Personal Troubles and Public Issues: A Sociological Imagination of Black Athletes’ Experiences at Predominantly White Institutions in the United States


The purpose of this paper is to provide a socio-historical examination of Black athletes’ experiences at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) and connect these experiences with the broader social issues facing Blacks in the United States (US). Historically, the prevalence of racism within the US has contributed to the oppression, discrimination, and limited upward mobility of Blacks. In the US, racist beliefs have been institutionalized formally through federal and state laws as well as informally through social practices and norms. Using Mills’ (1959) sociological imagination as a conceptual framework, the author provides a critical examination of the connection between the personal biographies of Black athletes at PWIs and the historical public issues facing Blacks in the US as documented in scholarly and relevant literatures. Understanding the connection between biographies and history allows for a more holistic understanding of the root causes of these personal troubles and public issues. Common themes in the literature that will be highlighted and addressed include experiences with racial discrimination/social isolation, academic neglect, economic deprivation, and limited leadership opportunities.

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N. Cooper, J. (2012). Personal Troubles and Public Issues: A Sociological Imagination of Black Athletes’ Experiences at Predominantly White Institutions in the United States. Sociology Mind, 2, 261-271. doi: 10.4236/sm.2012.23035.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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