"ease on down the road: black women's schooling narratives
Washington, Rachelle D
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Scholars writing about Black women’s lives have advocated a need to extend the research on the schooling experiences and girlhood stories of Black girls and women. Informed by Black feminist thought and womanist theory, I examine, as a participant as well as a researcher, how eight Black women doctoral students discuss and deconstruct our schooling and lived experiences. This interview study focuses on ways stories aid in understanding the complexities of the sociocultural and sociopolitical context of Black women’s schooling experiences. Similarly, participants’ schooling narratives shed light on ways school, home, and community construct our identities. As such, the narratives provide a critical lens for illuminating the experiences that propel us women to pursue doctoral degrees. I conducted 14 semi-structured in-depth interviews and collected demographic profile information. The interviews lasted 60 – 90 minutes. I analyzed the participants’ narratives using three lenses – narrative, cultural, and poetic. These three analytic lenses offer unique vantage points to viewing more wholly the participants’ narratives. Through narrative, cultural, and poetic analysis, I identified five themes in the participants’ schooling and lived experiences: 1) these Black women exhibited agency despite societal, familial, and institutional complexities; 2) sociohistorical events shaped each participant; 3) Black family and community contexts emphasized education and academic potential; 4) schools often reflected society in attempts to construct these Black women in narrow ways; and 5) some teachers encouraged academic potential through relationships with these Black women.