[Rackham] LEAD: Let's Talk About Racial Code Switching

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LEAD, Leading Equity And Diversity, is a series of conversations where attendees have the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of guests who lead and/or support DEI and Social Justice initiatives. This LEAD conversation will address how college campuses can work to create a more inclusive environment where those from marginalized communities can be their authentic selves. Many faculty, staff, and students of color describe the need to “code switch” (or “act white”) in order to thrive, or even survive, at primarily white institutions. But this code switching comes at a cost. Speakers will discuss their experiences, research on the topic, and offer recommendations for best practices.   

Access Real-Time Translation (CART) captioning services will be available.



Courtney L. McCluney, is an assistant professor of organizational behavior in the ILR School at Cornell University. Her research investigates marginalization or practices, norms, and processes that separate the ‘center’ of social institutions—where power and resources are concentrated—from the ‘margins’ where certain groups are relegated. Marginalization historically and systemically challenges marginalized groups’ access to resources, legitimacy, and power in organizations and society. Dr. McCluney completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in psychology (personality and social contexts) at the University of Michigan and B.A. in psychology and interpersonal/organizational communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. McCluney previously worked as a research associate at Catalyst, Inc. and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with New Sector Alliance. As a first-generation college graduate, Dr. McCluney’s work seeks to advance public scholarship with underserved communities.


Myles Durkee is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in educational psychology: applied developmental science from the University of Virginia. He also completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. Dr. Durkee is a psychologist who examines the dynamics of cultural invalidations, identity threats, and racial code switching to determine how these experiences influence important psychosocial outcomes (e.g., mental health and well-being, identity development, and academic achievement). Overall his research examines how people of color navigate racial contexts, modify their racial behavior to fit in certain contexts, and internalize messages about their cultural authenticity from individuals inside and outside of their racial group. 

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