Black, Female, and Foreign: The Triple-Invisibility of Afro-Caribbean Women in the Academy

Black, Female, and Foreign: The Triple-Invisibility of Afro-Caribbean Women in the Academy

Christina Ramirez Smith
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8321-1.ch005
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Society has failed to acknowledge intra-group differences, and as a result, disregarded the ethnic distinctiveness, cultural practices, and norms of Afro-Caribbean emigrant (Rogers, 2001; Vickerman, 2001). In this chapter, the “triple-invisibility” of the Afro-Caribbean woman in the academy is explored within the context of race, gender, emigrant status and the goals concerning broader diversities related to higher education in the US.
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Almost a century ago, journalist John Reed observed that participating in a diverse community may bring “pain, isolation of separateness, [or] intellectual exhilaration, greater self-knowledge and ...human reconciliation” (Lowe, 1992, p. 22).

Colleges and universities across the United States invest in diversity workshops, seminars, require students to take at least one course on diversity, sponsor diverse student groups on campus, host a variety of activities to encourage productive interactions between people from different backgrounds and attempt to revise curriculums to reflect content on diversity. Yet, the literature on the unique experiences of the Afro-Caribbean woman in higher education is insufficient. Women of Afro-Caribbean backgrounds suffer triple-invisibility in academe because of their emigrant status and related challenges, such as differing accents. Questions such as “do I fit in?” “How will I excel in this environment?” and “do they really like me better?” plague their minds and are topics of concern.

Authors Alfred & Swaminathan (2004a) challenges the Academy to recognize the unique concerns of this sub-group of women…” and “…to recognize the different experiences that [tend to] leave us out (p.xii). According to authors Manrique & Manrique (1999a) and Turner (2000a), it seems as the nature of higher education as it is presented to immigrant women, poses a dilemma in the absence of openness, accessibility and opportunities as expected.

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