The Anti-Racism Collaborative, administered by the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), has awarded 21 summer research grants, totalling more than $100,000, to individuals and teams comprised of University of Michigan (U-M) graduate students.

“Graduate students make important contributions toward the advancement of innovative research and anti-racist principles,” says Elizabeth R. Cole, NCID director and University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies. “It’s critically important to provide resources that support this current generation of emerging anti-racism scholars.”

Along with the NCID, the student focused grant initiative is co-sponspored by the Rackham Graduate School and the Center for Racial Justice (CRJ) in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and aims to support research projects focused on racial inequality, racial equity, and racial justice while advancing graduate student progress toward degree. Additionally, the program provides ongoing professional development and support to the grantees.

"I am continually inspired by the innovation and insight that graduate students bring to pressing issues through their research and scholarship,” says Rackham Dean Mike Solomon. “And I am grateful that this ongoing partnership provides them an opportunity to pursue critical inquiry through the lens of racial justice."

Grant recipients include master's and doctoral students from a wide range of fields and disciplines, such as information science, women’s and gender studies, environmental justice, music theory, and education.

"The Center for Racial Justice is excited for our continued partnership with NCID and Rackham on this important initiative,” says Celeste Watkins-Hayes, CRJ Founding Director and pending Board of Regents’ approval, the next Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “The brilliance and ingenuity of our grantees cannot be overstated, and we are honored to support their development as scholars committed to anti-racism and racial equity."

The NCID, Rackham, and CRJ will host opportunities for the campus and broader communities to engage with award recipients and learn more about their research during the 2023–2024 academic year.

2023 Projects

‘Estamos bien:’ Interrogating the colonial demands for organizational resilience in federal grant participation at Puerto Rican Hispanic-Serving Institutions
Cassandra Arroyo (PhD Student in Higher Education)

This mixed methods study interrogates the ways in which colonial and racial violence are embedded in racialized federal funding programs that are positioned as meritocratic competitions and how this dictates the allocation of resources. This study contextualizes these conditions within Puerto Rico, which operates as an unincorporated territory of the United States: “belonging to, but not part of.” Although all nonprofit institutions in Puerto Rico qualify for Title V federal funding designed to support Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), it is unclear the extent to which these resources are accessed by or improve the institutional capacity of Puerto Rican colleges and universities.


“We’ve Got to Win This War:” Highlighting The Music of Four Black American Women
Lydia Bangura (PhD Student in Music Theory)

The music of Black Americans has historically been and continues to be excluded from syllabi, concert programs, and music research. Music that is both gendered and racialized (i.e. the music of Black women) continues to suffer from further erasure in music research. Therefore, in order to counter the racist and misogynistic musical histories that suppress Black women’s musical legacies, this project seeks to explore the manuscripts, pedagogical materials, and biographical information of four lesser-known Black women musicians. The research findings will be presented in an accessible podcast series, to encourage the inclusion of these women in the music classroom.


Strategies for Radical Healing: Examining Family Social Support as a Protective Factor for Adolescent Police Contact
Deaweh Benson (PhD Student in Developmental Psychology)

Adolescent police contact is associated with adverse mental and physical health outcomes. Due to systemic racism in policing, Black adolescents disproportionately experience police contact. Despite documented harmful outcomes, adolescent police contact persists throughout the American context. Research on protective factors that can ameliorate the link between police contact and poor health is necessary. The proposed study will adopt theoretical frameworks from biopsychosocial models of racism and radical healing to investigate whether family social support buffers police contact among Black adolescents (n= 1,069) sampled in the Future of Families Child and Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a birth-cohort study of mostly low-income families.


Black Creatives in the Digital Platform Economy
Erykah Benson (PhD Student in Sociology)

Structural racism has impacted Black businesses and communities, hindering economic mobility and racial justice. Though platforms like Etsy support small-scale and Black entrepreneurs through diversity initiatives, platform workers still face economic challenges and lack benefits. These findings raise larger questions about the role that Black entrepreneurship plays in addressing the structural failures of racism. Using in-depth interviews and focus groups, this project asks: (1) What challenges and benefits do Black creative entrepreneurs encounter when using platforms? (2) How do these experiences shape Black creative entrepreneurs' identity in relation to structural racism in the United States?


