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RIP Jim Crow

Fighting Racism through Higher Education Policy, Curriculum, and Cultural Interventions

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Edited By Virginia Stead

Together we can build enough momentum to see Jim Crow lying silent and still in his grave.
This book shouts out ways that we can and must respond to the sickening accumulation of racially inspired and systemically sanctioned deaths. Today, we remember the passing of young, Black Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In responding to this event, we are determined to dismantle the alexithymia (indifference to the suffering of others) that pervades our campuses. It is nothing less than a by-product of racism protected by the illusion of democracy.
RIP Jim Crow contains three sections: (1) Antiracist Theory and Policy; (2) Antiracist Administration, Curriculum, and Pedagogy; and (3) Antiracist Cultural Interventions.
Each of the 31 chapters contributes to the normalization of anti-racist policy within academic institutions, antiracist discourse within academic cultures, and institutional praxis that upholds speaking out against racist activity. The hope is that this book will also reduce racism in the broader world through academic relationships with community partners.
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Chapter Twenty-Five: Black Learning Matters: Experiences of Exclusion and Lessons for Inclusion of Students of Color in Higher Education

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Black Learning Matters

Experiences of Exclusion and Lessons for Inclusion of Students of Color in Higher Education

WYTRESS RICHARDSON, LAUREN HEIDBRINK, AMY L. SHIRLEY MUHAMMAD, AND TARA BRYANT-EDWARDS



INTRODUCTION

Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to establish learning environments that are accessible, inclusive, and supportive. Yet, students of color face significant obstacles in gaining access to college and persisting in their studies. Students of color routinely encounter intolerance, insensitivity, and racism within institutions that claim to promote tolerance and fairness. While some may dismiss student experiences as isolated or intermittent, we argue that there is a systemic bias within higher education that not only reflects societal prejudices but also compounds the oppression of students of color, particularly African American students.

The authors of this chapter bring together 30 years of experience working in 4-year colleges, community colleges, and high schools that primarily serve students of color. The university where three of the authors currently teach serves “non-traditional” students—working adults whose average age is 35, the majority of whom are African American. We draw on our professional and personal experiences to capture the everyday encounters from our students’ perspectives, as well as the sometimes herculean efforts they make to attend college.

We begin this chapter with an examination of the troubling landscape of higher education, a landscape that fails students of color at every step. From access to retention to graduation...

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