Analyzing University Exploitation of Diversity to Legitimize Hiring Discrimination: A Black Woman Professor's Narrative

Analyzing University Exploitation of Diversity to Legitimize Hiring Discrimination: A Black Woman Professor's Narrative

Constance P. Hargrave (Iowa State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 34
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5942-9.ch012
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This critical race counter-story chronicles a Black woman professor's candidacy for an associate dean position at a predominantly White institution. It is uncommon to hear the voices of those who have been marginalized and disenfranchised in the hiring process at a university. This counter-narrative disrupts the silencing of voices at the margin and challenges the master narrative of the university hiring process by giving voice to a Black woman professor's experience. Using covert racism, the researcher deconstructs the university's actions to operationalize a deficit narrative of her associate dean candidacy, while simultaneously espousing a commitment to diversity by increasing funding to an outreach program for students of color. The chapter concludes with a discussion of self-care. Black feminist thought provides the framework to understand how acts of self-care influenced the self-definition of the Black woman professor.
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At a large, Midwestern, predominately white research university, three women interviewed for a senior administration position: two White women and one African American woman. After interviewing, one woman withdrew from the pool as it became apparent in the interview that she did not meet the position requirements. One woman was selected as the senior administrator, and one woman was “disadvantaged” by the university in the interview process. Two women were hired as senior administrators based on their interviews. What happened to whom is the basis of this chapter.

This narrative deconstructs the covert racist practices of a higher education institution to dissuade legal action by an African American female professor who the university “disadvantaged”1 in her application for an associate dean position. Two processes that commonly occur on a university campus provided the context from which this story of institutional racism emerged. The two processes were: a unit reorganization that brought about the need to determine a new administrative home for a STEM outreach program for students of color; and a national search for an associate dean of extension and outreach. Although independent of one another, the two processes occurred simultaneously.

Covert Racism provides the ideological perspective from which I examine and analyze the events that occurred in this narrative. I use critical race theory’s counter-storytelling to voice my experiences- first, as a woman professor of color leading a precollege outreach program for students of color, and then as a candidate for an associate dean position. Following the timeline of events, the narrative begins with the reorganization of an administrative unit. The political nature of the precollege outreach program placed me in racialized and gendered spaces where micro-aggressions were common and not viewed as racist/sexist by Whites (Smith, Yosso, & Solorzano, 2011). I describe events that show the context and nature of interactions with university leaders.

Next, the events surrounding my candidacy for the associate dean position are presented as well as how my candidacy was adversely influenced by the actions of university administrators. Through veiled acknowledgement of their wrong-doing, the university conflated the decision regarding an administrative home for the precollege program with its resolution of racial discrimination charges. In so doing, the university provided new funding for the precollege program while simultaneously labeling my associate dean candidacy as inferior and deficit.

Using Black Feminist Thought, I discuss the methods and means of self-care used to endure my conflict with the university. I conclude the chapter with my rationale for choosing not to sue the university for racial discrimination.

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