Brokering New York City: The Sociotechnical Production of Geographies of Chinese Alienness
Yuchen Chen (PhD Student in Communication and Media)

My dissertation contributes an account of the housing crisis of affordability and gentrification in New York City in relation to technologically mediated housing access for Chinese alien expatriates. My multi-sited ethnography unveils that Chinese alien expatriates’ economic privilege and racial and citizenship exclusions have become encoded into the practices and designs of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) harnessed by global brokerages and financial platform companies. I build on the theorization of “alienness”, which foregrounds both the immigration/non-citizenship disadvantages and racial/ethnic differences. It lends an intersectional lens to critique the racialization and exclusion enabled by ICTs in the context of housing.


Feeling Left Out of School: Epistemic Exclusion’s Affective Impact on Early-Career Scholars
Eden Harrison (PhD Student in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies)

Epistemic exclusion, a term that describes the scholarly devaluation of faculty of color, involves feeling excluded, unsupported, invisible, and disrespected (Settles et al., 2020a; Settles et al., 2020b). Little is known about what epistemic exclusion looks like for graduate students or the specific feelings that epistemic exclusion elicits for them. I plan to conduct 6 focus groups investigating the connection between affect (e.g., feelings of devaluation, isolation) and epistemic exclusion in Black graduate students to determine: 1) how epistemic exclusion manifests for Black graduate students and 2) how affect plays a role in Black graduate students’ experiences of epistemic exclusion.


Unearthing a Lost Score: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's The Atonement Op. 53
Bryan Ijames (DMA Student in Conducting)

In the past decade, academic research on the choral compositions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) composers has increased to equalize representation and highlight diversity in classical music. Though more specifically, in the subcategory of choral-orchestral music, a minuscule amount of published compositions (cantatas, passion, or oratorio) exist. As an African-American conductor and scholar, I am passionate about leading a concerted effort for the equity and inclusion of BIPOC composers on professional, community, and academic concert stages. I request that the National Center for Institutional Diversity Anti-Racism Graduate Research Grant support my continued research goals of equalizing BIPOC representation in the choral canon by granting me the entire $5000 grant to complete Unearthing a Lost Score: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s, The Atonement Phase III: Creation of The Atonement Chamber-Orchestra Edition, and Phase IV: Completion of The Atonement Conductor’s Companion.


The Nature of Peer Diversity Interactions in STEM: How Cross-Racial/Ethnic Interaction Affects Students’ Perceptions of Climate
Juhee (Judy) Kim and Brandy Jones (PhD Students in Higher Education)

The racial imbalance within STEM graduate programs positions Black, Latinx, and Native American students as severely underrepresented and White and Asian students as overrepresented. Previous research has explored the hardships of underrepresented students in STEM, particularly Black students, who have negative peer experiences. Yet, there has been a lack of focus on how peer interaction takes place across diverse racial groups. Thus, this research aims to examine how underrepresented and overrepresented doctoral students experience peer interactions in engineering programs and seeks to develop implications relevant to refining diversity initiatives to produce more inclusive climates in STEM and improve student experiences.


Emancipating Community Futures: Co-Designing Children’s Books Across Generations in Eastside Detroit
Alex Lu (PhD Student in Information Science)

This proposal describes a children’s book speculative co-design project with seniors and youths from Detroit Eastside. It aims to create a space for community members to collectively envision alternative socio-technical infrastructures of community safety and resilience that are excluded by coercive surveillance and control. This project makes theoretical contributions in disrupting the reductive racialized logic and racialization embedded in large-scale surveillance infrastructures, methodological contributions in conceptualizing children’s book speculative co-design as a novel community-based participatory research approach with an anti-racist focus, and practical contribution in engaging with Detroit residents to develop digital skills and form new relations for desired futures.


