Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Education Evaluation and Research
Karen L. Tonso
LEARNING AND LIVING WHILE BLACK: BLACK STUDENTS, WHITE UNIVERSITIES, AND THE AGE OF POST-AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND POST-RACIALISM
Advisor: Karen L. Tonso
Major: Educational Evaluation and Research
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
With Critical Race Theory (CRT) and social justice serving as complementary conceptual frames, this ethnographic study investigates the learning and living experiences of ten African American students of a predominantly White university in the Midwest. While several studies have investigated Black students' experiences at PWIs, most notably Feagin, Vera and Imani (1996), much of this research was conducted pre-2000, prior to two important and notable social developments: the systematic dismantling of post-secondary affirmative action policies and the increasingly popular, but highly contentious, ideology of post-racialism. Thus, the purpose of this study was to understand how Black students are faring present-day, in the wake of efforts to dismantle affirmative action in higher education, and to characterize the United States as post-racial, as having moved beyond considerations of race.
The following questions guided this study and served to deepen understanding of the learning and living experiences of African American students: What figured into Black students' decision to choose to attend a predominantly White university? How do Black students describe their own experiences learning and living in a predominantly White university? To what extent might such experiences impact Black students' sense of well-being and academic achievement? In what ways might Black students cope and deal with learning and living at a predominantly White university? To what extent might race be implicated in the experiences of Black students at PWIs, and how do students conceptualize, describe, and make sense of race/racism? What is the range of educational opportunities afforded Black students, and to what extent might these opportunities be perceived as being on par with those afforded White students? To what extent might the learning and living experiences of Black students exemplify different forms of oppression?
Overall, findings indicate that race remains a salient factor for Black students at a predominantly White university, thus debunking the notion of post-racialism. Black students also perceive disparities in the educational opportunities them and their White counterparts. Lastly, exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence (i.e. five faces of oppression, Young, 1990) were found to be in evidence.
Reaves, Rosalind, "Learning And Living While Black: Black Students, White Universities, And The Age Of Post-Affirmative Action And Post-Racialism" (2013). Wayne State University Dissertations. 689.