Decades of theory, research, and practice have singled out sense of belonging (in its many derivative forms) as a pivotal component of healthy development: psychologically, socially, culturally, academically. The human need for belonging, and therefore its essential nature, have been well established across multiple arenas. Despite growth in this field, answers to the barriers to belonging among marginalized groups and contexts remain especially elusive. For decades, this work was anchored primarily in dominant, whitestream lenses and contexts. Therefore, the authors attempt here to highlight the responsibilities of systems and individual actors to meaningfully adapt and intentionally make space for belonging for all. Within that we advocate for the inclusion and preservation of culture, identity, and voice, and reframe belonging as a fundamental human right. Moreover, the authors draw on insights and generate implications across multiple fields (education, psychology, sociology, counseling, cultural foundations, and community work). Considering belonging through a critical, equitable, culturally-sustaining perspective, while simultaneously identifying settings where more attention to barriers to belonging is needed, is a non-negotiable element of moving the work of positive human development forward.
Beverly Faircloth is associate professor of educational psychology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Laura M. Gonzalez is associate professor in the higher education program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Katherine Ramos is assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Introduction: Framing Sense of Belonging for Our Time
Beverly S. Faircloth, Laura M. Gonzalez, and Katherine Ramos
Chapter 1: The Right to Belong: A Critical Stance
Beverly S. Faircloth
Chapter 2: Centering Anti-Racism in Schools to Support Belonging for Black Students
Elan C. Hope, Chauncey D. Smith, Charity Brown Griffin, and Alexis S. Briggs
Chapter 3: Out and About: LGBTQ+ Students’ Journey to Belong
Nicholas Antonicci, Louis Killion, and R. Bradley Johnson
Chapter 4: Legal Status and Belonging: A Critical Humanist Perspective
Laura M. Gonzalez
Chapter 5: Developing a Statewide Teacher Learning Community
Holt Wilson, Lauren Baucom, Emily Hare, Paul Wonsavage,Arren Duggan, Jared Webb, Allison McCulloch, Michelle Stephan, Katherine Mawhinney, and Catherine Schwartz
Chapter 6: Living as "In-Betweener" in Life and Work
Chapter 7: Promoting a Sense of Belonging: Black Girls and College and Career Readiness
Pamela Harris, Kaitlyn Ingram, Marquita Hockaday, and Laura M. Gonzalez
Chapter 8: Allies, Advocates, & Agents of Change: Resisting Barriers to Belonging in Sixth Grade
Beverly S Faircloth, Kia Barrett, and Jill McClanahan
Chapter 9: Challenges and Strength-Based Strategies for Cultivating a Sense of Belonging in a Heritage Language Program
Tierney B. Hinman, Ye He, Shameeka Wilson, Adriana Paschal, and Jennifer Nelson
Chapter 10: Community Voices: Belonging Narratives of Youth Recently Arrived in the U.S.
Beverly S Faircloth, Amy Vetter, Melody Zoch, Christy Marhatta, Dominique McDaniel, Tierney F. Hinman, and Dawn Bagwell
Chapter 11: The Project for Critical Research, Pedagogy & Praxis: An Educational Pipeline Model for Social Justice Teacher Education in Times of Division and Authoritarianism
Benjamin “Benji” Chang, Shynar Baimaganbetova, Mel Hyeri Yang, Iris Man Wai Cheung, Catherine Marie Galang Pun, Benjamin Wai San Yip
Conclusion: Belonging: An Invitation to Action
Resisting Barriers to Belonging: Conceptual Critique and Critical Applications serves as a timely reminder that there is much more work to be done – as researchers, community members, and simply as fellow human beings – to establish belonging as a universal human right. At this time, many people do not feel a sense of belonging as a result of both historical and contemporary barriers. This book forges a path through provocative and thought-provoking ground, making clear that the dominant narratives around belonging and inclusion are not always the only voices, perspectives, and experiences that matter. A core message of Resisting Barriers to Belonging is that everyone has a role to play in empowering other people’s stories of belonging. The book is a call to action for us all to take urgent steps to discontinue and disrupt systems and policies that contribute towards the maintenance of harmful barriers to belonging. Resisting Barriers to Belonging is your official invitation to upset the status quo at every level to ensure that all people have equity in their space and place to belong. As the opening quote by Laura I. Rendón in the preface to the book puts it: “belonging is a basic, self- evident human right that constitutes the very foundation for our authentic existence as a part of the earth’s family”. This is a message that should echo through every community, school, workplace and family around the globe.