Engendering #BlackGirlJoy

How to Cultivate Empowered Identities and Educational Persistence in Struggling Schools

by Monique Lane (Author)
©2021 Textbook XVI, 208 Pages
Series: Urban Girls, Volume 1


We are living in historic times and negotiating multiple national crises. The confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic and unrelenting state-sanctioned murders of Black people has disproportionately impacted our women and girls at the intersections of employment, citizenship, housing, healthcare, and motherhood statuses. As many individuals rally for liberation on the frontlines, how might educational institutions intervene as sources of respite and reparation?
Historically, racialized sexism in U.S. schools has manifested uniquely for Black girl-identified adolescents (including cisgender, queer, and transgender youth). These learners face heightened exposure to malicious discourses and exclusionary disciplinary policies. Engendering #BlackGirlJoy identifies the teaching practices that equip young Black women to locate, analyze, heal from, and ultimately thrive through the suffering they face inside and outside of schools.
The book is rooted in the author’s experience as a South Los Angeles high school teacher working at her alma mater, trying to cultivate the life-affirming education that she desired as a child. Centering her students’ perspectives, Monique Lane outlines a Black feminist pedagogical framework that inspired bountiful #BlackGirlJoy in one embattled public school. This text is a heartfelt offering to educators committed to taking courageous and innovative action—in solidarity with Black girl learners—toward the betterment of their lives!

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter One Introduction
  • Chapter Two A Call for Identity Work: Black Feminist Pedagogy and Black Girl Learners
  • Chapter Three Organized Turmoil: A Struggling School with Boundless Potential
  • Chapter Four Invisibility and Hyper-Visibility: Perceptions of Black Girls in an Urban School
  • Chapter Five Unpacking the Pedagogy
  • Chapter Six Engendering #BlackGirlJoy
  • Chapter Seven Silencing the Ego: Lessons for Developing a Transformative Praxis
  • Index


Children of color in America are simultaneously the most studied and the most underserved. And when they are studied, they are studied from a deficit approach. This scholarship is violent and has produced countless teachers who believe that the identities of young Black girls are unwanted in the classroom and disruptive to the very fabric of schooling. For this reason, we need new playbooks based on new research. We need Black women researchers who were once little Black girls because we can and must tell our own stories, contextualize our own pain, and never take our eyes off the prize of remembering and living Black joy.

If you are picking up this book, you already know that Black girls are special. Black girls possess a joy that is unmatched and needed in all communities, but especially where Black girls live. Justice cannot happen without joy: justice and Black girls are a dual necessity. For educators to understand #BlackGirlJoy and see it as an essential lever for educational justice, teachers must study #BlackGirlJoy. We must dig into the historical, navigational, spiritual, and pedagogical approaches of Black girls to first, marvel in their magic, then begin to shift the ←ix | x→structure of schooling to embody #BlackGirlJoy, which means spaces that are gender affirming, unapologetically Black, intergenerational, and communal. A #BlackGirlJoy school model is what schools should be, but as Monique writes, “They Keep Stealin’ Our Joy.” They steal our joy with standardized testing, stale curriculum, zero tolerance policies, and expelling and suspending Black girls for being Black girls.

Engendering #BlackGirlJoy: How to Cultivate Empowered Identities and Educational Persistence in Struggling Schools shows us how to marvel at Black girls’ self-discovery, voice, and Blackness through the lens of Black feminism. As a Black feminist, I see Monique’s work as an urgent request to think about Black girls in ways that push our understanding of their lives by giving them the space to self-define: a needed, paradigm shifting approach. The voices of Black girls within the pages of this book are critical, powerful, bold, and honest about the complex work of Black life as a Black girl. I am honored that Monique asked me to write the foreword of this powerful book. I hope that you will go on this journey with her to bring the joy of Black girls not only into our schools, but into our world. We need it more than we will ever know.

Bettina L. Love

Atlanta, GA


Conducting this inquiry and completing this book project were equal parts terrific and terrifying. I am indebted to the community of folks who cheered me on along the way.

This book would not be possible without Dr. V—Venus Evans-Winters—the Urban Girls series editor and big sister in my head. I appreciate the platforms that you have offered to illuminate my work. I have been privileged to watch and learn from how you do academia. As a powerful scholar and mentor to countless young intellectuals, you are an ambitious model to follow! Also, I express my gratitude to the folks at Peter Lang Publishing. Patricia Mulrane Clayton, thank you for trusting in the creative direction of this project, and for your patience as it evolved.

I offer tremendous appreciation to Bettina Love. You have blessed this book with a fire foreword that compels readers to come along for the ride. Thank you for accepting my invitation to participate in this project. Your brilliance is luminous, and I am grateful for your generosity.

Also, I want to recognize my mentors—a group of esteemed colleagues who have guided me, dating back to graduate school. I could ←xi | xii→not have completed this endeavor without the insights and skillful encouragement of Drs. Patrick Camangian, Tyrone Howard, Ernest Morrell, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz. I also want to thank Drs. Thomas Philip, Kimberly Gomez, and Peter McClaren. You each read parts of this book in some form. Thank you for pushing me to dig deeper, “be awesomer,” and take up more space in the academy.

