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Racial Microaggressions and Faculty of Color at Predominantly White Institutions

posted on 2023-03-23, 09:27 authored by Leona Mickles-BurnsLeona Mickles-Burns

 Faculty of Color are disproportionately underrepresented in the professoriate. This narrative study examines the experiences of seven self-identified Black full-time faculty with racial microaggressions at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), highlighting their struggles, and identifying individual and institutional strategies to combat racial microaggressions. The purpose of the study is to (1) expand the current literature base on racial microaggressions (2) to clarify the effects of racial microaggressions, and (3) to provide interventions to help victims and perpetrators of racial microaggressions. The target audience is institutes of higher education, faculty and administrators, and potential faculty in the higher education pipeline. The participants were recruited using purposive criterion and snowball sampling. In-depth semistructured interviews using open ended questions were used. Critical Race Theory is the theoretical framework. The four themes developed from the narratives are (1) cultural exclusion and diminished legitimacy in the workplace; (2) stress, resiliency and coping in a White dominated field; (3) power in academia; and (4) the intersection of identity including race and gender. The data revealed that cultural exclusion and diminished legitimacy in the workplace was the most prominent theme, and the intersection of identity, although important was the least. Limitations include the Black faculty participating in this study may differ from all Black faculty at all universities. Implications of the study is to improve understanding of racial microaggressions and to illuminate recommended interventions that support PoC to successfully navigate in the academy. Conclusion, the experiences noted in this study could be useful to those seeking faculty of color pursuing to work at PWIs, particularly Black faculty. 


No funding was provided


Declaration of conflicts of interest

The author declare no conflicts of interest

Corresponding author email

Lead author country

  • United States

Lead author job role

  • Career College Faculty

Lead author institution

Spring Arbor University

Human Participants

  • Yes

Ethics statement

The study was approved by the the Institutional Review Board of Spring Arbor University. Written informed consent was obtained from the study participants.

Terms agreed

  • Yes, I agree to Advance terms


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