Articles for Talking About Student Activism, Marginalization, and Race in Higher Education

In a recent Editor’s Note (On Empathy, Vol. 20, Iss. 3), Executive Editor Frank Shushok, Jr. wrote:

Humanitys most promising moments are when people listen, empathize, and seek to understand perspective, realities, or experiences that are diverse, unique, and different. Its not easy; it takes will. When this occurs, however, its not unusual for both sides to change. In a time where race, gender, sexuality, and religion, among hundreds of variables, seem to divide us in profound ways, empathy and perspective seeking are necessities for interrelatedness. Without empathyjustice-making and peace-keeping are impossible. So cultivating empathetic practices among ourselves and our students must be among our highest priorities.”

Your work on campus is so important to students and colleagues around you. One way we can support each other as people and educators is to make a space to have difficult conversations. A space to work through issues of identity, oppression, and marginalization in our local communities and beyond is vital for improving self-understanding as well as understanding of those different from you. Below you’ll find articles hand-picked by the editorial team to assist you in having these conversations with colleagues, students, and friends. But these are just a starting place– if you have questions, concerns, or want help starting a dialogue on your campus, email us at aboutcampus@vt.edu and we’ll work with you towards this goal.

Conflict as a Catalyst for Learning

by Rashné R. Jehangir

Rashné R. Jehangir challenges her students and herself to engage with tough issues like class, race, gender, disability, and homophobia. How does she help them learn from, and even embrace, the conflict that inevitably arises?

Confessions of a Recovering Racist

by Donna M. Hauer

Hauer shares an experience of making a misinformed judgement, and how the student she put in a box made her realize she was make assumptions that weren’t true.

Difficult Conversations

by Debra Miretzky and Sharon Stevens

It takes more than diversity of campus populations for individuals to interact in meaningful ways with others of different backgrounds. Debra Miretzky and Sharon Stevens share their experience launching a series of campus conversations focused on raising personal awareness and building relationships across difference.

Multiracial in a Monoracial World

by Samuel D. Museus, April L. Yee, and Susan A. Lambe

The authors interviewed four undergraduate students of color about their experiences on a ‘colorblind campus.’ The students tell their own stories of  discrimination, frustration, and willingness to have the race conversation that their peers don’t want to engage in.

Racism and Sexism in Cyberspace

by Samuel D. Museus and Kimberly A. Truong

Museus and Truong report on the negative consequences of the ubiquitous radicalized and sexualized stereotype of Asian American college students that appear online.

Black Within Black

by Chrystal A. George Mwangi and Sharon Fries-Britt

The authors disrupt the idea of a monolithic experience among Black students by reporting on Black within-group diversity and the perceptions and experiences of Black immigrants in higher education.

Beyond Discourse to Emancipatory Action

by Penny A. Pasque and Hailey Neubauer

One undergraduate student’s transformational story of self-discovery and personal development frames this discussion of the importance of undergraduate involvement in social justice research.

A Candid Conversation about Schools, Culture, and the Widening Opportunity Gap in America with Professor Robert D. Putnam

by Frank Shushok, Jr.

Robert D. Putnam brings our attention to the worsening problem of inequality of opportunity in American society. Though it is a daunting problem that goes far beyond the realm of higher education, Putnam shares a hopeful message of the potential to return to our core values of fairness and equity.

A Sea of Change on the Horizon

by Jennifer Meyer Schrage

Jennifer Meyer Schrage contends that adjudication-only models of conflict resolution limit opportunities for restorative justice and student learning, for both those who have caused harm and those who have suffered harm. She advances the multi-pronged Spectrum Model as a more appropriate model for serving all stakeholders’ needs.

Taming the Madvocate Within

by Sydnee Viray and Robert J. Nash

Though social justice work often evokes strong feelings, Sydnee Viray and Robert J. Nash argue that advocates must move beyond anger in order to be effective.

Educating for Diversity

by Reginald Wilson

Wilson explains why achieving cultural diversity on campus requires nothing less than a complete transformation of our institutions of higher learning. This means reinventing everything, from the canon to the classroom and beyond.

Engaging Prospective and Admitting African American and Other Minority Students Before They Arrive on Campus

by Forest B. Wortham

With the effectiveness of traditional methods of connecting with incoming Wittenberg University minority students waning, Forest B. Wortham spans the virtual and physical worlds to help them find their place.