Racial and ethnic diversity in higher education: White privileged resistance and implications for leadership

Lidyvez Sawyer, Roberta Waite


Extrapolating history is crucial to mitigating the current underpinnings of racial and ethnic inequities in higher education; however, to establish sustainable change, one must consider its fundamental origin. The inception of 15th-century white settler colonialism is at the epicenter of modern-day racial discrimination and the normalcy of oppressive practices in the United States' education system (US) of America. To understand white settler colonialism and its denigrating manifestations is to understand the dynamics between those in power and those who are subjugated. America's white settler colonialism's horrific ideology is insidiously depicted through torture, persecution, brutality, plunder, and pillage (Traore, 2004). This ideology is the foundation that breeds our society's racial and ethnic hierarchy, including in higher education. Racial discrimination in higher education creates a partisan, culturally divided learning environment, frequently normalized in academic leadership. The purpose of this paper is three-fold: (a) to examine normalized whiteness in higher education, (b) to examine how mere talk about diversity and inclusion inhibits disruption in power to transforming modern-day consciousness of inequities, discrimination, and racism, and (c)  discuss action steps to promote leadership among black and brown raced individuals in higher education.


higher education; white privilege; racism; leadership; diversity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.29.4668

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