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Black Feminism in Education

Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out


Edited By Venus E. Evans-Winters and Bettina L. Love

In Black Feminism in Education: Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out, authors use an endarkened feminist lens to share the ways in which they have learned to resist, adapt, and re-conceptualize education research, teaching, and learning in ways that serve the individual, community, nation, and all of humanity. Chapters explore and discuss the following question: How is Black feminist thought and/or an endarkened feminist epistemology (EFE) being used in pre-K through higher education contexts and scholarship to marshal new research methodologies, frameworks, and pedagogies? At the intersection of race, class, and gender, the book draws upon alternative research methodologies and pedagogies that are possibly transformative and healing for all involved in the research, teaching, and service experience. The volume is useful for those interested in women and gender studies, research methods, and cultural studies.
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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


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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