Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Sycarah Fisher


Historically, research on racial microaggressions has focused on adult populations within clinical as well as work environments. The literature is just beginning to examine microaggressions within the K-12 education system and with younger populations. It is important to assess how racial microaggressions are impacting high school students given that research has indicated that this population is experiencing racial injustices. The perpetration of racial microaggressions is the basis for students’ discriminatory experiences within these institutions. This work has recently become even more necessary given that the high school student population is becoming increasingly racially diverse while our teaching population has remained mostly White.

The purpose of this study is to investigate how White educators’ White identity development translates to the racial microaggression commission in the classroom setting. This study took place across three public schools within the South United States. This study included five White educators and 25 of their non-White students. The educators were interviewed and a selection of their non-White students were surveyed. This data was then analyzed using Thematic Analysis (TA). TA was utilized to uncover where White educators were in their White identity development and to assess students’ experiences with racial microaggressions. This study explored White identity development using Helms’ (1990, 1995) White Identity Development model. Findings indicated that White educators were at various levels of their White identity development. The educators ranged from those who endorsed colorblind ideologies to those engaged in racial activism. The findings were structured into six overcharging themes: Adherence to Colorblind Attitudes, Initial Response to Emerging Awareness of Racism, Denigration of POC, Intellectual Understanding of Racism, Desire to Achieve a Nonracist Definition of Whiteness, Positive White Racial Identity. The student participants reported diverse experiences within the school setting. The results were organized into two overarching themes: Positive School Experiences and Negative School Experiences. Recommendations were offered for educator preparation programs, ongoing training for educations, as well as larger systemic alterations.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)