A seat at the table : an instrumental case study on the personal and professional strategies of resistance Black women professionals adapt while employed at a predominantly White institution.


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Black women have been central to the progression of higher education for centuries yet relegated to background roles in the conversation of equity, inclusion, and belonging. Recent scholarly contributions illuminate and center the plight of Black women professionals at predominantly White institutions as they struggle towards professional and personal persistence. Chilly environments within these educational sites ingrain feelings of isolation and alienation, perpetuating exclusionary policy, practice, and rhetoric. When seeking a seat at the proverbial table of advancement and acknowledgment, Black women professionals are given a mere folding chair for decorative purposes and performative measures. Striving for equity of voice and space continues to be a far-grasping concept. Sustaining professional retention and personal engagement for Black women professionals at a predominantly White institution is paramount in cultivating a thriving environment and sense of agency. Applying Black Feminist Thought as a guiding principle and framework encourages Black women professionals to exhibit personal and professional strategies of resistance in their pursuit of self-preservation and belonging. Black Feminist Thought also gives Black Women professionals a shared language and narrative to center in White spaces. Black women professionals can use their collective agency and voice to disrupt the systems and structures that no longer serve them. In turn, this gives them the freedom to adapt sustainable practices for themselves and the community. This instrumental case study gave insight into the strategies of personal resistance four Black women professionals adapted while employed at a private PWI in the southeast region of the United States. Semi-structured interview findings along with narratives derived from a focus group provided a road map on navigational tools for achieving liberation in the institutional culture. Predominantly White institutions can utilize proposed recommendations as they reimagine their retention strategies for Black women professionals and build culturally responsive spaces of reprieve, connection, and belonging.