to mentor individuals from marginalized and underrepresented groups. ...
Article
Full-text available
Geoscience organizations shape the discipline. They influence attitudes and expectations, set standards, and provide benefits to their members. Today, racism and discrimination limit the participation of, and promote hostility towards, members of minoritized groups within these critical geoscience spaces. This is particularly harmful for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in geoscience and is further exacerbated along other axes of marginalization, including disability status and gender identity. Here we present a twenty-point anti-racism plan that organizations can implement to build an inclusive, equitable and accessible geoscience community. Enacting it will combat racism, discrimination, and the harassment of all members.
... We might also consider prestige bias-being considered one of the 'big names' in your field or being employed at a prestigious Fig. 4 Homophily and group size affect citation gaps, a with searches and different publication rates, and b with searches and bias institution can affect your citation chances, and many other aspects of your career (Morgan et al., 2018). We might also think that access to mentors, which has been found in a lot of cases to be a barrier for many social identity groups (Milkman et al., 2015;Martinez-Cola, 2020), is relevant as it would help improve quality of work, as well as likelihood of publication and citation. Citations may also be playing a sort of signaling role (to signal to the referees your competence in the field) and that referees are going to be looking for already well-cited people or papers, increasing citations to those who have already been well-cited and discouraging citation of others. ...
Article
Full-text available
The social identity of a researcher can affect their position in a community, as well as the uptake of their ideas. In many fields, members of underrepresented or minority groups are less likely to be cited, leading to citation gaps. Though this empirical phenomenon has been well-studied, empirical work generally does not provide insight into the causes of citation gaps. I will argue, using mathematical models, that citation gaps are likely due in part to the structure of academic communities. The existence of these ‘structural causes’ has implications for attempts to lessen citation gaps, and for proposals to make academic communities more efficient (e.g. by eliminating pre-publication peer review). These proposals have the potential to create feedback loops, amplifying current structural inequities.
... 80,81 Although there has been some movement toward a more diverse workforce, advanced degree programs are often unsuccessful in recruiting and retaining students of color. [81][82][83][84][85] Training providers without advanced degrees in EBTs may help to diversify the EBT workforce more quickly. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To test for equivalence between providers with and without advanced degrees in multiple domains related to delivery of evidence-based treatment. Data source: Provider and client data from an effectiveness trial of Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT) in a major metropolitan area in the United States. Study design: We tested for equivalence between providers (N = 182) with and without advanced degrees in treatment-related knowledge, practices, and attitudes; job demands and stress; and training engagement and trainer-rated competence in AF-CBT. We also conducted exploratory analyses to test for equivalence in family clinical outcomes. Data collection: Providers completed measures prior to randomization and at 6-month follow-up, after completion of training and consultation in AF-CBT. Children and caregivers completed assessments at 0, 6, 12, and 18 months. Principal findings: Providers without advanced degrees were largely non-inferior to those with advanced degrees in treatment-related knowledge, practices, and attitudes, while findings for job demands and stress were mixed. Providers without advanced degrees were non-inferior to providers with advanced degrees in consultation attendance (B = -1.42; confidence interval (CI) = -3.01-0.16; margin of equivalence (Δ) = 2), number of case presentations (B = 0.64; CI = -0.49-1.76; Δ = 2), total training hours (B = -4.57; CI = -10.52-1.37; Δ = 3), and trainer-rated competence in AF-CBT (B = -0.04; CI = -3.04-2.96; Δ = 4), and they were significantly more likely to complete training (odds ratio = 0.66; CI = 0.10-0.96; Δ = 30%). Results for clinical outcomes were largely inconclusive. Conclusions: Provider-level outcomes for those with and without advanced degrees were generally comparable. Additional research is needed to examine equivalence in clinical outcomes. Expanding evidence-based treatment training to individuals without advanced degrees may help to reduce workforce shortages and improve reach of evidence-based treatments.
