Students with Historically Minoritized Racial Identities

Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, and Students of Color identifying with non-White groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion because of unequal power across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions.

As of the current writing, the University of Minnesota is a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) with just over 26% of UMTC undergraduate students identifying with a historically minoritized racial identity. There is a long history of marginalization, discrimination, and exclusion of Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, and People of Color because of unequal power across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. This means students may experience bias and racism across campus. Other significant realities may include (and certainly are not limited to):

  • BIPOC students attending PWIs often experience isolation as they navigate the singular experience of being the only BIPOC student in the room
  • Students often carry the burden of representation when it comes to speaking from a historical context
  • Students may feel like they have to outshine their peers in order to disprove the notion that they are academically inferior and may also experience imposter syndrome, self-doubt, fear, etc.
  • Enduring the cumulative effects of discrimination and exclusion may contribute to additional physical and psychological conditions.

Tips for Advising

Academic advisors can play a role in facilitating student success by employing humanized, holistic, and proactive advising practices. While students with historically minoritized racial identities are not monolithic, effective advising tips for an identity-conscious approach include and are not limited to:

Demonstrate your own care and commitment: Show you care and are committed to your students’ success: offer mentorship and multifaceted support, provide inquiry and support for life beyond academics, celebrate successes and offer guidance through obstacles.

Advise holistically: Recognize and support interconnectedness and intersectionality as issues and identities are rarely isolated; ensure that students are connected to support for academics, finances, personal circumstances, etc. 

Be an advocate: Check your assumptions and biases; do not doubt students’ talent, skills, and potential. Reinforce cultural capital and value students’ engagement. Make hidden rules clear; find out what students understand about institutional procedures and walk them through any challenging processes. Make the implicit explicit.

Invite Humanity: Be welcoming of students and relate in; offer space for identity conscious vs. identity evasive conversations; be authentic with your encouragement; be honest and supportive; avoid using language that is discouraging or limiting.

Be proactive: Create navigational capital; be proactive about reaching out to students who may need more support without targeting; make intentional efforts to connect students to opportunities and resources relevant for their individual identities, strengths, and interests.

Engage with colleagues: Use your network and learn together; connect with peers to talk through ways to support students; ask colleagues to help you check biases to ensure you are not trying to push a student away from opportunities, tough curriculums, etc. 

Self-Reflect: Examine your own identities, values, biases, assumptions, and privileges and how they relate to your engagement with students with historically minoritized racial identities. Pursue ongoing reflection, learning, and inquiry in pursuit of equity.