“Y’all Gon’ Make Me Lose My Mind:” The Psychological Consequences of Code- Switching for Black Men Vice Presidents for Student Affairs at Predominantly White Institutions

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2023-05

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Abstract

Higher education institutions have made little progress in addressing the underrepresentation of Black men on college campuses. The system of higher education is plagued with White supremacy culture and systemic racism. As a result, Black men (students, faculty, and administrators) feel unsafe being their authentic selves on their campuses. Literature has shown that code-switching is a device utilized by Black men to navigate White spaces. This study explored the psychological and emotional consequences that come with code-switching. Employing narrative inquiry methods and framed utilizing the inclusion framework and communication accommodation theory, this study sought to learn how code-switching helps Black male Vice Presidents of Student Affairs (VPSAs) navigate their campuses and how it contributes to their sense of belonging. Twelve semi-structured interviews with Black men VPSAs at predominantly White institutions provided a rare look into the experiences of some of the highest-ranking college-level officials. Findings demonstrate that these men encounter many psychological, emotional, and physiological consequences, ranging from anger and resentment to sadness and regret. This study revealed that code-switching is a necessity for Black men VPSAs to function in their day-to-day roles, but it can also help them advance in their careers. Code-switching is a superpower that Black men have mastered and used to navigate White spaces. The implications of this study suggest that colleges and universities must find better ways to make Black men VPSAs feel like they belong and White administrators must get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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Keywords

Code-Switching, Sense of Belonging, Black Men, AAVE, Emotions, Authenticity, Safety

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