By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart

The Libous Room was filled to capacity on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, as students, faculty, and staff gathered for a Lunch and Learn with Dr. Melvin Whitehead, Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Binghamton University. Dr. Melvin’s lecture, “Deepening Racial Engagement Among White College Students,” explored Melvin’s doctoral research on how white college students construct their understandings about race and how those understandings connect to the marginalizing experiences of Black college students. 

Through a series of scenario-based vignettes, Dr. Whitehead led the group in a dialogue about the importance of being proactive to normalize conversations about race in and outside of the classroom. 

Dr. Whitehead initially intended to focus his Ph.D. on exploring the experiences of transgender community college students, but was moved to shift the focus of his research to whiteness and anti-blackness in higher education in response to the dramatic uptick in racial incidents on college campuses across the nation.

During his lecture, Dr. Whitehead presented two major questions addressed through his research. 

  1. How do white college students construct meaning about race and racism?
  2. How do white college students converse about race with white peers and family members?

“Remember, racial justice is communal, interactive, and rooted in relationship building,” Whitehead shared. “We need to normalize emotional responses.”  

Dozens of SUNY Broome’s faculty, staff, and students attended Dr. Melvin’s lecture, including President Hawkins. Photo Credit: Matt Ebbers

Dr. Melvin Whitehead:

  • Ph.D. University of Georgia
  • MS, University of Michigan
  • BS, Towson University