The Vermont Connection


In this article, I interrogate the ways in which perfectionism perpetuates white supremacy, racism, and anti-Blackness specifically for Black college students. Black students who are considered “high-achieving” often face immense pressure and challenges to be perfect, and this label can feel like a burden. The push to be constantly perfect has serious implications for Black students’ development and identity. I explore how perfectionism plays a role in these issues from a critical race theory (CRT) lens. I focus on Black students in honors programs/colleges and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors as these students grapple with a combination of high expectations and systemic racism, which can further compound the effects of perfectionism. A CRT perspective of perfectionism can inform how high-achieving Black students develop their identities and navigate these types of exclusive and white-dominant environments and guide recommendations for supporting these students.