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African American Elitism in Academe: The New Good and Bad Hair Controversy


by Fred A. Bonner, II — December 05, 2007

Much like the good and bad hair controversy of yesterday, today I have experienced the same controversies being played out among African Americans in a somewhat different context. It is in the higher education arena that I have witnessed two very disquieting phenomena, both exacting a negative impact on African American faculty. I have noticed what appears to be an ever-widening chasm developing among African American faculty; namely, professional elitism based on academic pedigree and the pervasive “only room for one” mindset that at best quells and at worst kills efforts for collaboration, esprit de corps, and a positive sense of self-efficacy and esteem. This article attempts to untangle these good and bad hair divisions in an effort to improve the climate for faculty of color, particularly African American faculty. For higher education in general and African American faculty in particular, it will become increasingly important to excoriate inequality and injustices exacted from agents not only outside, but also internal to the African American higher education community.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: December 05, 2007
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14838, Date Accessed: 12/11/2017 6:32:44 AM

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About the Author
  • Fred Bonner, II
    Texas A&M University
    E-mail Author
    FRED A. BONNER, II, is an Associate Professor of higher education administration in the Educational Administration and Human Resource Development department at Texas A&M University—College Station. He received a B.A. degree in chemistry from the University of North Texas in 1991, an M.S.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University in 1994, and an Ed.D. in higher education administration and college teaching from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville in 1997. Bonner has been the recipient of the American Association for Higher Education Black Caucus Dissertation Award and the Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundation's Dissertation of the Year Award from the University of Arkansas College of Education. Bonner has published articles and book chapters on academically gifted African American male college students, teaching in the multicultural college classroom, diversity issues in student affairs, and success factors influencing the retention of students of color in higher education. He currently serves as an assistant editor for the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals Journal, and has completed three summers as a research fellow with the Yale University Psychology Department (PACE Center), focusing on issues that impact academically gifted African American male college students. Bonner is also completing a book that highlights the experiences of postsecondary gifted African American male undergraduates in predominantly White and Historically Black college contexts. Fred spent the 2005-2006 year as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the Office of the President at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
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