Black/Girlhood Imaginary
Name: Kenly Brown, Lashon Alexandra Daley, Derrika Hunt

As a Black feminist collective of doctoral students, we critically engage theoretical frameworks and qualitative analytics in order to conceptualize our framework of the “Black/Girlhood Imaginary.” In order to continue to investigate this imaginary—this rupture birthed out of Black feminism (Collins, 1990)—we will use this working group as an opportunity to work through our framework and to hear from others about our points of intersection. As a working group, we seek to wrestle with our understanding of Black girlhood and open up a conversation between the fields of education, performance studies, and African American studies. We seek to theorize “Black/Girlhood Imaginary” through temporality, embodiment,
performance (Taylor, 2003), and confinement. We use the prolific words of the Combahee River Collective to convey the importance and urgency of our collective. We too “believe that the most profound and potentially the most radical politics come directly out of our own identity” (Smith, 1983). We also believe, as thriving Black feminists scholars, that “Black/Girlhood Imaginary” will disrupt the silences and illuminate the space between Black girlhood and Black womanhood. Black girls live in a social world that survives and thrives off of their erasure and exploitation (Ladner, 1971).

The topics we will discuss at our working group are as follows: 19th-century African American folktales and performance; Black girls’ relationship to knowledge production, epistemology and schooling; the ways Black women/girls document themselves against the archival grain; the criminalization of Black girls in schools and the contemporary criminal justice system; and Black-girl affect (Ahmed, 2010).

(Photo on left from #FreeBresha site.)