Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor

Sherry Deckman

Committee Members

Wendy Luttrell

Rosa Rivera-McCutchen

Subject Categories

Education | Social Justice

Keywords

Black Girls, Trauma, Discrimination, Oppression, School, Black Feminist Theory

Abstract

This study explored how African American Teenage Girls framed and navigated their stressful experiences in educational contexts. Drawing from one-on-one interviews and focus groups, this study aimed to raise awareness about the ways African American Teenage Girls defined, interpreted, and internalized the tensions of stress in a school setting. This exploratory qualitative study was grounded in the conceptual frameworks of Black Feminist Theory (BFT), and Critical Race Theory (CRT). These theories were used to explore how systemic oppression may cause stress. By sharing their collective and individual stories, this study revealed my participants grappled with sources of stress, such as the pressure to excel, suffering in silence, differential treatment, and race-related stressors. Participants defined, identified, and discussed the facets of discrimination they faced, including hair discrimination. Additionally, participants managed these stressors and types of discrimination with resilience and support. While resilience was beneficial to adapting to the stressors in the school setting, there were also harmful elements to the participants’ notion of resilience. Support systems are vital for African American Teenage Girls to survive and thrive, despite the socio-emotional challenges they face. Given the causes and circumstances which create stress, this study offered insights to expand educators’ understanding of the struggles of African American Teenage Girls.

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