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Title:Stereotypes and microaggressions against Black African international students in U.S. higher education institutions
Author(s):Akinrinola, A. A.; Bayeck, R. Y.
Subject(s):International Students
Black African
U.S. Higher Education
Geographic Coverage:United States
Abstract:Introduction This paper examines extant literature on stereotypes and microaggressions against Black African international students in U.S. postsecondary education institutions. We explore the lived experiences of Black African international students studying at various U.S. higher education institutions for patterns of stereotypes and microaggressions. The term Black Africans refers to people from Western, Eastern, Southern (excluding "White" South Africans), and Central parts of Africa, who have darker skin pigmentation. This contrasts with North Africans, who for the most part have lighter skin pigmentation and may pass for "White," depending on their phenotypical features/variations. In fact, in political and academic discourses, North Africa is often associated with the Middle East under the broad term MENA, an abridgment of Middle East and North Africa (Amrani, 2015). Preliminary Literature Review Most studies that look at race-related issues vis-a-vis international student experiences classify participants by national/continental representations, depending on the research's foci. For example, in a study that examined the making of the meaning of race and racialization by international graduate students, Lewis (2013) featured participants from England, Brazil, Nigeria, China, and Norway, representing Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe respectively. Lee and Rice's (2007) study analyzed the experiences of twenty-four international students from India, East Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Gulf Region, Canada and New Zealand. Hanassab's (2006) study, which assessed "the experiences of international students…[on] perceived discrimination" (p. 157) in U.S. postsecondary institutions, sampled participants from Asia, Europe, Canada, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania. Other studies employ a domestic v. international student perspective, homogenizing the experiences of international students. Although this blanket approach has contributed to understanding the racialized experiences of international students in U.S postsecondary institutions, it offers little insights into the dynamics of stereotypes and microaggressions among Black international students, who may experience race-related stress because of the intersectionality of their identity. For example, a Black male, African international student who combines at least two minoritized identities: "Black" and "African international student." The apparent aspect of this student's identity that is seen by others is the color of his skin. So, without hearing his non-"American" accent, he may be perceived as African American and become a target of racialized oppression. Research Questions and Methods We will utilize a purposive sampling technique, comprising five Black African international graduate students-from Ghana and Nigeria-from three U.S. institutions, including University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Texas Tech University, and Bowling Green State University. Some of the survey questions include, but not limited to: o Have you personally experienced stereotypes and microaggressions in the U.S.? o Do you think stereotypes and microaggressions against a Black female, international student may be amplified because of the color of her skin? o Do you think Black international students may face stereotypes and microaggressions that "White" international students (from Europe and Canada) studying in the U.S. may not face? Emerging Themes Exclusion: dearth of literature examining the lived experiences of Black African international students. Studies on racial microaggressions against minoritized groups on U.S. campuses seldom include Black African international students. Perceived language and academic abilities: preliminary review of extant literature suggests that Black African international students face language and race-based microaggressions that White international students from the UK, Australia, and Canada do not face. Intersectionality of Identity: Race plays a role in Black African international students' experiences of stereotypes and microaggression in the U.S. For example, stereotypes and microaggressions against a Black female, international student may be amplified because of the color of her skin. As the search for a better understanding on this issue continues, we will utilize preliminary findings from our surveys to organize semi-structured interviews and focus groups, and carry out further data analysis. Implicitly construed as one of the aims of the 2018 CIES conference is the need "to expand our awareness of the voices, actors and knowledge producers that have historically been marginalized in educational research and institutions." For many Black African international students, being "Black" held no racial significance until they came to the U.S. Lewis suggest that "one key aspect of international student identities that is likely to become complicated during their here [in the United States] is their racial identity" (2013, p. 60). So, central to this "awareness," is the importance of critically challenging-to disrupt-the systems of institutionalized marginalization against Black international students, which undermine their agency in the process of scholastic production and representation.
Issue Date:2018-03-29
Citation Info:Akinrinola, A., & Bayeck, R. (2018). Stereotypes and Microaggressions Against Black International Students in U.S. Higher Education Institutions. Presented at the 62nd Annual Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Mexico City, March 25—28, 2018
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-08-02

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