Making our own way: exploring the experiences of mid-level Black womxn student affairs professionals thriving at southern Historically White institutions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
J'nai D. Adams (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Laura Gonzalez

Abstract: This phenomenological study explores mid-level Black womxn student affairs professionals’ ability to thrive at southern Historically White Institutions (HWIs). Thriving is explored through the following areas: navigation, community, and onboarding. Ten mid-level Black womxn student affairs professionals with at least 5 years of professional experience took part in this study. Participants worked in various functional areas at various institutional types across five states. Critical race theory and Black feminist thought were the theoretical frameworks used to frame this study. The following research questions were answered in this study via a demographic survey, semi-structured interviews, and a media elicitation activity: • In what ways, if at all, do mid-level Black womxn student affairs professionals thrive as they navigate Historically White Institutions? o How do mid-level Black womxn who work in student affairs at Historically White Institutions navigate being in that space? o What informal or formal onboarding do mid-level Black womxn working in student affairs at HWIs receive? o What does community look like for mid-level Black womxn working in student affairs at HWIs? At the conclusion of this study, the researcher found that the majority of the participants were thriving in some capacity at their institution; however, their sense of thriving came from self-definition, community support, faith and spirituality, external resources, and onboarding conducted either by participants or onboarding they received from professional organizations or other Black womxn colleagues. A new definition of thriving emerged to capture the experiences of mid-level Black womxn accurately. Implications and recommendations from this study impact not only creating a more inclusive and thereby supportive environment for mid-level Black womxn working in White spaces but also places accountability on HWIs and non-Black colleagues to do self-work and create actionable steps to create an environment that fosters mid-level Black womxn’s ability to thrive.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Black Womxn, Mid-level, Student Affairs, Black Feminist Thought, Critical Race Theory, Thriving, Historically White Institutions
African American women college administrators $z Southern States
Student affairs administrators $z Southern States
Racism in higher education $z Southern States

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