Presentation Title

Moving Beyond Allyship and Toward Activism


The leadership and organizational behavior of most institutions of higher education is characterized as bureaucratic and hierarchical (Thomas, 2014), which leaves some students of color at a crossroads with distinguishing between their values and the values of the dominant majority to succeed in their educational journeys. Dealing with these types of academic and professional pressures can lead to negative psychological effects, like depression and anxiety, which have been found to be detrimental to individuals’ cultural identity and quality of life (Hoggard et al., 2015; Yip, 2018). To combat these issues, increasingly over recent years, White scholars and social justice activists, identified as "White Allies," have aligned themselves with students and faculty of color to bring awareness to racial injustice and other aspects of institutional oppression (Brown, 2015; Mizock & Page, 2016; Powell & Kelly, 2017).

Although White allyship across educational institutions has increased, individuals at every professional stage worry that by supporting or participating in activism they are making a political stance against the institution, which may lead to negative consequences (Higgins, 2017). Thus, it is imperative for White allies in positions of power to be active voices and create change in higher education. However, if White allyship is not followed by activism, White supremacy and hegemony is further perpetuated, despite White allies’ good intentions. This may lead students of color to question whether institutional allyship is authentic.

This roundtable discussion will present participants with an opportunity to discuss their experiences of advocacy and activism, including how one might embrace courage within educational institutions. Within a safe space, psychology professionals will be able to voice their perceptions of and experiences on the alignment of White allyship. Through collective dialogue, it is our hope that participants learn effective strategies for overcoming resistance in their educational spaces and promote change through activism.