Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce King

Second Advisor

Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Kristen Buras

Fourth Advisor

Venus Evans-Winters

Abstract

Black girls continue to suffer from inequitable treatment in schools resulting in disparate academic and social outcomes. While deficit ideologists have continued to attribute outcomes to cultural deficiencies within the Black community, research has found various systemic issues of racism and sexism seriously affecting Black girls in schools. However, the experiences of this population remain under or uninvestigated. When Black girls’ experiences in school are investigated, they are commonly framed as a group in need of saving and their perspectives and voices eliminated from the work. Further, this group is often homogenized and all their experiences limited to those of the inner-city or urban environments. Using a critical raced-gendered epistemology, grounded in critical race theory and Black feminism/womanism, this qualitative interview study explores Black high school girls’ experiences in a predominately White suburban public school in the southeast. Through the method of storytelling that includes constructing counter narratives, five girls (ages 14-16) relay their experiences in this predominately White suburban educational space. Parent reflections as well as document review augment these girls’ stories to further illuminate their experience. A grounded theory analysis of these data uses my own cultural intuition. This analytic approach foregrounds the intersectionality of Black girls’ understanding of their racial and gendered educational experiences in a predominantly White suburban environment, the systemic barriers that serve to inhibit their success, and the methods of resistance girls use to persist in these spaces. This study is significant in both its methodology as well as results, offering critical insight into how to conduct equitable and liberatory research and create education policies to improve outcomes for this underserved group.

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