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The Complexity of Black Biracial Identity Within the Contexts of Peer and Faculty Interactions at a Predominately White Institution

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Preparing for Higher Education’s Mixed Race Future

Abstract

This chapter examines the relationship between identity and the university community for Black, biracial women students within a predominantly white institution. Using intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) and aspects of racial identity, racial identification, and racial category (Rockquemore et al., 2009) as conceptual frames, we sought to understand the experiences of two Black biracial women. We extend the prior literature through an examination of the identity and community development of biracial women undergraduate students who identify as Black. Research typically looks at Black people as a homogenous group (Patton et al., 2016), often involving Black men from low-socioeconomic status backgrounds as the defining group. This chapter examines the experiences of Black/white biracial women who are expressing their identities within a teacher education program and interact with various individuals, including each other and their peers, and program faculty. We explore how these students’ racialized and gendered identities influence their interactions with various faculty and students who they consider to be intergroup or intragroup members of Black/white biraciality.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    These racial categories were chosen because they are more commonly used in government and education admissions contexts, not because we believe Pacific-Islanders are the same as Asian communities, that all of the 500+ sovereign indigenous nations identify under one umbrella, that all Black people are African-American, or that Latinx and Hispanic are interchangeable.

  2. 2.

    A term the authors both now push back against for a variety of reasons.

  3. 3.

    The original study asked, “What are the experiences of underrepresented students in Teacher Education?” and the entire study asked them questions about their experiences in different settings and with different people, without asking direct initial questions about the role they felt race played. The students of this study frequently introduced race into the discourse, particularly from the standpoint of students who identified as Black and biracial, but saw themselves as the only ones present to varying extents. This led to us conducting a second-round analysis and realizing the larger and more transformative steps we could take would be to explore B/w biraciality in the context of this school/program/time in place.

  4. 4.

    Our participants used African-American and Black interchangeably.

  5. 5.

    Example: Multiracial -> biracial -> B/w biracial, but may identify as Black, white, biracial, human, and/or change depending on environment and year.

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Correspondence to Brittany N. Smotherson .

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Smotherson, B.N., Lannin, J.K. (2022). The Complexity of Black Biracial Identity Within the Contexts of Peer and Faculty Interactions at a Predominately White Institution. In: Johnston-Guerrero, M.P., Combs, L.D., Malaney-Brown, V.K. (eds) Preparing for Higher Education’s Mixed Race Future. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-88821-3_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-88821-3_9

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-88820-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-88821-3

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)

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