Telling a different story : a counternarrative on Black graduates’ experiences at Canadian post-secondary institutions

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Moore, Carla A.
Critical Race Theory
Black Students
All too often, narratives in media, public discourse, and some scholarship in the United States and Canada focus on low access and retention rates of black students attending post-secondary institutions. Although it is important to understand the reasons tempering the success of students socialized as black, it is equally important to study how and why some black students succeed. The aim of this research inquiry, which was guided by a pragmatist approach, was to learn from the experiences of black graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions, a topic that has received little scholarly attention in Canada to date. Specifically, this study examined how black graduates navigated obstacles, adopted success strategies, and drew on family and community support. This qualitative, phenomenological study engaged 16 participants from Ontario in a semi-structured telephone interview. An interdisciplinary theoretical framework engaging concepts of Critical Race Theory, Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth Model, and Resiliency Theory was developed to support and form the interpretation of the findings of this study. Participants described everyday expressions of racism, faculty interactions and/or relationships, institutional resources, and academic challenges as presenting obstacles that created difficulties during their programs. The findings demonstrate that the participants employed a variety of resources and strategies, which led to their success. The results of the study allowed identification of specific success factors and strategies, such as encouraging and supportive faculty interactions and/or relationships, encouraging and supportive black faculty interactions and/or relationships, support groups, familial and kinship traditions and values, work ethic modelling, use of institutional resources, engagement of various forms of resistance tactics, and resilience. Findings explore the significance of various forms of community cultural capital, including aspirational, navigational, social, familial and resistant. Contextual differences such as participants’ personal and family histories and education experiences in Canada informs which of the community cultural capital were utilized.
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