Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

James M. Thomas

Second Advisor

Kirk Johnson

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Jackson

Relational Format



Black students attending predominately white institutions (pwis) have many obstacles to overcome while navigating their college career. Black students at pwis experience micro-aggressions and different forms of racial discrimination. Various studies have focused on the experiences of black students and some focused on the responses to their experiences in terms of coping; however, literature is lacking when it comes to how students of color at pwis are also effectively simultaneously resisting racism through their coping mechanisms. My research question is "how do black students at pwis cope with and resist the micro-aggressions found within the structure of new racism?" To answer the question, I first describe micro-aggressions. Then, I delve into the theory of new racism as outlined by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Patricia Hill-Collins as a theoretical framework that is needed in examining the black experience today. My research was done at a pwi located in the south. I conducted 12 in-depth qualitative interviews to determine how black students resisted and coped with micro-aggressions and different forms of racial discrimination when attending pwis. I found that forms of resistance and coping vary from ostracizing oneself, to minimizing, ignoring, and excusing racism. I also found that some use humor while others engross themselves in campus activities and lifestyle. I conclude that the covert structure of new racism caused my participants to be most fearful of micro-insults. This resulted in the avoidance technique being the most comform used in resisting and coping with micro-aggressions. I end with a discussion and suggestions for future research.



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