“Outsider Forever”: Black Women Multicultural Center Administrators' Identity Negotiation Experiences At Historically White Institutions

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study was to examine the identity negotiation/shifting experiences of Black women multicultural center administrators as an outsider-within at historically white institutions in the United States. I used a critical lens to explore how eleven Black women multicultural center administrators described their identity negotiation/shifting experiences through the lens of being an outsider-within. To further understand these experiences, I applied the frameworks of Collins’ (2000, 2002) Black Feminist Thought and Jackson’s (2002a, 2002b, 2004) Cultural Contracts Theory to answer the two guiding research questions. The two research questions for this study were “How do Black women multicultural center administrators describe the nature of being an outsider-within at a Historically White Institution?” and “How do Black women multicultural center administrators at HWIs describe identity negotiation/shifting, in relation to their roles?” Through a qualitative interviewing study, I was able to use ethnographic and phenomenological interviewing techniques, along with object-elicitation, to explore the lived-experiences of eleven self-identified Black women through one semi-structured interview. Thematic narrative analysis was applied to identify common elements across the eleven participant narratives. Findings from the study suggest that Black women multicultural center administrators at HWIs experience pressures to negotiate/shift their identities but persist due being outsiders-within at their campuses. The five key themes of: 1) Remembering One’s Self-Definition, 2) Navigating Controlling Images, 3) The Weight of Institutional Oppression, 4) Resisting Oppression, and 5) Identity Negotiation/Shifting, explored this phenomenon in further detail. Overall, the findings of this study add to emerging research on Black women administrators and multicultural centers at HWIs.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Black feminist thought, Black women, cultural contracts theory, historically white institution, identity negotiation or shifting, multicultural center