The Anti-Racism Collaborative, administered by the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), has awarded summer research grants to 27 University of Michigan (U-M) graduate students. The Rackham Graduate School and the Center for Racial Justice (CRJ) in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy are co-sponsoring the awards, which total $122,062.

The grants aim to support engagement in research projects focused on racial inequality, racial equity, and racial justice while advancing graduate student progress toward degree.

“We received exciting, outstanding proposals from students representing disciplines from across the U-M. The funded projects reflect the broad range of research that our graduate students are engaged in, focused on advancing anti-racist action,” says Tabbye Chavous, NCID director and LSA associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. “NCID is excited to work with this year’s grantees to foster connections and build a community of support as they aim to impact society through their scholarship. We are proud to support the training of graduate students, such as this year’s grantees, who are critical to an anti-racist academy.”

"Rackham is pleased to participate in this initiative to support the research of graduate students,” says Rackham Dean Mike Solomon. "Its growth speaks to the impact of scholarly work in racial justice and its importance to the educational goals of Rackham students."

“The Center for Racial Justice is beyond thrilled to partner with NCID and Rackham to support the latest generation of scholars dedicated to anti-racism and racial justice scholarship,” says Celeste Watkins-Hayes, director of the Center for Racial Justice and Ford School associate dean for academic affairs. “The breadth, depth, and interdisciplinarity of the proposed projects is inspiring, and I cannot wait to see these projects develop and evolve over the next year.”

The NCID, Rackham, and CRJ will host opportunities for the campus and broader communities to engage with the award recipients and learn more about their research during the 2022–2023 academic year, as well as provide ongoing professional development and support to the grantees.

2022 Projects

Dating Under the White Gaze: An Examination of Black Women's Online Dating Experiences
Jasmine Banks and Miranda Jones (PhD Students in Psychology)

In this project we aim to examine the racial-sexual discrimination that Black women face in online dating environments. We will assess how Black women conceptualize the stereotypes held about them by potential dating partners, the counternarratives they construct to combat these stereotypes, and how Black women navigate their own physical/emotional safety while dating online. We will conduct 20 semi-structured interviews with Black women between the ages of 18-30. We seek to provide more nuanced knowledge about online dating to inform the design of dating apps, discuss ways to combat racial-sexual discrimination across dating applications.

A YouTube Series on how the State Uses Discourse to Repress Social Movements
Amitai Ben-Abba (PhD Student in Comparative Literature)

I plan to produce a video essay series showing how settler-states manipulate progressive political discourse in order to repress social movements. Through a comparative survey of police and military strategists’ “After-Action Reviews” of state agencies’ responses to the 2020 George Floyd uprisings as well as French and Israeli state responses to anti-colonial insurgencies in Algeria and Palestine, I aim to research, understand, and reveal to a public audience this emerging form of counterinsurgency. I hope for this project to add both rigor andaccessibility to anti-racist analyses, better equipping activists against the repression of their vital struggles.

News Media, Public Opinion, and Black Women in Politics
Sydney Carr (PhD Student in Political Science and Public Policy)

Political science scholars have long posited that Black Americans and women face penalties in terms of how they are evaluated by the American public. Some researchers have advanced the idea that Black women political figures are doubly disadvantaged due to their race-gender identity. This study examines whether Black women political elites do indeed face a unique combination of disadvantages. In order to do so, I examine political attitudes and news coverage to identify the ways in which Americans’ beliefs about Black women political figures are distinctive relative to White women, White men, and Black men.

Ethnic Disparities in Cognition during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Snapshot of Metro-Detroit
Jasmine Cooper (PhD Student in Psychology)

Evidence indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted non-white ethnic minorities nation-wide and in the state of Michigan, which ranks third in the nation for COVID deaths. Despite being a small proportion of the Michigan population, ethnic minorities are overrepresented in COVID cases and deaths but little is known about how the pandemic has exacerbated chronic illness, including dementia. This research will investigate potential racial disparities in the cognitive impact of COVID, by studying Black, White, and Arab older adults in Metro Detroit to understand whether the pandemic has increased ADRD risk in Michigan’s most vulnerable populations.

Content and Form: The Black Press and Articulations of Blackness in Twenty-First Century Buenos Aires and São Paulo
Marisol Fila (PhD Student in Romance Languages and Literatures)

“Content and Form” explores how Black writers and intellectuals in the twenty-first century Blackpresses of Buenos Aires and São Paulo use digital and print media to navigate distinct articulations between diasporic and national Black identities in two Latin American cities that are rarely studied together. Designed around a multimodal and multilingual inquiry, discovery, and analysis across traditional text-based analytical exposition and digital storytelling, “Content and Form” explores how multimodality and technology can change the experience of scholarly research and invites the reader to interact with the project via a socially-engaged, anti-racist and transmedia approach. Drawing from collaborative projects created with Black thinkers from Latin America, this dissertation is a result of my trajectory of public-facing activities at the University of Michigan.