And I would be remiss if I did not thank my sista scholar homegurls! Drs. Ifeoma Amah, Karisa Peer, and Crystal Belle reminded me time and again to prioritize community and self-care throughout this process. I am deeply grateful for the meet-ups, phone calls, video chats, and occasional check-ins via text messaging.

To my colleagues at Saint Mary’s College of California and the faculty in the Leadership Department: thank you for granting me grace while I birthed a baby and a book in the same year.

Nimah Gobir, your artistic talents and creativity elevated my words and renewed the spirit of the book. You nailed it! Thanks for your labor and your time.

I also want to offer an enormous thank you to my editor, Jordan Beltran Gonzales. With your care, professionalism, and expertise—we nurtured this book to completion. Your enthusiasm for this project was invaluable.

I am extraordinarily lucky to have had the support of my family while I wrote this book. To my dearly departed parents, I will never take for granted your interest in my educational pursuits and your unyielding confidence in my abilities. I look forward to reading this entire book to you, aloud, when I meet you on the other side! To my phenomenal stepparents, Jake and Lesbia Ross, and the Phillips/Richardson and Laud families—I am indebted to you for holding me up when my foundation was shaky.

To my “ride or die” sisters and BFF—Jynne Ross, Sparkale Ross, and Kashana Moncrief-Williams—your belief in my “magic” is tenacious. You have journeyed with me through graduate school, a post-doctoral fellowship, two cross-country moves, a couple of children, and my trials and triumphs as a faculty member. Thank you for loving me through the rainbows and the storms. And, for your uncanny ability to ←xii | xiii→recite old school Black film quotes randomly in conversation. You each made me smile when finishing this book preoccupied my life.

Additionally, I offer gratitude to my babies, Lena and Raj. Your love kept me buoyed when completing this book felt impossible. You have gifted me with a deeper sense of awareness and compassion. I am a better teacher, scholar, and human being because of you.

I want to shout out, from the rooftop, my husband and life partner, Nikhil Laud. For the past 16 years, you have supported me more than any other person on the planet. Thank you for pushing me outside of my comfort zone, believing in my capacity for greatness, and for “keeping the tiny humans alive” while mama grinds! I am grateful for your sacrifices. Thank you for your devotion to our family. I love you, infinitely.

Amongst the support mentioned above, the King High School community impacted this project most profoundly. To the staff, teachers, and administrators: I have a special place in my heart for the folks who showed up every day, with earnest intentions, to “do right” by Black and Brown children. To the young people who I encountered inside and outside of my classroom, thank you for challenging and inspiring me. Our time together ignited my Black feminist sensibility—which has shaped the trajectory of my personal and professional lives.

Lastly, I want to thank my girls. I vividly recall the hectic pace at King High School, and I was often embroiled in the chaos of teaching. However, your energy was a motivating force, and our conversations reified my purpose. I am honored that you have entrusted me with your stories. Moreover, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to celebrate your humanity and amplify your wisdom through this book. In all of your future endeavors, please remember to center joy. Know that you are infused with a divine light, and you possess the power to change the world. I love each of you to the moon and back! I will forever rep’ “sisterhood, solidarity, and self-love”!

←0 | 1→

Chapter One


Hindsight Is 20/20

As an education professor and former high school English teacher, I endorse the notion that all practice is theory-driven. What teachers do in the classroom is undeniably informed by what they believe. Accordingly, to support Teacher Leaders in their pursuit to become transformative educators, my graduate studies program begins with a class that challenges students to use a critical lens as they investigate the personal beliefs that guide their practice. As the instructor of the inaugural course, I required graduate students to discuss how their multiple identities (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, class, and ability) were situated within community and school contexts and how interactions at those sites have influenced candidates’ sense of self and their Teacher Leader practice. In the past, I have selected autoethnography as the method to conduct these self-explorations. Anchoring personal narratives in a socio-political frame, autoethnographies (a) examine the alienating effects of society, (b) explore connections within and across cultures, and (c) strategize for hope and social change (Carey-Webb, 2001). ←1 | 2→When Master of Arts Degree candidates re-tell their narratives as politicized beings, these learners evolve immensely as they sharpen their understandings of the ties between their personal beliefs and their professional practice. Moreover, shining a light on educators’ ideological postures—and the inherent power, privilege, and biases that individuals bring into the classroom—is the first step toward cultivating equity-minded practitioners who lead with intention.


XVI, 208
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XVI, 208 pp., 8 b/w ill., 1 table.

Biographical notes

Monique Lane (Author)

Monique Lane is a proud mama, an award-winning classroom teacher, and an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Saint Mary’s College of California. Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Dr. Lane earned a Ph.D. in Urban Schooling from UCLA and served as a Provost’s Postdoctoral Researcher at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her research advances Black feminist pedagogy and Black women’s educational parenting strategies as disruptors to school-based stressors that threaten Black girl learners’ opportunities to thrive. Equity & Excellence in Education, International Journal of Educational Reform, and The Urban Review feature notable articles by Dr. Lane.


Title: Engendering #BlackGirlJoy
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
226 pages