Collectors, Nightlights, and Allies, Oh My

White Mentors in the Academy


  • Marisela Martinez-Cola Utah State University


critical race theory, counternarrative, autoethnography, cross-racial mentoring


As more students of Color enter into Historically White Institutions (HWIs), the dearth of mentors of Color continues to be an issue leaving students to rely on White mentors within academia. Much of the literature regarding mentoring discusses its definitions and best practices. It does not, however, capture the experiences of students of Color and their perceptions of their White mentors. It also fails to challenge White mentors who other, tokenize, or fail to understand their mentees. Through autoethnography rooted in Critical Race Theory counternarratives, I identify, define, and discuss three roles White mentors play for students of Color. 

Author Biography

Marisela Martinez-Cola, Utah State University

Marisela Martinez-Cola joined the faculty at Utah State University in the Fall of 2018 after receiving her PhD from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The first in her family to attend college, she is also an alumnus of the University of Michigan, where she majored in African American Studies. She then earned a law degree at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She credits her varied educational experiences for contributing to her interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching. Her research largely focuses on the critical comparative study of race, class, and gender as it relates to culture, social movements, and comparative/historical sociology. Her current book project is entitled The Bricks Before Brown and is a comparative historical case study of the construction of race, class, and gender in Mexican American, Chinese American, and Native American school desegregation cases that came before the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.



How to Cite

Martinez-Cola, M. (2020). Collectors, Nightlights, and Allies, Oh My: White Mentors in the Academy. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 10(1), 61–82. Retrieved from



Creative Works & Self-Reflections