Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Perceptions of African American Faculty in Kinesiology-Based Programs at Predominantly White American Institutions of Higher Education

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Perceptions of African American Faculty in Kinesiology-Based Programs at Predominantly White American Institutions of Higher Education

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of African American faculty on their organizational socialization in kinesiology-based (i.e., sport pedagogy, exercise physiology, motor behavior, sport management/history) programs at predominantly White American (1) institutions of higher education (PW-IHE). Participants were 9 African American tenure-track faculty members from various kinesiology-based programs at PW-IHE. Data were gathered via interviewing and analyzed within the framework of critical race theory (Ladson-Billings, 2000). Findings are presented using storytelling and thematic narratives. Interviews with the participants revealed four major recurring themes with regard to: (a) resources, opportunities, and power structures; (b) programmatic neglects and faculty mentoring needs; (c) social isolation, disengagement, and intellectual inferiority issues; and (d) double standards, marginalization, and scholarship biases. This study suggests that faculty and administrators at PW-IHE should develop sensitivity toward organizational socialization issues relevant to faculty of color.

Key words: African American faculty issues, critical race theory, organizational socialization


Recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics reveal a continually ascending trend of ethnic minority populations. Ethnic minorities (i.e., people of color) estimates (in millions) are 38.8 Hispanics, 36.6 Blacks (2), 3.5 Native Americans, and 0.8 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders in the U.S. (Nasser, 2003). By the year 2020, nearly 50% of the U.S. school population will be composed of students of color (Meacham, 1996). Over a decade ago, Smith (1993) pointed out the disparity between the percentages of school-aged children of color and their physical education teachers of color (5%) compared to White American teachers (92-95%). Still today, there exists a poor representation of faculty and graduate students of color in predominantly White institutions of higher education (PW-IHE; Cross & Slater, 2002; Hodge, Faison-Hodge, & Burden, 2004; Jones, 2001).

Scholars argue that greater emphasis should be placed on recruiting and retaining more faculty and graduate students of color within the physical education profession (Hodge, 1997; Hodge & Stroot, 1997; King, 1994; Webb & Hodge, 2003). With respect to enhancing faculty diversification and success, it is important that we explore both historical and contemporary factors impacting the organizational socialization of African American and other faculty of color in kinesiology programs at PW-IHE in America.

Historical Implications of Exclusion from PW-IHE

Historically, faculty and students of color have encountered racism, isolation, and exclusion from full participation in America's IHE (Anderson, 2002). On the other hand, varied federal government programs and policies (e.g., affirmative action) have helped open doors for women and people of color in education, employment, and beyond. Yet, despite years of initiatives aimed at faculty and student diversification in higher education, there remains poor representation of faculty and students of color in most PW-IHE. For example, African Americans make up only 3.6% of the total faculties at the nation's 27 highest ranked universities (Cross & Slater, 2002).

The longstanding underrepresentation of faculty of color in America's PW-IHE has potential detrimental consequences for those faculty, such as limiting their voices and successes within the academe (Hedge et al., 2004). In fact, Turner, Myers, and Creswell (1999) reported that faculty of color felt isolated, lacked information about tenure and promotion, encountered unsupportive work environments, experienced language barriers and gender bias, and lacked mentoring and support from colleagues.

Discourse on Eurocentric Paradigms and Racial Ideologies

Since the 1700s and inseparable from the influences of U. …

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