Black Culture Centers: A Review of Pertinent Literature

Kimberly Sanders

Abstract


Black culture centers provide important university support and services, such as advising, career development, mentoring, and leadership skill building. This article examines the existing literature related to this vital campus resource and identifies existing gaps for further exploration. A review of relevant literature indicates that though Black culture centers (BCCs) have existed at traditionally White institutions for over forty years, there have been relatively few empirical investigations into their roles, functions, and perceptions and even fewer studies examining culture centers generally. In light of declining financial resources and demands that directors demonstrate that BCCs are helping to create positive student outcomes, a common theme within the discourse surrounding BCCs involves validating their existence. Opponents often downplay the contributions of BCCs, arguing that they foster self-segregation and prevent African American students from integrating with the broader campus community. They claim that the roles of BCC are too narrow in that they are solely for African American students and merely serve a social mission. These widely held misconceptions pose a challenge to BCCs and ultimately present a threat to their existence. It is imperative that BCC researchers move beyond the anecdotal and develop more empirical evidence of the necessity of these race-specific culture centers.


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