Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Elizabeth Aranda, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maralee Mayberry, Ph.D.


race, diversity, higher education, college student


Recently, the diversity rates at universities in the United States have been increasing (Ortiz-Frontera 2013). With more minorities enrolling into predominantly white institutions (PWIs), one might infer that this signals a major step of progression for the United States. However, it is essential to understand the experiences and challenges that minorities may face when attending these institutions. Understanding these challenges are important because they are often minimized and ignored due to the ambiguity of microaggressions. This can be harmful for Black students psychologically and may impact their self confidence in many ways. In many instances, Black students face many forms of subtle racism, such as, microaggressions. Microaggressions can be defined as the subtle and dismissible insults that whites tend to inflict on people of color unconsciously and sometimes consciously (Pierce, 1974). Through conducting 12 in-depth semi-structured interviews with a sample of Black students attending a southeastern university. I aimed to answer the following questions: 1) What types of microaggressions do Black students face while attending a more racially diverse university? and 2) To what extent, and in what ways do students manage their emotions in response to microaggressions? Ultimately, I have found that students experience many forms of microaggressions. The main types of microaggressions that were experienced included: feelings of exclusion, tokenism, being stereotyped, and institutional neglect. Lastly, I found that students employ a combination of emotion work strategies in order to protect themselves from these insults, and to stay productive and successful. Policy implications to support students of color and future directions for research are discussed.

Included in

Sociology Commons