When recognizing the cultural political agency of Black women and girls from diverse racial and ethnic, gender, sexual, and socioeconomic backgrounds and geographical locations, it is argued that intersectionality is a contributing factor in the mitigation of educational inequality. Intersectionality as an analytical framework helps education researchers, policymakers, and practitioners better understand how race and gender intersect to derive varying amounts of penalty and privilege. Race, class, and gender are emblematic of the three systems of oppression that most profoundly shape Black girls at the personal, community, and social structural levels of institutions. These three systems interlock to penalize some students in schools while privileging other students. The intent of theoretically framing and analyzing educational problems and issues from an intersectional perspective is to better comprehend how race and gender overlap to shape (a) educational policy and discourse, (b) relationships in schools, and (c) students’ identities and experiences in educational contexts. With Black girls at the center of analysis, educational theorists and activists may be able to better understand how politics of domination are organized along other axes such as ethnicity, language, sexuality, age, citizenship status, and religion within and across school sites. Intersectionality as a theoretical framework is informed by a variety of standpoint theories and emancipatory projects, including Afrocentrism, Black feminism and womanism, critical race theory, queer theory, radical Marxism, critical pedagogy, and grassroots’ organizing efforts led by Black, Indigenous, and other women of color throughout US history and across the diaspora.
Venus E. Evans-Winters
Menah Pratt-Clarke, Andrea N. Baldwin, and Letisha Engracia Cardoso Brown
To discuss and understand urban teaching and Black girls’ pedagogies, the fundamental premise is that Black girls are not monolithic, but complex and nonhomogenous. Black girlhood studies recognize that, because of their intersectional race, class, and gender status, Black girls have different experiences than Black boys and White girls. Core themes in Black girlhood include self-identity and socialization; beauty and self-expression; popular culture, hip hop, and stereotypes; violence; systemic discipline in schools; and resiliency and survival. Responding to the unique experiences of Black girls, Black women educators developed and adopted a pedagogy that focuses on and centers Black girls and Black girlhood in all their complexity. Using a strengths-based approach, Black girls’ pedagogy is built on a Black feminist and womanist framework that recognizes the need for culturally informed curriculum and classroom experiences, more Black women educators, and a commitment to an ethics of care.
Dominique C. Hill
Carcerality in educational settings tends to focus on the school-to-prison pipeline and other ways that bodies differentially marked by race, gender, and, more recently, sexuality and ability are punished and tracked into the juvenile justice system. The ongoing chain between marginalized bodies and criminality is evident in rates of incarceration based on race and gender specifically. Black lesbian feminist organizing of the late 20th century called attention to the relationship between social identities and carcerality. Expanding on this work, Black feminist scholarship argues that Black womxn and girls are inherently valuable and that liberation is necessary for autonomy. Scholarship, however, illustrates how freedom for Black womxn and girls are directly mediated by systems of race, gender, sexuality, class, as well as by the discourses created to maintain order through institutions such as schools and prisons. Building on the preceding connections between social identities and confinement, Black girls’ specific encounters with high-stakes policies, such as zero-tolerance, and school discipline reveal new textures and distinct qualities of carcerality that expand education’s understanding of carceral spaces and experiences. In a society that presumes Black girls need no protection because their Blackness is feared while their femininity remains unrealized, Black girls’ bodily deliberations and embodied choices are acts of resistance and self-definition.
Racheal Banda, Ganiva Reyes, and Blanca Caldas
Curricula of care and radical love encompass a collective and communal responsibility for education practitioners, leaders, and researchers to meet the needs of the historically marginalized communities they serve and of their work toward social change. These articulations are largely drawn from the ontologies, ways of knowing, communal practices, and traditions of the Global South as articulated by Black and Chicana/Latina women. Starting in the 1980s, Nel Noddings’ work around ethics of care sparked philosophical discussions of care within the education field. Educational scholars, including critical scholars of color, have been influenced by care theories that emphasize care as rooted in relationships and everyday interactions between educators and students. Feminists of color and critical education scholars have expanded theories of care in education by pointing out the ways in which race and other social identifiers impact interpretations of care. Even before the work of current care theorists, by the turn of the twentieth century, Anna Julia Cooper argued for a love-politic that decentered romantic love and instead centered a self-determining and emancipatory form of love. This opened a pathway for a radical, Black feminist conceptualization of love. Black feminist scholars have since further developed and expanded upon conceptualizations of a love-politic contributing to a more robust understanding of care and love. Latina/Chicana feminists have also contributed to onto-theoretical insights that highlight how care is a necessity toward critical understandings, personal connections, self-work, and movement building. Concepts such as convivencia and cariño from Latina/Chicana feminists demonstrate how care is co-constructed through relationship building over time and through the sharing of life experiences. Moreover, practices like othermothering and radical love further reveal how intimate and personal interactions are necessary for critical self-growth and communal love toward liberation. From this view, to love and care in ways that advance justice in education requires an expansive approach to curriculum and pedagogy, which includes spaces beyond classroom walls like the home, families, communities, culture, and non-school organizations. Taken together, scholars, educators, and other stakeholders in education may find use in drawing upon feminist of color conceptions and literature of care and love to reimagine transformative possibilities for education research, policy, practice, and curriculum.