Community Ownership of Molokai Ranch in Hawaii: Implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for an Indigenous Landback Initiative
Sierra Mathias, Emma Fagan, and Catherine Mae Seguin (MS Students in Environment & Sustainability); Jack Baylis (MS Student in Geospatial Data Science); Satara Fountain (MS Student in Environmental Justice and Ecosystem Management and Conservation); and Georgina Johnston (MS Student in Environmental Justice)

Moloka'i, HI is considered the “most Hawaiian” island due to its activist history and predominantly Indigenous population. Moloka'i Ranch comprises 30% of the island and has been historically used for unethical development, but Sust’āinable Moloka'i and the Moloka'i community are organizing to buy back the $260 million ranch. Through a series of Delphi studies, we aim to document the unbroken tradition of human rights on Moloka'i, the public health benefits of Indigenous ownership, and map the activist history of the island through social research methods that support the Land Back movement and rematriation of Moloka'i.


Developing and Designing the ‘Umeke ‘Ai Center: An Indigenous Sust’āinability and Resiliency Hub
Taylor Kaili McKenzie (MS Student in Environmental Justice and Geospatial Data Sciences)

My research addresses the historic influence of racism and colonialism on the Hawaiian islands by supporting a Native Hawaiian land sovereignty organization on the island of Molokai. A systemic lack of funding has created tremendous inequities on the islands that primarily hurts Indigenous peoples and communities with a history of forced migration and labor, creating disparities in access to food, health, and housing. To address these needs where colonial structures have not, nonprofit organizations led by Native Hawaiians have organized food banks, education initiatives, and agriculture initiatives. My research will support one such organization’s work by planning a Resiliency Hub, providing further community-based resources.


Structural Determinants of Black Youth Mental Health: Examining the Role of Structural Racism
Aaron Neal (PhD Student in Clinical Psychology)

In this project, we partner with Black youth using community based participatory research to examine the racist institutions that are determinants of Black youths’ mental health. Further, this project investigates how these institutions work together to create structural racism, and determines to what extent structural racism contributes to Black youths’ experiences with depression. This project follows Jones’ (2018) anti-racism conceptual framework by naming racism, describing how racism is acting across contexts impacting Black youth, and then utilizing those findings to strategically intervene with effective policy and intervention.


Black and Latina Girls’ Early Pubertal Transition and Gendered Racial Identity Development
Joonyoung Park (PhD Student in Developmental Psychology)

Black and Latina girls are the earliest in their age cohort to experience pubertal transition; Black girls are more vulnerable to ethnic-racial discrimination due to their more mature-looking bodies. Researchers have identified that parents’ healthy ethnic-racial socialization could mitigate the adverse effects of ethnic-racial discrimination and yield better youth well-being. However, ethnic-racial socialization in conjunction with pubertal socialization and how it relates to historically marginalized girls’ developmental outcomes are not well understood. This dissertation aims to examine how mothers can support Black and Latina girls during their early pubertal transition that yields positive gendered racial identity and adjustments.


Archival Repatriation: Radio Haiti Archive Case Study
Sony Prosper (PhD Student in Information)

This proposed research project will examine how three different groups view the repatriation and return of the Radio Haiti Archive. To understand how archivists and information professionals  who worked on the archive; members of the diaspora affiliated with or who have worked with Radio Haiti, including the archive donor, Michelle Montas; and archivists, cultural keepers, and information professionals in Haiti view return, this proposed research project asks: how should the archive at Duke be returned and repatriated to Haiti? What role does the Haitian diaspora play? What are the barriers and obstacles to repatriating and returning the Radio Haiti archive?


Black Women’s Perinatal Care Strategies in Rural North Carolina Maternity Care Deserts
Alexus Roane (PhD Student in Sociology)

For my dissertation prospectus research project, I will be investigating the extent to which race, class, and other social factors influence perinatal care strategies and health outcomes among pregnant and postpartum Black women living in North Carolina (NC) rural maternity care deserts and one non-maternity care desert (MCDs). My dissertation prospectus will also explore the extent to which social factors lead Black women to seek out alternative paths of care within rural MCD counties (Baldwin County, New Howell County, and Archdale County) relative to a non-MCD county (Sunset County).


