Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out
Chapter Three: “Out of the Mouths of Babes”: Using Cynthia Dillard’s Endarkened Feminist Epistemology to Reveal Unseen Gendered Passageways
← 34 | 35 →CHAPTER THREE
Using Cynthia Dillard’s Endarkened Feminist Epistemology to Reveal Unseen Gendered Passageways
ANGELA N. CAMPBELL
The Ella Baker Rites of Passage study advanced how adolescent Black girls negotiated intersecting identities in the midst of navigating interpersonal relationships in high school (Brown, 2009; Collins, 2000; Evans-Winters, 2005; King, 1988). Rites of passage (ROP) classes at Ella Baker Freedom Academy prepared students to use successful communication strategies to develop mutual trust, resolve peer conflicts, and embrace a healthy self-concept. ROP activities included trust building exercises, lessons on effective interpersonal communication with “other sisters,” conflict resolution on the “hot seat,” and a series of interactive dialogue about internalized oppression, sexism, male and female relationships, women’s issues, domestic violence, and female confidence found in films, book excerpts, poetry, and special guest lectures. These nontraditional classes evoked intense conversation, debate, and challenges about ways to overcome the silences on important adolescent issues. Relational and identity concerns dominated most of these classes. In this context, rites of passage functioned as a female empowerment youth program.
My informants’ reflections and counter-narratives revealed important lessons about developing a womanhood and sisterhood consciousness. The term sisterhood connotes the development of relational bonds that promote empathy, friendships, and collaboration among same-sex peers. This chapter examines how an ← 35 | 36 →endarkened feminist epistemology (EFE) endarkens or deepens our gendered and cultural understandings of adolescent girls’ reflections of rites of passage. Dillard (2012) explains that EFE articulates,
how reality is known when based in the...
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