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Identity Taxation: Challenging the Consumption of My Emotional Labor

Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division Mid-Level New Professional Senior Level
Stephanie Hernandez Rivera Jonathan A. McElderry

Practitioners working within identity-focused centers are often called upon to address the needs of students in the broader campus community, even if their opinions and insights are not always valued. This can be particularly challenging for those who share the marginalized identities of their students. This session will be beneficial for practitioners who have experienced identity taxation, by being expected to put their feelings, emotions, and insights up for the consumption of those in higher positions, in order to be validated in the institutional culture.

Within the last three years, college campuses have seen a surge in student activism in the midst of the rising tension over hostile racial climates. As practitioners who previously worked in cultural centers at the University of Missouri, we understand the level of conflict and tension this can create for individuals in these roles. Student affairs staff who work in identity-based centers are often asked to be everything to everyone: to run our centers while simultaneously putting our experience and pain up for the consumption of the broader campus, and in this way be"validated" by other campus administrators. This practice and the environments that support it can be exhausting and exploitive. To be effective in our positions, we need tools to navigate this identity taxation and susequent racial battle fatigue.

To explore this further, we decided to conduct a duoethnographic research based on our experiences working in identity centers during times of campus unrest. The implications of this research are valuable to individuals at all levels of institutional settings; however, this session will focus on the individuals who serve students through identity-based centers. We believe it is important for practitioners doing this work to have the space to address the dynamics we often face.

Learning Outcomes

By participating in this session, attendees will:

  • gain insights based on the experiences of the presenters who worked in cultural-based centers;
  • reflect on their own experiences with emotional labor and identity taxation;
  • consider the ways reflection can allow us to reclaim agency in our roles and the tools we can utilize in minimizing additional forms of labor upon us; and
  • cultivate a network of support and encouragement from others with shared identities and similar experiences.
Members: $99 Other: $149
Course Length
60 minutes
Course Type
On Demand

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