Chapter
Education emphasizes the importance of mentorship in K-20 spaces, concerning the success of instructional scholars. In one regard, when mentorship is disaggregated by race, White scholars are often privileged to receive consistent, organized mentorship to professionally maneuver through instructional pipelines. In another regard, Black scholars, specifically Black women scholars, do not receive the same level of mentorship support as their White counterparts. The notion that approaches to mentorship can differ based on race and or gender can become a destructive form of microinvalidation. This narrative centers Black female scholars' journeys regarding their ethnographic mentoring experiences. Thus, the authors of this work define and describe mentoring using microinvalidation as a conceptual lens to frame their experiences. Further, recommendations are provided for mentoring frameworks that might encourage the academy to reimagine mentoring processes for Black female instructional scholars.
Article
Full-text available
This article provides a duoethnographic reflection of the authors’ experiences as Asian American women who work in the field of criminology and criminal justice. As two faculty members who actively and loudly contradict notions of quiet, submissive Asian women (or, more specifically, shout “Fuck you!” at these racist tropes), we recognize that while our mere existence in academia disrupts the model minority myth, we have also benefitted from the myth and our proximity to whiteness. As such, we aim to describe the ways in which we have navigated our own identities in interactions with those at the predominantly white institutions where we are/have been employed. Specifically, we share our experiences and negative repercussions related to student mentorship, institutional and organizational biases, and social justice work. We conclude with a discussion of recommendations and advice for faculty and students, accomplices, and administrators based on our shared vision of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Article
Full-text available
Many academic disciplines are presently striving to reveal and dismantle structures of domination by working to reform and reimagine their curricula, and the ethics and values that underpin classroom settings. This trend is impelled by momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement in tandem with a worldwide call from Indigenous scholars and their allies for more equality in research and epistemological plurality. We contribute to such efforts through applying perspective and analysis concerning anti-racist and decolonized approaches to teaching environmental studies and sciences (ESS). This article discusses the opportunities and challenges of embracing a decolonized and anti-racist approach with an emphasis on courses in higher education in North America. We conclude with guidance for educators about strategies for incorporating such approaches.
Article
Full-text available
Nationally, racial and gender disparities persist in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. These disparities are most notable at the doctoral level and are also found in the doctoral outcomes of Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program participants (Scholars) despite opportunities designed to promote their doctoral success. Scholars from three McNair Programs were surveyed. The survey included items related to Scholars’ perceptions of their McNair Program experiences, graduate advisor relationship, and experiences with stereotype threat. Scholars overwhelmingly reported their McNair Program experiences as beneficial to their STEM graduate studies and their graduate research advisors as supportive. However, Black female Scholars also overwhelmingly reported experiences related to stereotype threat. Improvements for survey items and the need for STEM education research to explicitly link educational experiences with institutional oppressions such as racism and sexism are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Published in 2001, the Weidman-Twale-Stein model of graduate student socialization was developed to frame student socialization in a general way. Research published since that time suggests that socialization also is informed by particular individual and institutional characteristics that comprise the more general constructs in the mode. Therefore, this article pays particular attention to the socialization needs of African-American graduate students. We focus attention on the inequity of resource distribution and its consequences, greater need for diversity and inclusiveness, constructing ways to bridge isolation and social distance between students, peers, and faculty, and the critical need to offer more academic support. Based on the results of numerous published research studies on graduate students from diverse backgrounds, we made modifications to the 2001 framework and model.
Article
Full-text available
Our aim in this paper is to develop an alternative conceptualization of post-civil rights racism—one primarily, although not exclusively, directed against people socially defined as Black—that we refer to as benevolent racism. Unlike other forms of post-civil rights racism, benevolent racism is not predicated on the usual process of de-racialization. That is, rather than invoking the liberal ideal of “neutrality ” or color-blindness as a way to dodge, deny, or defend the racialized social system that supports White privilege (as with other types of post-civil rights racisms), benevolent racism ostensibly acknowledges and often condemns a system of White privilege. However, it does so in a way that further legitimizes and reinforces racist attitudes, policies, and practices in the name of “benevolent ” aims— i.e., in the name of supporting, empowering, and/or defending the Black community. After providing a brief history of racial benevolence within US racist discourse, we address how its current manifestation differs from previous renditions and draw from various sources to provide current examples of benevolent racism. We conclude with a brief statement about the importance of understanding benevolent racism for contemporary research and anti-racist activism.
