The Unchosen Me examines the experiences of African American collegiate women and the identity-related pressures they encounter both on and off campus. Rachelle Winkle-Wagner finds that the predominantly white college environment often denies African American students the chance to determine their own sense of self. Even the very programs and policies developed to promote racial equality may effectively impose "unchosen" identities on underrepresented students.
At the heart of this book are the voices of women who struggle to define and maintain their identities during college. In a unique series of focus groups called "sister circles," these women could speak freely and openly about the pressures and tensions they faced in school.
The Unchosen Me is a rich examination of the underrepresented student experience, offering a new approach to studying identity, race, and gender in higher education. Rachelle Winkle-Wagner is an assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.
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The Unchosen Me examines the experiences As one attempts to choose their identity, "there are imposed or ascribed characteristics of race, class, and gender that occur before one makes a choice [can be made]" p. This means that no matter what choices or claims to identity that Black women make on a college campus, they will constantly have certain characteristics that are forced upon them and not chosen.
Application of the Unchosen Me Concept College Retention Practices Consciousness-raising groups The concept of the Unchosen Me can be applied to many areas of higher education, but it can have a major impact if it is applied to college retention practices or used to foster the autonomy of Black women on college campuses. Reaching Across the Color Line How are race and gender created through interactions between self, others, and society?
Overarching Research Question Participants 27 African American, 2 Black Latina, 1 Multiracial Research Site Predominantly White, public, Midwestern institution of higher education "Sister Circles" Winkle-Wagner decided on small groups to help the women feel more comfortable sharing their experiences Being Black on Campus Feelings of isolation, alienation, and culture shock Embarking on Enemy Territory Bridging the gap between home and campus Between the Spotlight and Invisibility "The forced choice [for Black women] is either to "represent the Black race" or simply be ignored.
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At other times, the women felt invisible because the content in their courses did not reflect their personal backgrounds, and thought that if they shared their perspective, it would not be well received. Racial Tug-of-war for Black Women Black women in the college setting also face a constant struggle between being "too White" or "too ghetto". The tension between acting "too White" or "too ghetto" provides evidence consistent with the Unchosen Me theoretical concept because it was created through interactions p.
Interactions that Create Race and Gender The women in the study depicted gender within the boundaries of a continuum between being a "good woman" and a "bad women" p. The women grappled with conflicting notions of strength and womanhood p. The women felt that they needed to act inferior and less-capable, which perpetuates the stereotype that women are inferior to men The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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