A growing body of literature highlights how teachers and administrators influence Black girls’ academic and social experiences in school. Yet, less of this work explores how Black undergraduate women understand their earlier school experiences, particularly in relation to whether teachers advocated for their educational success or participated in discriminatory practices that hindered their potential. Using consensual qualitative research (CQR) methods, the present semi-structured interview study explored the narratives of 50 Black undergraduate women (mean age = 20 years) who reflected on their experiences with teachers and school administrators during high school. Five discriminatory themes emerged, including body and tone policing, exceptionalism, tokenization, cultural erasure in the curriculum, and gatekeeping grades and opportunities. Three anti-racist themes emerged, including communicating high expectations and recognizing potential, challenging discrimination in the moment, and instilling racial and cultural pride. Our findings highlight the higher prevalence of discriminatory events compared to anti-racist teacher practices, as well as how the women’s high school experiences occurred at the intersection of race and gender. The Authors discuss the need to incorporate gender and sexism into discussions of anti-racist teacher practices to address Black girls’ experiences of misogynoir. We hope our findings contribute to educational initiatives that transform the learning landscape for Black girls by demonstrating how educators can eliminate pedagogical practices that harm their development.
Seanna Leath, Noelle Ware, Miray D. Seward
The Social Sciences