Strange fruit: The collective crushing of black women in academe

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Thompson, Valerie J.
Coles, D. Crystal

Thompson, V.J. and Coles, D.C. (2023), "Strange Fruit: The Collective Crushing of Black Women in Academe," Jean-Marie, G. and Tran, H. (Ed.) Leadership in Turbulent Times (Studies in Educational Administration), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 141-155.


Black women faculty are experiencing multiple marginalities within their intersectional identities (Thomas & Hollenshead, 2001). The overwhelming obstacles that they face in academia regarding racism, lack of mentorship, and its impact on productivity are well documented (Allen, Huggins-Hoyt, Holosko, & Briggs, 2018). However, through a raced and gendered intersection centering Black women, these workplace obstacles can transform into something far more insidious (Young & Hines, 2018). Black women academics do not enter academic environments that have been liberated from racism, sexism, or misogynoir; instead, the environment itself is a microcosm of the world in which they reside (Thompson, 2020). Black women academics are double minorities and face issues such as isolation from collegial networks; lack of institutional/departmental support; forced positionality into the role of mentorship for students of color; and increased visibility and bodily presentation concerns (Allen et al., 2018; Pittman, 2010). Further still, the workplace dynamics and needs of students of color can collide within the work of Black women academics, increasing the prevalence of othermothering and a racialized and gendered racial uplift (Griffin, 2013; Mawhinney, 2011). Though previous studies have demonstrated positive effects of university diversification, women, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, and religious minorities continue to face antagonistic environments (Cunningham, 2009; Hughes & Howard-Hamilton, 2003). Rooted within Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Theory, this chapter aims to highlight the intersectional identities of Black women academics and identifies mechanisms to address how Black women are experiencing multiple marginalities within their intersectional identities (Hirshfield & Joseph, 2012).

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