Invisible and ambiguous : the racialized experience of Asian American administrators in Christian higher education.


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This qualitative study investigated the racialized experiences of Asian American administrators in Christian higher education. Through personal interviews with 23 Asian American administrators across Christian higher education, the study aimed to provide a more complex analysis of the administrators' racialized experiences. The analysis focused on three specific factors: (1) challenges and barriers, (2) unique racialization, and (3) assets, capital, and strengths leveraged to resist and succeed in higher education. The results showed that the challenges faced by Asian American administrators were not reducible to a single factor but were a result of a host of different factors. The findings revealed that participants discussed three identity-based challenges (racial, gendered, and religious) and two other key administrative challenges (lack of Faculty and Staff of Color and ineffective racial diversity efforts). Additionally, the study found that Asian American administrators not only faced the various challenges and barriers faced by all People of Color, but also faced challenges and barriers that were specific to Asian Americans, such as the consequences of navigating the Black White Binary, including invisibility and ambiguity. Despite these challenges, Asian American administrators were not passive victims of marginalization, but instead resisted, persisted, and leveraged various strengths and assets in their work as Christian higher education administrators. The findings identified and described seven forms of cultural capital leveraged in Christian higher education: aspirational, familial, linguistic, social, resistant, navigational, and spiritual.