Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Harriet Goodman


Willie Tolliver

Committee Members

Alexis Jemal

Subject Categories

Africana Studies | Community-Based Research | Educational Sociology | Gender and Sexuality | Nonprofit Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Social Justice | Social Work


Black girls, Co-researchers, School Discipline, Liberation, Third Spaces, Participatory Action Research


The study participants were co-research partners and engaged in a Project Based Learning six-week summer project in an urban northeastern metropolis community-based non-profit where they received stipends for participation. This dissertation explored how Blackgirls (aged 14 -21) express their experiences with disparate school punishment through community-based participatory artmaking. We called the photos, poems, collages, sculptures, storyboards, digital art, visual art, songs, spoken word, and videos Artivisions (art I vision). In the Jam Sessions, a subset of the partners we called curators discussed the pieces, shared their experiences, and offered insight into Blackgirls’ responses, coping skills, and decision-making regarding school punishment. In the Jam Sessions, the curators explored their artwork and the art of their partners. Elements borrowed from A-BYPAR, the mosaic approach, (re)storying, and play, we centered the voices of Blackgirls, provided space for alternate mediums of expression, and recognized youth as experts in their lives. The study identifies a Black Artivisionary Mosaic as an innovative methodological and practice-based inquiry that explores the approaches Blackgirls use to generate refusals through A-BYPAR, to express their artistic creativity through the mosaic approach, and to create counternarratives /(re)storying in opposition to dominant narratives through play. We co-created a space to engage Blackgirls in the exploratory processes to acknowledge, interrogate, disrupt, and contemplate alternative narratives about their disproportionate school punishment. We incorporated A-BYPAR and artivism as pedagogical tools that Blackgirls use to disrupt, unhinge, and unthink the state through arts-based activist strategies to resist, refuse, and reclaim their humanity in the pursuit of collective liberation. The following questions were explored: 1. What stories do Blackgirls tell about their experiences with school punishment? 2. How do Blackgirls use their stories to cope with the social, psychological, emotional, and mental health consequences of school punishment? And 3. How do Blackgirls engage multimodal literacies to create stories of resistance and refusal in response to school punishment? This study was composed of three parts: (1) ethnographic observations to understand school punishment issues from a social justice perspective; (2) arts-based participatory action research focused on the concept of disparate school punishment of participants including self-identified Blackgirl participants, Blackgirl/women staff, and me, a Black woman social worker; 3) Transcriptions of the Jam Session focus group sessions with curators reflecting on Artivisions (member checking / triangulation); 4) ten audio recordings of reflection, spoken word (poems), and songs. Collective analysis with the curators identified six themes across three larger domains: 1. Feelings: Blackgirls experience feelings of invisibility and unprotection by their peers and teachers in school. 2. Freeze: Blackgirls experience the trauma response of freezing and are isolated and silenced when they advocate for themselves or other Blackgirls. 3. Freedom: In response to feeling and freezing, Blackgirls pursue freedom v unapologetically and with imagination to cope with the stressors of school punishment. The Blackgirl Artivisionary Mosaic process contributed to four outcomes: (1) it validated shared experiences of power and control relations for Blackgirls who are disproportionately punished in schools; 2) it encouraged a shift in perspective about systematic misogynoir in institutions; 3) it affirmed identity, cultivated solidarity, built confidence and pride; (4) it promoted a discipline of hope, futurity, and possibility for Blackgirls’ needs to be centered in school settings. Findings from this study have implications for school administrators to integrate critical consciousness development in curricula, to promote abolitionist pedagogies and living curricula, and to identify safe third spaces outside of the home and school that specifically address the needs of Blackgirls.