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A Call to Action

Creativity and Black Girlhood

Crystal Leigh Endsley

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“Something Good Distracts Us from the Bad”

Girls Cultivating Disruption

Crystal Leigh Endsley


There are increasing demands that scholars of girlhood studies pay attention to the ways in which girls of color challenge the powerful discourses that work to constrain them. I take up this call to action through an analysis of the spoken word poetry of black, brown, and mixed-race high school girls in New Orleans, Louisiana. I discuss varying levels of consciousness about these discourses as represented in the poems of three girls aged 14, 15, and 16 that offer nuanced entry into the ambiguous process of their developing identities. I link instances of disruption highlighted through their poetry to aspects of their day-to-day experience to present a theoretical intervention that I call cultivated disruption that points to the ways in which girls of color are already practicing poetry as pleasurable and creative survival.