The renovated website will include three core components: a scholarly essay (conceptual frameworks, research methods, and results & analysis), timeline (origin story), and network visualization (growing Token community). I am studying/working on the implementation of a creative, community narrative project that assists students of color in combating tokenism on predominantly white college and universities. I argue that by using artistic, qualitative research, and digital humanities methodologies it becomes possible to deterritorialize and defamiliarize predominantly white spaces, while empowering students of color through emotional social support. The primary sources I will be studying include the archival data preserved in Project: Token’s archive and scholarly databases: oral narrative interviews (both previous and continued) from 17 students of color at Davidson College, and photographs. The conceptual frameworks I rely on include 1) the impact of art as a mental health practice, 2) deterritorializing/defamiliarizing spaces through language, and 3) innovative, ethical community building through digital humanities.
Scholars including Jeo R. Feagin, in the article “The Continuing Significance of Racism Discrimination Against Students in White Colleges,” report an sustained feeling of alienation experienced by Black students, and students of color in other minority groups. The general assumption assumes tokenism impacts the experiences of students of color but do not address 1) the mental health resources (or lack of) available to students of color and 2) the accessibility or reliability of mental health tools for the various intersections of minority identifiers.
I am interested in continuing to make predominantly white spaces, rooted in colonial legacies, safer for the people of color. Colleges and universities harbor students of color for four years, yet may not be equipped with the necessary tools for that student’s healthy, and safe, racial development. As a black male, my racial learning has occurred through a series of physically and emotionally violent moments. Microaggressions manifest through subtle acts and language that cumulatively chip away at a student’s mental integrity. I cannot promise a cure to racial tensions, but can develop a tool for students of color to rely on for additional support. Others would be interested in a community platform that benefits the campuses most marginalized student groups.
For the next phase of Project: Token I will synthesize collected data into a digital design. Therefore, the project becomes viable in its expansion and will focus on curating participant stories into forms representative of their personalities and agency. The greatest challenges including 1) the intellectual and creative labor of synthesizing oral narrative interviews, 2) creating an evocative digital presence.