Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher & Adult Education

Committee Chair

Edith Gnanadass

Committee Member

Susan Nordstrom

Committee Member

Genia Bettencourt

Committee Member

Andre Johnson


Although research has been conducted on the lived experiences of Black student affairs professionals and academic advisors at Historically White Institutions (HWIs), the literature is scant in its representation of the larger body of Black Professional Staff (BPS) and their experiences. BPS are undervalued and disregarded and are a vital part of the fabric of HWIs. Drawing on Critical Race Theory in Education, anti-Black racism, and plantation politics, the purpose of this critical race methodology study was to describe how Black Professional Staff experienced and navigated racism at an HWI in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). This study also explored how the participants defined resistance and engaged in acts of resistance. The following research questions guided this study: 1. How do Black Professional Staff experience and navigate racism at a Historically White Institution in the Mid-South during the Black Lives Matter Movement? a. What are the dehumanizing and discriminatory acts experienced by BPS at HWIs? 2. What are Black Professional Staff’s acts of resistance at HWIs? To understand the rich counterstories, I conducted semi-structured interviews with eight Black/African-American professional staff members. The findings identified four themes which were represented as four speculative fiction counterstories. Plantation Chronicles, The Whiteness Chip, and The Vampire Chronicles: Miss Anne’s Reckoning revealed that HWIs are not safe for BPS as their bodies and humanity continue to be oppressed. Consequently, the Uprising in the Ivory Tower focused on how the participants defined, engaged in, or carried out acts of resistance. The findings showed that resistance is a state of being rather than doing. The findings point to the need for institutional reforms at HWIs to establish a more equitable and socially just environment. Institutions should eliminate the exploitation of Black bodies and labor by valuing the contributions made by BPS to the institution and campus community, such as respect for BPS’ professional knowledge, education, and skill set. Additionally, Black Faculty and Staff affinity organizations should form coalitions with the campus workers union, local community organizers, and the city's BLM chapter to help foster a collective push for systemic change. Keywords: higher education, Black higher education, Black professional staff, critical race theory in education, anti-Black racism, plantation politics, critical race methodology, speculative fiction counterstories, Black Lives Matter Movement, BLM, resistance


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access