Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Second Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Third Advisor

Nolan L. Cabrera


The reification of community colleges as symbolic gateways for access to higher education for historically underrepresented groups belies fundamental structural inequities these ostensibly democratic institutions exhibit, most notably the alarming overrepresentation of White faculty relative to Students of Color. Grounded in this structural problem, this study interrogates the ways in which the dominant racial group (White faculty) construct their racial identity and position Students of Color within a larger discursive field of whiteness.

Specifically, using Fairclough’s (2013) three-dimensional framework, I present a Critical Discourse Analysis of the relationship between self-described antiracist White faculty’s racial identity construction, whiteness, and their discursive positioning of Students of Color. Responding to the underconceptualization of a model in higher education for analyzing the relationship between White and whiteness (and the ancillary effects of this relationship on Students of Color), this study offers a heuristic for White faculty who seek racial justice to act in ways consistent with their professed aims.

Consistent with larger patterns of discontinuity reflected between the aspirational claims of the community college as a democratic institution and actual practice, findings from this study indicate that constructions of the White self as a fixed, antiracist entity are disingenuous and dangerous. That is, across participants’ pre-classroom, formative experiences and with respect to their constructions of Students of Color, self-described antiracist White faculty exhibited a continuum of racist and racial justice discourses, suggesting that acting, not being antiracist (in a reified, static sense) is achievable. In mapping out participants’ racist and racial justice formative and classroom-based discursive moves, implications for re-conceptualizing White identity construction to mitigate the harm even well-intentioned Whites enact toward Students of Color are discussed.


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