Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


African American girls--Education--Middle West; African American girls--Middle West--Attitudes; Sexism in education--Middle West; Racism in education--Middle West;


African American girls are more likely to experience social barriers in a society that values White over Black, men over women, and wealth over poverty. They are more likely to encounter race, class, and gender discrimination in classrooms, curriculum, and pedagogy putting them at grave risk of school failure. Notwithstanding the deficit research approach, African American girls are invisible in both social theory and educational research. Their virtual absence from existing research is the catalyst for this autoethnographic study of the lived experiences of African American girls in the Girls to Women group at an urban high school. In this research, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is employed as a theoretical lens providing a useful framework for examining how race and gender combine to shape African American girls’ school experiences. CRT authenticates critical raced epistemologies by celebrating methodological approaches that acknowledge experiences of oppression and validates them as appropriate forms of data. The girls’ counterstories reveal very prevalent themes: they all desired to belong; they all felt that they were scrutinized by teachers and administrators; they all discussed inherent challenges of being a Black female in our society; and they all were influenced by their family dynamic ranging from absent fathers to othermothers, as widely respected staples in Black culture. Based on these themes, the research offers recommendations for teacher to embrace critical pedagogy, challenging them to deconstruct traditional teacher/student roles by creating inviting spaces for learning by legitimizing life experiences of students of color. Recommendations for administrators include a call to mandate meaningful professional development for new and veteran teachers and to encourage the creation and maintenance of peer like groups so that students of color have a place to belong. Implications for further research are based on the failure of traditional mainstream educational scholarship to provide a useful paradigm to examine the realities of African American girls and for research that speaks to the resiliency and strength of them as an antidote. Further research should be concerned with the knowledge of African American girls, who constructs understanding of their experiences, and how this knowledge is validated or not validated.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Nicholas J. Pace

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 173 pages)



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