Historically White Institutions and the Quest for Racialized Peoples to Perform Their Trauma

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Nyima Coleman
Littisha Bates


By Nyima Coleman, Sociology

Advisor: Littisha Bates

Presentation ID: 299

Abstract: This paper seeks to analyze and uplift the realities that students of color experience within historically white institutions of higher learning. My research explores the ways in which these institutions perpetuate notions of conditional belonging to their racialized students. Specifically, I examine the implications of the ways that racialized students are continuously expected to perform trauma for their institutions. This happens in a plethora of contexts; be it interpersonal, institutional or belonging to professional opportunities that lay just outside the institution, such as fellowships and internships. I argue that marginalized students and a specific subset of our 'identity informed' experiences are often weaponized against us within academia, while masquerading as benign, beneficial, educational or even therapeutic. This work seeks to understand how this exploitative relationship affects racialized students, regarding their sense of belonging, place and value to and within their institutions. I utilize data from five in depth interviews. In these interviews, the lived experiences of my participants centered around four themes: isolation/invisibility, performance of trauma, performative diversity, and importance of community. These results illustrate both the resilient resistance of racialized students, as well as the immense amount of work left to do in the quest to make education equitable to all who exist within it. Given that this research was both a pilot project and conducted with a small sample size, it is a precursor to continued work on this topic.

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Social (In)Justice