Making Meaning of Race and Racialization in the Lives of Five International Graduate Students

Making Meaning of Race and Racialization in the Lives of Five International Graduate Students

Ashlee Lewis (University of South Carolina, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9749-2.ch004
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Abstract

The author examines the ways in which race and privilege operate on a global scale through the experiences of international students studying in the United States. Specifically, the researcher explores how meanings attached to terms such as “Black” and “White” shift but do not collapse when making sense of students' experiences with race and racial classification in both the U.S. and in the contexts of their home countries. The researcher provides insight into international students' experiences with and understandings of race in both their home countries and in the United States within the broader context of student mobility. Furthermore, student narratives promote an understanding of the ways in which race is socially constructed, historically constituted, and geographically situated. Finally, the study will reveal the dominance of a reductionist “Black and White” portrayal of race in U.S. racial discourse and the ways in which that discourse is damaging to international students.
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Background

Acknowledging the difficulty and complexity of defining race around the globe, Chavez & Guido-Dibrito (1999) offer a broad understanding of racial identity. They argue that racial identity and its close but not identical counterpart, ethnic identity, are “critical parts of the overall framework of individual and collective identity” (p. 39). They assert that “ethnic and racial identity development models provide a theoretical structure for understanding individuals’ negotiation of their own and other cultures” (p. 41). Further, they state that connections based on racial and/or ethnic identity “allow individuals to make sense of the world around them and to find pride in who they are” (p. 41).

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