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Exploring Multiracial Consciousness: Voices of Multiracial Students at a Predominantly White Institution

The purpose of this study was to describe multiracial consciousness drawing on the conceptual frameworks of Freire (1974/2013) and Harris’s (2016a) MultiCrit. This dissertation called explicit attention to how multiracial students experience racialized oppression (i.e., monoracism; Johnston & Nadal, 2010) at a predominantly White institution. A secondary purpose of this study was to describe how multiracial students acknowledged their self-awareness of critical consciousness to take action against the oppression that they experienced on their college campus. This study used a critical narrative inquiry approach and collected qualitative data from 15 multiracial students at one predominantly White institution in New England. Participants completed in Phase one, a pre-interview self-reflection, an individual interview, and a post-interview self-reflection. Selected participants who continued the study in Phase two, completed a follow up focus group. The data collected supported the three main themes that emerged from the findings, which created a newly revised definition of multiracial consciousness. First, participants described multiracial consciousness, which included self-reflection, self-education, and an awareness of monoracism of being perceived both as multiracial and monoracial. Second, students elucidated their campus experiences with Whiteness and monoracism in their academic and social spaces which included both engagement and disengagement from the cultural and racial student organizations at their PWI. Third, students discussed their desire to strive to take action for racial justice as multiracial individuals through protests and petitions in college, but they felt constrained by monoracism because they were told that they were “not being enough” racially, culturally, or socially to speak up on issues of racial justice. Using their voices to initiate action through interpersonal dialogues proved to be the most preferred choice for multiracial participants to voice their perspectives and strive for racial justice. Despite their campus racialized experiences, participants individually expressed being proud of their multiracial background because of their ability to see the world from multiple perspectives. Ultimately, participants were empowered to foster an individual sense of multiracial consciousness to counteract the oppression of monoracism. Several recommendations for research, institutional policy, practice, and multiracial students are proposed to encourage the development of students’ multiracial consciousness.
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