Article
Full-text available
This article uses the lens of critical race theory to examine the experiences of minority students in and outside of the social work education classroom. Research has not critically analyzed the structures, policies and practices of graduate education programs and how they influence the socialization experiences of students. Qualitative interviews with 15 African American and Latino students reveal that their experiences are often characterized by marginalization and conflict. They suggest that certain aspects of the professionalization process create and support forces that reproduce stratified social relations. These problematic relations have a negative impact on minority students threatening their persistence and professional development. The perspectives of minority students in their own voices provide critical insights into actions graduate programs can take to change the quality of student life in predominantly White institutions.
Article
Full-text available
Qualitative data from 11 African American doctoral degree completers in the field of education are analyzed to identify how race intersects with faculty advising and mentoring, faculty behavior, and faculty diversity and the ways in which they support or hinder doctoral student socialization. Race is considered as an influence on the academic processes associated with socialization during doctoral study. Previous research highlights that racial experiences are a significant aspect of academic success and persistence for specific racial and ethnic groups. However, very little is known about race as it relates to doctoral student socialization, specifically. A racial socialization framework serves as a guide for examining the confluence of race and doctoral student socialization. This study is guided by the following questions: In what ways are racial experience engaged during the doctoral process? How does the racial experience support or hinder doctoral student socialization? In what ways does the racial experience influence doctoral student degree completion and success? The faculty-student relationship is highlighted as a key feature of understanding racial experience as it relates to the doctoral student socialization. Findings present several situations where race is considered as intellectual and identity priorities as students experience doctoral student socialization. Several strategies are presented to support students who consider race during the doctoral process in an effort to promote their academic success and degree completion.
Book
Full-text available
This Handbook is a leading source of ideas and information on mentoring and coaching. It covers national and international research on schools, higher education, and disciplines within and beyond education. The editors draw together contributions and present evidence bases and alternative worldviews in which concepts are both untangled and substantiated. Unique in its coverage, it maps current knowledge and understanding, and values and skills underpinning educational mentoring and coaching for learning. Leading scholars and practitioners address issues of theory and practice in school, higher education, and other educational contexts. These contributors set out practical applications of coaching and mentoring for practitioners and researchers and also address social justice issues, such as those involving traditional and technical forms of mentoring and coaching, democratic and accountability agendas, and institutional and historical patterns of learning. The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring and Coaching in Education is an essential reference for practitioners, researchers, educators, and policymakers. Sage website: https://sk.sagepub.com/reference/hdbk_mentorcoachedu
Article
Increasingly, the third-level sector across the world has acknowledged a hopeless track record of promoting and retaining competent women in leadership roles. However, change, in terms of women’s contribution and participation, has been minimal at least, or gradual at the most optimistic. In this paper, a woman with more than two decades experience as a full-time academic in the field of higher education relates her sense of loss and purposelessness when attempts to reach for a higher level position were consistently unsuccessful. Using autoethnography she relates her experiences of sexism in higher education, and the ways in which sexism turns into oppression through silencing. She proposes how her experiences point to the need for change, and she indicates that training to reduce gender bias has been proven to improve feelings of workplace fit for participants who collaborate with people who have addressed their gender bias.
Article
This qualitative study explores how 14 institutional agents (graduate diversity officers or GDOs) work towards improving retention for graduate students of Color. Consistent with Lovitt’s framework of graduate student retention, findings reveal GDOs implement diverse strategies that promote opportunities for academic integration, social integration, and the development of cognitive maps. GDOs’ effectiveness was challenged by limited financial and institutional support, as well as the campus and departmental climate, limiting efforts to promote academic integration.
Article
The cinematic trope of the white savior film-think of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, or Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai-features messianic characters in unfamiliar or hostile settings discovering something about themselves and their culture in the process of saving members of other races from terrible fates. In The White Savior Film, Matthew Hughey provides a cogent, multipronged analysis of this subgenre of films to investigate the underpinnings of the Hollywood-constructed images of idealized (and often idealistic) white Americans. Hughey considers the production, distribution, and consumption of white savior films to show how the dominant messages of sacrifice, suffering, and redemption are perceived by both critics and audiences. Examining the content of fifty films, nearly 3,000 reviews, and interviews with viewer focus groups, he accounts for the popularity of this subgenre and its portrayal of "racial progress." The White Savior Film shows how we as a society create and understand these films and how they reflect the political and cultural contexts of their time.