Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out
Chapter Fourteen: Black Girl Interrupted: A Reflection on the Challenges, Contradictions, and Possibilities in Transitioning from the Community to the Academy
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A Reflection on the Challenges, Contradictions, and Possibilities in Transitioning from the Community to the Academy
Historically, the U.S. school system has overtly and covertly overlooked and subordinated African American female youth. Despite recent efforts toward urban school reform, there has been a general failure to examine the complex sociocultural contexts in which Black female students are situated and the ways in which their subordination is perpetuated in schools. While vestiges of a culturally responsive pedagogical movement are apparent in some schools, endeavors to engage urban African American female youth often translate into curricula that replicates and/or reinforces controlling stereotypical images of Black femininity—and therefore remains disengaging for these students. In this chapter, I use scholarly self-narrative to reflect on my trajectory from an urban Black girl—awkwardly ensconced in a matrix of race, class, and gender oppression—to a graduate student conducting dissertation research on the schooling experiences of African American female youth similar to my younger self.
I begin with a vignette that illustrates my struggle as an adolescent attending a large, academically underperforming urban public school and will describe how my experiences served as the impetus for returning to my alma mater as an English teacher to, in part, mentor African American female youth. As a theoretically informed curricular response to the rising academic disengagement and social alienation experienced by my young, African American female students, I sought to extend the work of Black feminist theorists by creating...
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