Intimate Negotiations: How Black/White Interracial Couples Co-Create Racial Meanings
Sidney Galan (PhD Student in Sociology)

Scholars have documented how interracial couples deploy strategies to navigate external stigmas attached to their unions, but they have largely overlooked how partners create shared racial meanings between themselves. This project uses in-depth interviews with black/white interracial couples to identify and explain how partners use three distinctive approaches to intimate racial negotiation—contestation, intellectualization, and suppression—to manage mismatches in their racial worldviews and co-constitute the meanings and significance of race and racism in their relationships. My findings suggest that interracial partnerships are neither inherently anti-racist projects, nor barometers of the malleability of racial boundaries, as popularperceptions of interracial romance often suggest.

An Anti-Colonial Phenomenology of Racialized Knowledge Systems, Epistemic Injustice, and Epistemic Resistance in Graduate Education
Yvonne Garcia (PhD Student in Higher Education)

This research creates a counter epistemic community for 4-6 graduate students from racially minoritized backgrounds who are resisting white dominant knowledge systems in their own research. We will co-create a convening to understand graduate student socialization experiences into white knowledge systems, how this effects their scholarship, scholarly identities, and sense of belonging. Using PAR, pláticas, and autoethnographic/ethnographic methods the preparation of and the convening serves as a site for my dissertation data. This research practically and theoretically can help reimagine graduate education as an epistemically just spaces that honors the multiplicity of knowledges of racially minoritized graduate students.

Washtenaw Health Plan-SOL (Soluciones y Oportunidades Latinx) Project
Jennifer Gonzalez-Hernandez (MPH Student in Health Behavior and Health Education)

Because of structural racism embedded into our national immigration policies, Latinx families are often in precarious economic and legal positions that can create crises related to healthcare, housing, food insecurity, education, etc. Latinx residents in Washtenaw County have a life expectancy that is 16 years lower than White residents. This proposal focuses on research to conduct formative and evaluation research on the creation of a coalition of Washtenaw County agencies to: (a) better coordinate and connect Latinx residents to existing resources, and (b) advocate at the local and state level for anti-racist policy changes and expanded resources.

Manifestations of Racial Neoliberalism through Experiences of Students of Color in Anti-Racism and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees at Historically White Institutions
Angie Kim (PhD Student in Higher Education)

This qualitative study aims to illuminate the experiences of students of color currently engaged in committees intended to support institutional-wide anti-racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in Historically White Institutions (HWI). Given the increased emphasis on the need for student representation on DEI committees, I utilize elements of Racialized Organizations, racial neoliberalism, and critical race institutional logics perspective as theoretical and analytical tools to examine the following research questions: (1) What arethe ways DEI committees may become both sites of institutional transformation and eproduction of neoliberalism and whiteness? (2) Do students’ racialized labor become co-opted in committees?

Black trans-led approaches to addressing structural vulnerability among Black trans communities
Wesley King (PhD Student in Health Behavior and Health Education)

Black transgender communities have an extensive history of community building, activism, and organizing in response to intersectional oppression. However, public health research has overlooked the racial equity expertise within transgender communities. This qualitative study draws on the concept of community cultural wealth to understand how Black transgender leaders address structural vulnerabilities within their communities and identify structural changes they think would most effectively promote Black transgender liberation and wellbeing. This study will be conducted in partnership with the Black Trans Fund, a Black transgender-led philanthropic organization, and have direct implications for their grantmaking agenda andanti-racism efforts within transgender communities.

Blossoming Together: Imagining New Relationships between Students of Color and Institutions through Digital Storytelling
Katherine Lebioda (PhD Student in Higher Education)

My research uses participatory methodologies to work with Students of Color as both advisors and participants in a digital storytelling project. Through multiple workshops, students create digital stories about their experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. The narratives are intended to inform the University’s next Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategic plan and improve the campus culture for Students of Color. Moreover, as an embodiment of transformational relationships between students and the institution, this project could serve as a model for wider student engagement in DEI plans and initiatives at the University of Michigan and/or at other institutions nationwide.

