Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Gholnecsar Muhammad, PhD.

Second Advisor

Michelle Zoss, PhD.

Third Advisor

Jennifer Esposito Norris, PhD.

Fourth Advisor

Detra Price-Dennis, PhD.


This qualitative study sought to understand how Black West African immigrant girls understood their racial, ethnic, and gendered identities through the analysis of media and textual representations of Black girlhood and Africa. I explored how Black West African immigrant girls utilized critical media literacy pedagogy (Kellner and Share, 2007; McArthur, 2016) to (re)create their own identities through multimodal literacy practices (Mills & Levido, 2011; Price-Dennis, 2016). I drew upon critical race feminism (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012), transnationalism (Chacko, 2019; Kebede, 2019), and the Black girl literacies framework (Muhammad & Haddix, 2016) as epistemological and conceptual frameworks to guide my research. To gain a deeper understanding of the participants’ lived experiences and triple consciousness as Black girls of West African immigrant descent, in the United States, I employed a narrative inquiry case study methodology. Narrative inquiry focuses on how individual and social lived experiences are translated and shared through stories (Connelly & Clandinin, 2006; Clandinin, 2013; Montero and Washington, 2011). Narrative inquiry does not just consist of participants telling stories to researchers, but rather extends and complicates the notion of researchers “coming alongside” participants for qualitative inquiry. The study consisted of a collaborative literacy institute developed using the Historically Responsive Literacy Framework (Muhammad, 2020) and was supported by focus groups, interviews, and multimodal document analysis. Four adolescent girls, who identified as 2nd generation (Rumbaut, Massey, & Bean, 2006) West African immigrants and lived within a large metropolitan city in the Southeast region of the United States, participated in the study. Data analysis was guided by the constant comparative analysis method (Glaser, 1965). The study’s finding illuminated that Black West African immigrant girls were aware of negative misrepresentations of Black girlhood and Africa but did not prescribe to these misrepresentations. The participants rejected these misrepresentations by developing positive self-identity and counternarratives. The outcomes of the literacy workshop included increased self-confidence and written counternarratives and critiques that presented fuller representations of their identities as Black West African immigrant girls. The findings of this study suggest that secondary literacy educators should implement pedagogical strategies that emphasize collaboration, relationship building, and multimodal composition.


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