Drawing on interviews with Black women who sang in all-female vocal groups during the late 1950s and early 1960s, I examine the important role played by integrated public and private schools in the formation of the 1960s girl group phenomenon. From talent shows to choir practice, locker rooms to hallways, Black girls took up audible space in institutions of higher learning whenever they harmonized with friends or acquaintances. The collective identities Black girls created in their vocal groups allowed them to challenge racial and gender stereotypes in the civil rights era while also modeling sisterhood and friendship for subsequent generations of girls.
Katie Scott Newhouse
In this article, I use data collected as part of my dissertation (Newhouse 2020) to inquire into how one participant, Joanna, who self-identifies as a Black girl, described her lived experiences while attending the Voices alternative-to-detention program. I use the theoretical framework of disability studies in education and critical race theory (DisCrit) with critical spatial theory to analyze collected ethnographic data, such as in-depth field notes, audio-recorded informal conversations, and semi-structured interviews, to show the space Joanna co-created with adult facilitators to center her lived experiences. An attention to the spatial dimension shows how spaces are agentive and has important implications for developing and sustaining educational spaces that cultivate an understanding of the geographies that draw from and center Black girls’ lived experiences.
A Luo’s Letter Addressing Gossips, Girl Fights, and Gashes
Esther O. Ohito
Black Girls Saying and Creating Space through Fantasy Worlds
The rampant murder of Black women and girls in the United States proves that this place is not safe for them. In fact, it is questionable whether any space currently known can be safe when antiblackness and misogynoir are interwoven into the fabric of our world. For this reason, researchers must explore the unbound landscapes Black girls create for themselves in fantastic narratives. In this article, I examine the fantasy short stories of two Black middle school girls who participated in a writing workshop to explore how they resisted spatial control by creating new worlds they had the power to construct and dismantle.
Black Girls Fight to Save Themselves and the World
In this article, I engage in a parallel reading of the consumption of Black girlhood in speculative fiction in the television series The Passage, and the film The Girl with All the Gifts, and in the classroom. In these texts are nonconsensual attempts to harvest biological materials from Black girls, exhibiting the belief that Black bodies are utilitarian, at best, and meant for consumption. Like these narratives, the classroom consumes Black girls physically along with their futures. I explore how Black girl resistance disrupts such consumption and interrogate texts in which Black girls create narratives for themselves. In these narratives, so-called disposable Black girls map out new cartographies of narrative resistance and new liberatory geographies for their future.
Showcasing the Lived Realities of Black Girls using Ethnopoetics
In this article, I explore how ethnopoetics can be a profound research methodology and can also offer a pathway to self-actualization. When ethnopoetics is combined with a Black feminist/womanist theoretical framework, it allows for Black girls to self-define and self-validate their existence. The verse novel provides an opportunity to communicate Black girls’ and women’s feelings and experiences to researchers and educators in accessible ways. It also serves as a platform to grieve, praise, love, and grow. Such work stands in marked contrast to dominant narratives of Black girlhood.
The “me of me” in Black Girlhoods
Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith
We begin by paying tribute to feminist Black scholar, bell hooks, who died 15 December 2021. As the numerous citations in just this issue alone bear witness, she has had a huge influence on feminist ways of thinking particularly in relation to how race, gender, and capitalism intersect. In her well-known essay, “In Our Glory” on Black girlhood and visual culture (hooks 1994), she offers a memory of losing a photograph of herself as a young girl in the 1950s masquerading, as she called it, in full cowgirl regalia.
Rap Music and Strategies of Refusal
In this article, I begin by taking seriously the cultural contributions that Black women and girls make to hip-hop, thereby shifting the sociocultural and political landscape. Black girls and women do this in a variety of ways, but here I focus on how Black women rappers model and perform multiple embodied refusals that expand the possibilities for Black girls. Inspired by the cultural force of the current moment in hip-hop that is increasingly dominated by young Black women, I reflect on how Black women rappers reconstitute space through performance, music, and performances rooted in practices of refusal.
Ontological Black Girlhood in the Twenty-first Century
Renee Nishawn Scott
When society invokes Cashawn Thompson’s hashtag phrase, “Black Girl Magic,” we laud the accomplishments of Black women and girls as if those triumphs are innate. In this article, I suggest that Black girls participate in a process that I call light making, or embodying that which is lighthearted, encouraging, and self-preserving. In exploring this particular ontology, I deconstruct Black Girl Magic by focusing on contemporary examples of light making as a way of understanding the critical role that Black girls play in Black cultural formation. By focusing on Black girl joy and play in social media, I stress light making as an ontology located in Black girlhood.
Black Girls as Creators, Subjects, and Witnesses
Erin M. Stephens and Jamaica Gilmer
The bus was full of excited chatter as it pulled up in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known universally as The Met) on Fifth Avenue on a cold morning in January. Thirteen girls, along with invited loved ones, had traveled for nine-and-a-half hours from Durham, NC, to view their art displayed in the exhibit, “Pens, Lens, and Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project” (hereafter, “Pens, Lens, and Soul”). First, the girls filed off the bus to take a photograph on the steps of The Met. As their family and friends waited to disembark, they laughed and shivered while posing for numerous photographs and videos on the cold steps. As they stood at the bottom of the steps of the grand prestigious museum, the impressiveness of their accomplishment was just beginning to dawn on many of them. As she walked around the exhibit one of the artists would comment, “I feel surprised because I didn't realize it was this big of a thing and I was here and it's a thing, it's a big thing … we are capable of doing anything.”