Social Media Activism and Trauma: How Activists Manage the Emotional Effects of Traumatic Media Content
Kristen Leer (PhD Student in Communication and Media)

Social media activism has increased drastically over the past decade. In spite of its laudatory goals, social media activism may exacerbate trauma by exposing activists to repeated visual and auditory reminders of the bigotry and violence their communities experience. When information encourages rumination about trauma, the stress of that rumination may deplete theresources people need to make a change, paradoxically working against activism. This proposal seeks funding for an in-depth interview study exploring how U.S. Black, Asian, and Latinx adults balance anti-racist activism on social media with vicarious trauma and rumination from mediated exposure to bigotry and violence.

Towards a “Quare” Battle Fatigue: Queer and Trans Students of Color’s Experiences of and Resistance to Queer & Racial Battle Fatigue
Taylor Lewis (PhD Student in Higher Education)

Higher education scholarship has failed to recognize QTSOC and how they negotiate their environment with various subordinate identities (Nicolazzo, 2016). In this research project, I introduce “Quare'' Battle Fatigue to examine the psycho-social and physiological effects of navigating higher education institutions deeply embedded in multiple and various forms of oppression. This research project illuminates the margins, seeking to identify the health, wellness, and safety resources QTSOC need to not just survive, but thrive. This project willalso examine how QTSOC disrupt practices of education violence with practices of Queer/Trans life-making to spark joy and create a sense of home.

Brown Comedy: Storytelling, Race, and Place with Las Locas of Chicago
Julianna Loera Wiggins (PhD Student in American Culture)

This project brings together the history of Latiné migration to the Midwest and the thriving comedy community in Chicago to explore how place-making, storytelling, and belonging takes occurs within the Latina stand-up comedy community. Utilizing frameworks such as Latina feminist testimonio and autohistoria-teoría, the Latinas who take part in my project are the theorists of their craft—shifting the narrative power from the scholar to the performer. I contribute to the existing scholarship on Latiné/x affect and utopic performance while touching on cultural subjectivities through performance. This project understands Latina stand-up comedy as a decolonial act in which political possibilities arise.

A Critical Approach to Examine the Racial and Science Identity Formation of Latinx Students
Danielle Maxwell (PhD Student in Chemistry)

The narrative that science is objective, value-free, acultural, and rooted within a system of meritocracy constrains the representation and advancement of non-majority groups in science. To understand how non-majority students learn science, we need to understand how they engage with science and how this influences their personal and science identities. This study aims to understand how Latinx students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions develop science identities and how racialized experiences influence this development. In this studywe use multiple theories of identity, a critical epistemological perspective, and qualitative research methods to build a conceptual framework and describe the experiences of our participants.

Black Critical Digital Literacies
Parker Miles (PhD Student in Educational Studies)

The proposed research is an after-school makerspace for Black youth that endeavors to ask: How do Black kids practice embodied critical digital interfaces in an after-school third/makerspace? Data will be collected via a composite of digital ethnographic methods and traditional qualitative methods that account for the mutually constituted nature of Black kids' online and offline selves.This project is antiracist in that it takes an asset-oriented approach to Black practices; the research also grows from a genealogy of Black Cyberfeminisms, invested in understanding the ways that digital technologies and discourses re-produce racism-- and disrupting this reproduction.

Healing our People through Empowerment (HOPE): Illuminating the Radical Imaginations of Immigrant Origin Youth
Stephanie Miller-Tejada (PhD Student in Psychology)

Anti-immigrant attitudes are rising globally. This has harmful impacts on immigrant-origin adolescents, who are undergoing a critical period of identity development in a hostile sociopolitical climate. Drawing on French et al.’s (2020) radical healing framework, I ask: How do immigrant-origin youth connect their ethnic-racial identities to their understandings of racism/critical consciousness?; and What are some ways immigrant-origin youth conceptualize radical hope? Twelve immigrant-origin youth will engage in a 6-week photovoice project andindividual interviews. Using youth participatory action research methods, I will co-create knowledge with the youth as co-researchers and amplify their imaginations of community care and healing.

Do they understand me? The role of race-based empathy in graduate students of color’s mentorship relationships with faculty advisors and their academic experience
Ariana Munoz-Salgado (PhD Student in Psychology)

In two experimental studies, I will test whether graduate students of color perceive less race-based empathy (i.e., understanding of students of color’s unique problems and needs) from a white faculty advisor (vs. advisor of color), and test whether this discrepancy is exacerbated in graduate programs with low faculty racial diversity. I will also examine theconsequences of perceiving lower vs. higher race-based empathy from a faculty advisor, in terms of graduate students’ mentorship experience, academic outcomes and wellbeing. These studies will be included in my dissertation and will strengthen my research program on developing anti-racist interventions to diversify the academic pipeline.

