Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
One area of identity that challenges dominant ideals of professional, neat, or appropriate appearance is Black hair. Although Black hair expression is frequent in media, politics, and pop culture, there still remains a perceived stigma surrounding its presence in positions and environments (e.g. tenure positions or predominantly White institutions) that ironically promote a mission of diversity and inclusion. Black women, no matter their rate of graduation, level of intellect, status or achievement are not exempt from the challenges of bias, perception, stigma, stereotype or marginalization within majority White hierarchal spaces such as the academy. This includes Black female faculty who hold positions of high status, such as tenure. The presence of Black hair expression in these positions challenges others, as well as Black women, to accept images of Black beauty and Black identity. This study aims to explore how tenured Black female faculty navigate professional challenges with hair expression surrounding identity (i.e. sexism and racism) and the value of the Black visage in the academy. In addition, this study investigates and brings attention to current thoughts on Black hair perception, microaggressions, stigma, stereotype, and assimilation issues that Black female faculty experience with their hair as they navigate the academy.
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