“You never feel so Black as when you're contrasted against a White background”: Black students' experiences at a predominantly White institution in the UK

Lateesha Osbourne, Julie Barnett, Leda Blackwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

“Old” universities in the UK are typically populated with White middle-class students who hail from White majority hometowns, whilst “new” universities have more diverse cohorts from diverse hometowns. Our research conducted with 17 Black students at a predominantly White university, examined the initial encounters in which Black students first realise their minority status on campus. We found that White numerical dominance combined with White students' racialised place-based assumptions about who belongs where, had an immediate and powerful impact on our participants. Importantly, our findings suggest that for Black students coming from diverse hometowns, experiences such as being the only Black person in lecture halls, being told that you are the first Black person your peers have met, and being expected to use urban street slang and sell drugs constituted both a denial of their student identity and a misrecognition of their Black identity. Our analysis highlights the importance of considering the diversity within institutions alongside Black and White students' place-based histories with diversity; and how these are consequential for Black students' experiences of (mis)recognition and (non)belonging on campuses. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article's Community and Social Impact Statement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-395
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Volume31
Issue number4
Early online date6 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The analyses offered here are part of wider PhD research which is funded by the University of Bath Widening Participation Fund. We would like to thank the students who gave their time to participate in this study and Dr Ceri Brown for comments on the initial findings of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • belonging
  • black students
  • higher education
  • misrecognition
  • place
  • race
  • social identities
  • university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '“You never feel so Black as when you're contrasted against a White background”: Black students' experiences at a predominantly White institution in the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this