Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Harper, Brian

Subject Headings

African American Studies, African Americans, Black Studies, Education, Educational Sociology, Gender Studies, Womens Studies


This qualitative, ethnographic study explores various tensions and struggles around gender and racial stereotypes that three urban teenage African American girls encounter as they try to develop a sense of oneself as an individual and in relation to the world. The purpose of this study was to explore Black high school girls’ experiences in a predominately urban public school in the Midwest. This study is guided by the following research question: In what way do gender and racial bias contribute to the self-perception of African American adolescent girls? Interrogating the multiple standpoints that inform African American female identity and how these multiple perspectives are moderated not only by gender, race, and socioeconomic status, but also by ability and classroom context and their role in influencing academic achievement this study is guided by three sub-questions: 1. How do African American girls’ perceptions of themselves and the classroom practices in which they engage inform their in-school identities? 2. How do African American girls’ perceptions of themselves and the classroom practices in which they engage inform their out-of- school identities? 3. What are the tools and strategies Black girls use to resist intersecting oppressions in order to persist in these environments? The research design included autoethnographic vignettes, individual interviews (audio), autobiographies and field notes. I conducted four individual interviews with each of the participants in the study. The findings showed that Black girls in predominately urban educational settings are heavily marginalized and both structurally and individually experience various forms of oppression related to race, gender and class inequity. Girls in those settings employ various tactics related to relationships, parental support, social activities, and Black identity as a way to resist oppressions as well as survive in these spaces. Girls display a diverse set of experiences in schools, and use a range of strategies to persist, which illustrates the heterogeneity of the Black girls’ experience and the need for continued study of their experiences in schools.