A Critical Autoethnography of a Black Woman’s Doctoral Experience During BLM


  • Christina S. Morton University of Michigan




critical autoethnography, critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, higher education, teaching


In this critical autoethnography, I examine my lived experiences as a Black woman doctoral student during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Further, as I recount my academic journey in the wake of assaults to Black life and resulting Black resistance, I discuss the pedagogical interventions of Black women faculty members that made me feel as if my life and work mattered in their classrooms. I revisit spoken word poems and class assignments written between 2015 and 2017 along with news articles documenting national events occurring at the time as relevant texts to help me explore and understand my experiences. I utilize Critical Race Theory as an analytic lens, focusing on the following tenets: persistence of racism, critique of color-evasiveness, and counterstorytelling. I conclude with implications regarding how introducing graduate students to critical theory and methodologies can equip them with the tools to empirically explore and articulate their lived realities. Moreover, I discuss how such explorations can be validating and healing as students navigate particularly challenging academic and sociohistorical contexts. Additionally, I describe how providing students with creative outlets to express themselves in coursework can help them process their experiences and produce material that is humanizing, liberating, and life-giving.