[Colloquium] "Mission Accomplished?" Racial Identity, Languageing Socialization, and the Elite Public Research

How do higher education institutions linguistically construct Blackness, and how do Black undergraduate students orient to this constructed Black imaginary on campus? Or, put another way, how are Black students socialized into what it means, sounds, and looks like to embody their Blackness in their local university? Most of the work related to Black linguistic practices in education has been conducted in the K-12 context, and little investigation has been done on Black language within public higher education (cf. Charity Hudley et al. 2022). Given the elimination of affirmative action in California with the voter approval of Proposition 209 over a generation ago, Black students in particular remain systemically excluded from California public higher education, and especially in the University of California (UC). As UC campuses gain Minority Serving Institution (MSI) status, more research is needed to understand how and whether these Historically White Institutions (HWIs) are actually serving Black students. To address this question, I use autoethnography in conjunction with ethnographic observation and interviews with Black students and campus leaders at UC Santa Barbara, the first research-intensive UC campus to gain MSI status. I locate the university as a key site of Black social and racial identity construction and take a discourse-analytic approach that informs my recommendations for potential structural reform. This work expands the theories and models of racial and identity development (Stevenson 1995) and higher education socialization (Weidman 2020) by focusing on the underexamined but crucial role of language socialization (Duranti et al. 2014) within the formative context of undergraduate education, and highlighting factors such as institutional discourses, campus student body composition, linguistic variation, and Black students’ prior proximity to Black communities. In this way, I seek to expand raciolinguistic (Alim et al. 2016; Rosa & Flores 2017) insights in higher education.