Report Update: Barriers to Authenticity for BIPOC Academic Librarians (February 2022)

This update offers more qualitative data offered by respondents to my ongoing survey on deauthenticity – please participate if this topic resonates with you; and you can review earlier data here.

For review, deauthentication is “a cognitive process that People of Color (PoC) traverse to prepare for or navigate predominantly White workplace environments, resulting in decisions that hide or reduce aspects of

  1. the influence of their ethnic, racial, or cultural identity,  and 
  2. the presentation of their natural personality, language, physical and mental self-images/representations, interests, relationships, values, traditions, and more,

to avoid macro- or microaggressions, shaming, incivility, punishment or retaliation, and which results in barriers to sharing their whole selves with their colleagues and/or clients.” (Kendrick 2018)

The following data are responses to the one of the survey’s final questions,“What do you believe may happen at your workplace or in your library career if you do not engage in deauthentication?”

  • :”That my full self will not be accepted. I feel like I don’t have much in common with my colleagues. So opening up more will make me feel and be more isolated.”
  • “Increased microagressions that would occur if I, for instance, wore a hair wrap would add to my own tension at work and make me a worse candidate for promotion and opportunities.”
  • “I fear that I may be dismissed or not given the same option for advancement. I fear that I won’t be taken seriously.”
  • “The white folk would be horrified beyond what they already are by the “troubling vision” (Nicole Fleetwood) of my mere presence on the campus and in the library. I am in a position previously held by what one long-time employee terms as (two) “racist white women”, who worked here for many years until retirement. I would likely be targeted for some form of sabotage in order to get rid of me and return to the status quo maintained and upheld by the two aforementioned ‘Racist white women.'”
  • “I have at times in my career been a more authentic version of myself more consistently at work. It resulted in extreme feelings of isolation from my direct colleagues which eventually turned into overt hostility.”
  • “I have been lucky to have worked in very liberal institutions with fairly open people. most of what i did was self imposed to “fit in” but i also recognize that that culture influenced my behavior even without the danger of getting attacked. i do know however that there is an invisible line that even liberals do not allow. and as a poc i won’t know if i am there until someone informs me and I’m 100% sure it’ll be both undeserved and unexpected.”
  • “I would be in a leadership/administration,”
  • “I will feel free.”

These data highlight additional Enabling Systems and also reveal the kinds of abuse and/or neglect this group are subjected to during their low-morale experiences, including:

  • Racism
  • Whiteness
  • White Supremacy
  • Promotion and Tenure
  • System abuse
  • Emotional abuse

Read more about the general and *additional* Enabling Systems that racial and ethnic minorities face in their library workplaces in my published study (done with Ione T. Damasco, University of Dayton).

Works Cited

Kendrick, K.D. (2018, Feb. 5). Considering: Deauthenticity in the workplace. Retrieved from


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