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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 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


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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