African American professionals in higher education: experiencing and coping with racial microaggressions

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Using a Critical Race Theory lens, we explored how African American professionals in both HBCUs and PWIs (4-year and 2-year institutions) experienced and coped with racial microaggressions. The participants in this study included fifteen African American instructors/professors and administrators. Despite the type of institution, the emerged themes from interviews indicated that participants experienced an array of racial microaggressions. In addition, many participants addressed race-related stress experienced in the workplace by engaging in both adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies. Implications are provided to discuss the impact that racial microaggressions has on African Americans in the higher education workplace.





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DeCuir-Gunby, JT, OT Johnson, C Womble Edwards, WN McCoy and AM White (2020). African American professionals in higher education: experiencing and coping with racial microaggressions. Race Ethnicity and Education, 23(4). pp. 492–508. 10.1080/13613324.2019.1579706 Retrieved from

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Whitney McCoy

Research Scientist

Whitney N. McCoy is a Research Scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy. Her research explores intersectional identity development for Black girls in educational settings. Specifically, her research focuses on exploring how gendered racial identity influences psychological outcomes in formal and informal settings among Black girls, and investigating how culturally relevant interventions can increase engagement to empower students. McCoy also has extensive experience in designing and evaluating curriculum-based programs related to K-12 STEM and engineering education amongst teachers and students.

In her role at CCFP, McCoy will focus on promoting culturally responsive strategies within two trauma-informed education interventions:

  • Resilience and Learning, a partnership with the Public School Forum to develop and implement a trauma-informed K-12 educational model in North Carolina

  • ITTI Care, a professional development framework to promote workforce wellness and trauma-informed care in early childhood education

She will also devote part of her time to supporting racial equity initiatives with CCFP more broadly, as well as providing consultation to CCFP staff members on strategies for targeting racial equity within their research. 

Prior to joining CCFP, Whitney was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in STEM Education for the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. She oversaw a randomized control trial of a computer science professional development intervention to improve elementary teachers and students' computer science knowledge and coached elementary teachers to support engineering integration in their classrooms. As a doctoral student at NC State University she was a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholar, and her dissertation was awarded Outstanding Dissertation of the Year in College of Education.

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