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Black identity and cultural aesthetics as navigational tools at predominantly and historically White institutions - An interruption of Whiteness, and its impacts on student belonging, success and achievement

Index #1001

Level of Experience: Intermediate
Session Track: Student Affairs and Affiliated Professionals

The Black Identity and Cultural Aesthetics Institute will explore experiences of Blackness in a White constructed framework, and how that impacts student engagement, development, and persistence at predominantly White and other institutions. This institute examines and gauges the historical context that Blackness is situated in, experienced, and navigated, and the impact on internal and external perceptions of Black intellect, genius, and prospective academic achievement.

Participants will be guided through a historical snapshot of the creation of Black identity, the misconceptions, and appropriations. We will consider Black cultural identity and aesthetics through various lenses, but especially within the framework of the current academic and social reality of Whiteness and the Black caste system on college campuses as evidenced through campus practices and policies, classroom and social climate, racial incidents, and the continued calls to action centered on the demands by Black students for recognition and resources. 

Finally, this institute will offer an African-centered cultural praxis of student engagement that can positively impact Black student belonging fostering academic development, retention, and success for first-year students at 4-year PWI colleges and universities.
The institute facilitated is a two-day, three-part process that will:

  1.  dissect the creation of Blackness, particularly in the United States, addressing the impact of stereotypes, typecast, and categorization of Black identity;
  2.  articulate the experiences of Black students, as well as staff and faculty, the impact of micro and macro aggressions that create post-traumatic stress and provide an analysis of White Supremacy as a master narrative with global implications;
  3.  show how a racialized climate may be exacerbated in asynchronous and synchronous learning environments;
  4.  introduce an African-centered and Black cultural praxis that supports Black student belonging and academic success and offer methods for formulating a resilient sense of self and identity through creating intentionality of activities and designing a healthy and sustainable environment; and,
  5.  offer tools, readings, and direction for Black students, faculty, and staff with universal implications. 

Those who attend this institute will explore and learn how we might as higher education and academic professionals and leaders:

  1.  understand the long journey of Black identity and put it into today's context and create intentionality dialogue and behavior that elevates the environment of support for students;
  2.  create tools to provide a centered and brave space for Black students, staff, and faculty; and,
  3.  assist Black students in co-constructing a resilient sense of self and identity particularly in a hostile or seemingly unsupportive place by designing a healthy and sustainable environment.

Presenter: 

Nzingha Sonya Dugas, M.A.,Doctoral Candidate, Executive Director and CEO, Umoja Community Education Foundation, San Francisco, CA