Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out
Chapter Twelve: Me, Myself, and I: Exploring African American Girlhood Through an Endarkened (Photographic) Lens
← 142 | 143 →CHAPTER TWELVE
Exploring African American Girlhood Through an Endarkened (Photographic) Lens
KARLA MANNING, ADRIENNE DUKE, AND PHILIP BOSTIC
There are many ideas, opinions, and questions about the construction and representation of adolescents, particularly in visual contexts. Media representations are often problematized by a single narrative based on sociocultural notions of race, gender, and sexuality (Wissman, 2008). This single narrative of adolescence comes from pseudo-scientific, racialized, and sexualized theories about the construction of mankind that can view adolescents as problematic, in a crisis, trouble-some, and “in need of attention” (Lesko, 2012). Similar views are promoted about African American females and disturbingly shift to degrading images concerning identity. African American females are placed within historical fabrications of “self” (specifically originating during slavery and Reconstruction eras) such as the Mammy, the Jezebel, or Hottentot Venus (Smith-McKoy, 2011). These images often re-present Black females as subservient to the White social order by providing sexual, familial, or economic benefits to others (Willis & Williams, 2002). Problematically, these images continue to persist and depict Black females as “nappy-headed hos,” Aunt Jemimas, who continue to be seen on pancake boxes, or as the hyper-sexualized sassy supermama (Dunn, 2008; Ladson-Billings, 2009). As Cobb (2010) convincingly suggests, these stereotypes “serve to justify not only individual prejudices, but also oppressive power relationships” (p. 210). Such discourses create boundaries ← 143 | 144 →and fixtures of the “normal,” which subsequently positions Black females as marginalized, liminal, and an “outsider” (Jordan-Zachery, 2009; Tesfagiorgis, 2001).
Although there are many problematic representations...
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