Project Token | White Paper


A “White Paper” is an authoritative report that provides information about a problem, issue, project, or product. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) describes a White Paper as:

an opportunity to share any best practices and lessons learned from the project. Please be candid in describing the work undertaken and discuss any aspects of the project that might have been done differently.  The hope is that the White Paper will help inform the work of others in the field.

Because the NEH sets the standard for White Papers on Digital Humanities projects, I have drawn from their guidelines to generate the specifications below. My hope is that the White Paper will provide a valuable opportunity to reflect on the project management and accomplishments, providing lessons applicable to future endeavors.

I welcome your suggestions for improving the report specifications.

1. Project Description

Project: Token is a creative hub for combating racial tokenism on college campuses while empowering minority voices of color. The first core program of S.I.L.E.N.C.E, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering black voices through creative, community narrative projects, Project: Token has three interconnected parts: a digital humanities platform, a creative hub, and a literary component. The Project: Token website presented here, the most recent advancement of the digital humanities platform, attempts a creative, community narrative project that assists students of color in combating tokenism on predominantly white college and universities. The project asserts 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. The website will curate all of the project history (from the team members to community outreach to current moves) into an equally engaging and immersive storytelling experience for the audience. The website to-date has curated roughly 45% of the project history and samples foundational digital storytelling tactics.

The website contains Project: Token’s scholarly foundation within a growing literature review (last updated on 10 April 2020). Project: Token relies on the scholarship to retrospectively analyze the last three years of community outreach on Davidson College’s campus. The pursuit for legitimate scholarship (currently citing 5 sources) has not changed since the proposal phase. On the other hand, the vision for additional community outreach altered considerably due to COVID-19 complications. I originally planned to network with several departments and facilities on Davidson College’s campus, i.e. the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) or the Dean of Students Office, but had to temporarily omitted those relationships. I also needed to scale down the project history being curated onto the website and focus on quality design.

Without additional community engagement I did benefit from strengthening Project: Token’s scholarly framework and website ecosystem.

Project: Token has three target audiences

  • college students, faculty, and staff, ranging from young adults (ages 18-22) on the lower end, to more mature audiences (ages 22 and upwards).
  • digital humanities practitioners
  • the communities within and surrounding sites of tokenism.

Project: Token will raise awareness about the production and reproduction of tokenism in higher education and, by spotlighting minority voices of color, inform target audiences about how to identify, and combat, tokenistic environments.

2. Individual Roles & Responsibilities

As the sole Project Coordinator my primary tasks and responsibilities included developing and implementing a strategic plan for Project: Token’s next phase, designing and creating a work of digital scholarship that conveys research findings to users in a dynamic, innovative way, and synthesizing different positions and arguments into a literature review.

The tasks and responsibilities resulted in a complete renovation of the Project: Token website, using an increased proficiency in WordPress, including the ability to customize with plugins, widgets, and html code; a growing scholarly framework informed by legitimate sources; a baseline for the social media platform that will housing the project.

3. Project Goals & Objectives

The overarching goal (from months January 2020 to May 2020) was a retrospective analysis and synthesis of the past three years of project history, while building an internal network at Davidson College.

The specific, measurable objectives included completing an informative yet engaging Literature Review that defines tokenism, tokenism as racism, and curative storytelling; synthesizing and creating immersive storytelling pages for at least half (8.5 – 9).of the Original 17 participants onto the website.

4. Project Activities & Process

The chronology of the project’s development (since January 13th, 2020) is as follows:

  • February | Through continued consultation with Ms. Johnson, and further synthesis of Transforming the Ivory Tower, the project obtained a preliminary understanding of how higher education institutions discriminate against minorities, and sought to gather more sources for the literature review including “The White Space” by Elijah Anderson and “Art for Mental Health’s Sake” by Helen Spandler, et al.
  • March | The creation of extensive secondary source reports for Transforming the Ivory Tower, “Art for Mental Health’s Sake,” and “The White Space” challenged the website to adopt more evocative, immersive digital storytelling tools. Therefore the old website, built on the WordPress Organic Block Lite Theme, had to be renovated into the WordPress Organic StartUp theme. The new website design provided more tools, widgets, and aesthetics for synthesizing scholarship. The literature review found a new home.
  • April |The project continued the working literature review and synthesized “The Social Ecology of Tokenism in Higher Education” by Yolanda Flores Niemann, “The Healing Effects of Storytelling: On the Conditions of Curative Storytelling in the Context of Research and Counseling” by Gabriele Rosenthal, and “Racism in the Structure of Everyday Worlds: A Cultural-Psychological Perspective” by Phia S. Salter, et al. Alongside, the purchasing of Builder Widgets Pro provided 12 additional widgets for website design. The website ecosystem (how pages interact with each other) and the aesthetic qualities greatly enhanced.
  • May | The website houses the most recent, complete draft of the working literature review. The website has obtained a foundation design quality and standard and now slowly synthesizes the project history.

5. Accomplishments & Lessons Learned

The project did not obtain a full retrospective analysis and synthesis but did complete the working literature review. I did not successfully synthesize half of the Original 17 due to a focus on quality design through new widgets. The COVID-19 complication completely halted, or temporarily complicated, my internal networking at Davidson College, though I could have continued digitally to a lesser extent. I learned that networking requires flexibility, and building a strong foundation for website design will be more fruitful in the long-run than hastily synthesizing project history.

6. Works Cited

Niemann, Yolanda Flores. “The Social Ecology of Tokenism in Higher Education.” Peace Review, vol. 28, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 451–458. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10402659.2016.1237098.

Rosenthal, Gabriele. “The Healing Effects of Storytelling: On the Conditions of Curative Storytelling in the Context of Research and Counseling.” Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 9, no. 6, Dec. 2003, pp. 915–933, doi:10.1177/1077800403254888.

Salter, Phia S., et al. “Racism in the Structure of Everyday Worlds: A Cultural-Psychological Perspective.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 27, no. 3, June 2018, pp. 150–155, doi:10.1177/0963721417724239.

Secker, Jenny & Spandler, Helen & Hacking, Suzanne & Kent, Lyn & Shenton, Jo. (2007). Art for mental health’s sake. Mental health today (Brighton, England). 34-6.

Stockdill, Brett C., and Mary Yu Danico, editors. Transforming the Ivory Tower: Challenging Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in the Academy. University of Hawai’i Press, 2012. JSTOR, Accessed 3 May 2020.

8. Appendices

[the report contains no appendices]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *