Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

White, Male, and "Minority": Racial Consciousness among White Male Undergraduates Attending a Historically Black University

Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

White, Male, and "Minority": Racial Consciousness among White Male Undergraduates Attending a Historically Black University

Article excerpt

Enrollments of non-Black students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have recently increased (Drummond, 2000; T. Scott, 2004) to the point that 11% of all undergraduate students enrolled in HBCUs in 2001 were White (U. S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2004). HBCUs with the highest White enrollments tend to be public institutions (Brown, 2002), and court cases such as Adams v. Richardson (1972) and United States v. Fordice (1992) have compelled affected HBCUs to diversify their student bodies. Accelerated transdemographic enrollment patterns (Brown) at a number of public HBCUs have resulted as HBCUs grapple with simultaneous pressures to increase student enrollments (including enrollments of non-Black students), strengthen or maintain institutional quality, and clarify the contemporary functions of the HBCU (Hall & Clossen, 2005).

At the same time, White males in the U.S. represent the race and gender group that is most privileged economically and socially; yet White males are arguably more disadvantaged with respect to developing as racial and gendered beings due to the socialization, entitlement, and privilege bestowed upon them within society (D. A. Scott & Robinson, 2001). Very little research examines the racial consciousness aspects of identity development of White students attending HBCUs where issues of race, gender, privilege, and power can intersect for students in ways that have not been systematically explored.

The purpose of this study was to explore the White racial consciousness (WRC) among full-time, White male undergraduates attending a public, predominantly Black HBCU. Specifically, this study sought to understand how these students, as "temporary minority" students (Hall & Clossen, 2005), made meaning of their collegiate experiences in terms of WRC.

Related Literature

HBCUs were established to provide education for Black students at a time when segregation prevented their enrollment at many colleges and universities (Sissoko & Shiau, 2005). Although the 105 diverse public and private HBCUs enroll 2% of all college and university students in the U.S., they account for 13% of Black postsecondary enrollment (U. S. Department of Education NCES, 2004). In 2000-01, HBCUs conferred 22% of the baccalaureate degrees, 17% of first professional degrees, 11% of master's degrees, and 10% of doctoral degrees earned by Black individuals (National Center for Education Statistics). Allen (as cited in Brown & Davis, 2001) noted common mission-related characteristics of HBCUs including: provision of social, economic, and leadership opportunities for Blacks and the Black community; maintenance of Black historical and cultural traditions; and education of graduates who are uniquely qualified to articulate and interpret issues between minority and majority population groups (Brown & Davis).

In recent years, court rulings (including Adams v. Richardson, 1973 and United States v. Fordice, 1992) that have impacted state systems of higher education focused on remedying lingering racial dicrimination and oppression in the forms of segregated enrollments and disparate institutional funding patterns. Adams v. Richardson exempted public HBCUs from Title VI enforcement of racial desegregation because HBCUs were deemed to play a unique and important role in the education of African Americans (Hobson's College View, n.d.), but the more recent United States v. Fordice did not similarly exempt these institutions. As a result, public universities including HBCUs have subsequently undertaken desegregation initiatives aimed at achieving transdemographic goals, or shifts in the racial composition of enrolled students that mark an institution as desegregated (Brown, 2002). Brown discussed relevant implications for HBCUs, noting that transdemography "offers HBCUs the opportunity to both enrich the student campus context and encourage intercultural communication within the academic environment. …

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