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Black Women Speaking From Within

Essays and Experiences in Higher Education


Edited By Kelly K. Hope

In Black Women Speaking From Within: Essays and Experiences in Higher Education, contributors use intersectional and interdisciplinary lenses to share the ways in which they understand, navigate, resist, and transform student services, learning, teaching, and existing in the academy. This book explores and discusses the following question: How do Black women experience and perceive place and agency in higher education? Black Women Speaking From Within draws upon the influence organizational culture, sense-making, and sisterhood has on praxis and pedagogy and places the Black woman’s stories and experiences at the center of the conversation.

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Chapter 4: The Invisible Woman: How Institutional Cultures Perpetuate the Marginalization of Black Women (Kelly K. Hope)


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Chapter 4: The Invisible Woman: How Institutional Cultures Perpetuate the Marginalization of Black Women


Invisibility is “the state of being ignored, or not taken into consideration” (The English Oxford Dictionary, Online). Since our tumultuous arrival into the United States, black women have experienced, lived, and understood oppression, degradation, and disregard (Dillard, 2016). In fact, embedded in the history of the United States and the fabric of its educational system, in particular, is the idea that the inclusion of black women’s bodies and brains within any educational setting is reprehensible (Dennis, 1998). Thus, our bodies and brains have been reduced, ridiculed, and reprimanded (Lewis & Neville, 2015) in such a way that the collective experiences of black women “have been excluded from academia as definers, producers, and conduits of knowledge” (Samuel & Wane, 2005, p. 77). Even though scholars have researched the complexities and nuances of the black woman’s experience in higher education, institutions have not rectified the incongruities within its culture (Jeffries & Jeffries, 2015).

When I speak of culture, I am referring to the relationship between an institution’s members and the environment in which the institution is formed (Aten, Howard-Grenville, & Ventresca, 2011; Hatch & Zilber, 2011). Institutional culture is the shared assumptions and perceptions of institutional members about how opportunities for inclusion, innovation, and access manifest (Schein, 2012). It encompasses behavioral expectations (Robbins & Judge, 2015), and constitutes the basis of social...

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