Remediation and Reparation: Dallas Black Clergy for Safety, Equity, and Justice
Naajia Shakir (MS Student in Environmental Justice); Tyler LaBerge, Latia Leonard, Danielle Moore, and Tre’Nard Morgan (MS Students in Environment & Sustainaility)

This project seeks to address and undo the harm caused by a historical legacy of extraction and environmental racism in Dallas, TX, alongside our partner organization, Faith in Texas. Decades of disinvestment in Black and low-income neighborhoods in the region has led to second class citizen treatment in the social, political, and healthcare fields. Through conducting Community-Based Participatory Research, our goal is to clarify the urgent environmental needs of marginalized residents within the Dallas community. This research will be used to craft community-based, people-led interventions leading to long-term life-affirming impact on quality of life and future generations.


Experiences of Sexual Harassment among Black Queer Women in the Workplace
Kelsie Thorne (PhD Student in Psychology)

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, researchers, policymakers, educators, and practitioners must mitigate continued harm for the most vulnerable groups of women. The majority of literature on sexual harassment is overly-representative of the experiences of heterosexual, cisgender, and white women, despite evidence that queer women of color are at higher risk for sexual harassment due to their multiple marginalized identities. To address this gap, I will conduct qualitative interviews with Black queer women in order to understand their experiences of sexual harassment. Further, utilizing an intersectional framework, I investigate if Black queer women are subjected to a distinct form of sexual harassment due to their overlapping race, gender, and sexual identities.


Achieving Anti-Racist, Anti-Stigmatizing Care within Primary Care Settings: An Exploration of Barriers and Facilitators of Access and Engagement in Health Promotion Services for Black Patients
Cassandra Turner (PhD Student in Health Infrastructures/Learning Systems)

Obesity and related conditions disproportionately affect racialized and marginalized individuals. Racism and stigma within health systems and broader society exacerbates these inequities. Removing barriers to access and engagement in health promotion, obesity care will be imperative for eradicating these health inequities. This project utilizes a mixed methods approach to quantitatively analyze variation in referrals to and completion of obesity care services and qualitatively explore anti-racist, anti-stigmatizing approaches of engaging Black patients in care. This work aligns with my existing research in diabetes prevention/management and could provide insights for broader systemic change to transform health promotion within primary care.


Angry White Parents: How Race and Emotions Mobilize Local School Board Politics
Zoe Walker (PhD Student in Political Science)

Efforts to limit curricula involving the history of race and racism in the US are rising, with many states introducing and even passing blanket bans against teaching anything that may be labeled "Critical Race Theory" in public schools. School board meetings around the country have devolved into shouting matches between parents and administrators about what children are learning. The overwhelming majority of these school board meeting disruptors are White. What explains Whites’ outrage against race-related education in schools? In this paper, we theorize that attention to teaching about Whites privilege in schools induces anger in Whites and leads to their increased participation in school board politics.


A Seat at the Table: Black Girls Co-Designing a STEM Experience
Michole Washington (PhD Student in Educational Studies)

By empowering Black girls to become game designers, the study seeks to challenge the notion that Black girls are merely consumers of educational STEM activities designed for them, which can reinforce harmful stereotypes and perpetuate systemic racism. The study will analyze how Black girls redesign a STEM-based game and how it impacts their racial and STEM identities, highlighting the complex ways in which Black girls’ race and STEM experiences intersect. The research will reveal the opportunities and challenges of using critical game design for STEM education, which can help to address the inequities that Black girls face in STEM.


The Measures of Effective Teaching Project
Jianjun (Larry) Zhu (MA Student in Educational Studies)

As the prevalence of teacher observations has risen over the past decade, so too has evidence of their potential bias against teachers of color. Secondary analysis of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) data have found that otherwise comparably instructionally effective Black and white women teachers receive different ratings for their questioning and discussion practices. We transcribe a subset of video-recorded lessons from the MET data, coding for the frequency and quality of these specific practices, to better understand the sources of potential bias and further document the subtle but significant role teacher evaluation plays in perpetuating white supremacy.