Distinguished Visiting Scholar Sept. 12

Distinguished Visiting Scholar
Ebony Omotola McGee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Diversity and Urban Schooling
Department of Teaching and Learning
Peabody College of Education
Vanderbilt University

Monday, September 12, 2016 • 4:00 pm
Umrath Lounge, Umrath Hall,

“From Resilience to Decolonization: Evolving Interpretations of Black Students in STEM Fields”

“During my doctoral studies, I often saw statistics that framed Black science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students as unsuccessful, despite my own experience and that of many of my Black peers who excelled in college-level STEM fields. I wondered why the standard portrayal of Black students in STEM is one of peril when there is a robust legacy of Black STEM students’ success. I became determined to study resilience and high academic achievement in Black STEM learners. Much research has pointed toward personal agency to explain the successful experiences of Black students in STEM classrooms and on campus, offering narratives of their perseverance in the face of racial stereotyping, bias, and microaggressions—obstacles their White peers do not face. As I researched the academic survival of successful Black students, I grew accustomed to considering resilience the key to their success without paying proper attention to the racialized environments they endured. The next phase of my research used frameworks that interrogate structural aspects of racism in higher education, which breed racist practices, policies, and ideologies that compel some Black students to adopt and maintain mental toughness in order to advance academically. Racialized social systems are those in which economic, educational, political, and social ideologies routinely advantage White people and produce chronic adverse outcomes for students of color (Bonilla-Silva, 1997). I have examined these systems to generate deeper understanding of the contexts responsible for the mental, physical, and socio-emotional concerns of Black STEM students; through my research I’ve highlighted instances when resilience and grit become unhealthy. My scholarship has also expanded to consider the harmful consequences of trying to achieve in an environment where myriad obstacles set up by racialized structures are the norm. This research critiques various higher education efforts on diversity and calls for addressing and eliminating exclusionary mechanisms regulated by both violent and subtle norms for Black students and faculty, and for advancing the dismantling of racist social structures.”

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Ebony McGee
Talk abstract: From Resilience to Decolonization: Evolving Interpretations of Black Students in STEM Fields

The visit of Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Dr. Ebony Omotola McGee is sponsored by the Department of Education in the College of Arts & Sciences and with support from the Office of the Provost, Distinguished Visiting Scholar fund.

Reception to follow