Microaggressions, belonging, and gender: Implications for imposter phenomenon development among Black undergraduates
Tiani Perkins (PhD Student in Psychology)

Black undergraduates attending predominantly White institutions (PWIs) experience racial discrimination that signal that racial minorities do not belong and evoke feelings of “otherness.” Perceptions of unbelonging may prompt the development of the imposter phenomenon, or feelings of intellectual fraudulence. 213 Black undergraduate students reported their experiences of racial microaggressions, sense of belonging, and imposter phenomenon beliefs during two surveys at the beginning and end of the 2020-2021 academic year.  Analyses revealed gender moderated the mediating relationship between belonging, racial microaggressions and imposter phenomenon development. Findings highlight the intersectional implications of imposter phenomenon development for the unique experiences of Black undergraduates.

Cultivating Students’ Critical Consciousness and Ethnic-Racial Identity: Ethnic Studies and Adolescent Development
Andy Pinedo and Gaby Kubi (PhD Students in Education and Psychology)

This project assesses the efficacy of an ethnic studies curriculum for fostering critical consciousness and ethnic-racial identity and whether these two processes positively shape academic and civic outcomes for Latinx students. Ethnic studies is an educational model that centers the perspectives of marginalized ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Research suggests that it benefits racially marginalized students, but little is known about the mediating mechanisms that connect ethnic studies to desired outcomes. Therefore, this study aims to extend our understanding of how ethnic studies–an inherently anti-racist pedagogy–supports racially marginalized students in resisting racism.

When They Don't See Us: Afrodescendent Artistic Social Action in Spain
Leela Riesz (PhD Student in Sociocultural Anthropology)

My dissertation research investigates the conditions that render Blackness both present and absent in the Spanish context. It explores afrodescendiente (Afrodescendent) artists/activists’ efforts to both navigate the persistent conflation of Blackness with foreignness and re-write narratives of Blackness. Focusing on arts-based activism in Madrid and Barcelona, I will investigate the development of anti-racism initiatives and Black-Spanish formations in specific sites including theater, festivals, exhibits, public demonstrations, and community centers.This ethnographic study examines not only the imbrication of race and performance, but also what is at stake in different kinds of identity claims and ways of locating Blackness in Spain.

Where are all the Black People?: An Inquisition of Black Dance Across the African Diaspora
Njeri Rutherford (MFA Student in Dance)

My current research and overall understanding of dance lay at the intersection of my African descendance, the Black American experience, and the Western techniques that have been so ingrained in my dance training. Through this research I seek to produce methods that dismantle and decenter Eurocentric genres of dance, better understand the experience of Black dancers in America, and how Black dance influences concert dance overall.

The color of environmental racism: environmental and occupational injustices in Michigan stemming from historical redlining
Abas Shkembi (MS Student in Environmental Health Sciences)

Research on environmental justice often overlooks the role of structural racism in contributing toenvironmental disparities. One form of institutional racism, historical redlining, has been understudied with respect to environmental racism, particularly in Michigan. Furthermore, its contribution to occupational racism has remained entirely unstudied. This project will illuminate the environmental and occupational injustices stemming from historical redlining in Michigan to further recognize institutional racism as a factor in environmental and occupational health disparities. An interactive map/website will be constructed to disseminate the findings to impacted Michigan communities, as well as policymakers seeking to dismantle the lasting, racist legacy of redlining.

Hashtag Vigilantes: The Technological Affordances of Citizen Policing and White Nationalism
Hanah Stiverson (PhD Student in American Culture)

This project considers the vigilante app, Citizen, as a form of techno-fascism, one that supports and extends white nationalism by making racist digital tools readily available to an increasingly radicalized public. Citizen, has been used in public manhunts, the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, and in many instances of racial violence. As apps like Citizen are ephemeral by nature, this project provides an archive of a tool that supports and grows racist, misogynistic, and fascist movements. Through user interviews and content analysis, this project traces an example of racist digital vigilantism, and the harm it creates in local communities.

A Hindering Aid? Unpacking the Blackbox of Perspectives about the US Virtual Border Wall
Louisa Williams (PhD Student in Information Science)

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website is a government platform designed to provide guidance through the immigration process. serves as the virtual ‘hub’ for USCIS users navigating the immigration process by offering tools, virtual assistance, status information, and other resources. This project investigates immigration experiences from the perspectives of MyUSCIS users by interviewing members of the African diaspora in the Detroit/Michigan area and analyzing consistencies in their experiences. This work will help inform the support practices of community organizations that aid these users, and the design of user-centered immigration tools for people around the world.