When White Dwarfs Burn Our Color: Whiteness, Emotionality, and the Will to Thrive in Higher Education

Cheryl E. Matias, Falynn A. Thompson, LeAnna T. Luney


Though the academy is a space where education, exploration, and research reside, it is also a space of historical exclusion, ostracism, and oppression for diverse students, staff, and faculty. Particularly, with respect to the ever-present dynamics of whiteness via white supremacy, students, staff, and faculty of color are racially microaggressed and racially stonewalled to a point where they experience extreme racial battle fatigue. This theoretical and reflective paper draws from critical whiteness studies and critical race theory’s counterstorytelling to reveal the emotionalities of whiteness, specifically, to investigate how racialized emotions burn out the lives of people of color on campus, much like how white dwarfs are degenerate masses themselves. And, how by leaving them intact, universities will never achieve their proclaimed missions for diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Whiteness, emotionality, Critical race theory, Critical whiteness studies, higher education, counterstory, racial microaggression

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