Black/Girlhood Imaginary

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 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).

We aim to center Black girls as key stakeholders, thus allowing them to voice their own issues and provide key insights on their wants and needs. We envision the work of our collective as a theoretical  extension of intersectionality, and a tangible way to support Black girls from various communities because we understand that as Audre Lorde articulates “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

We seek to investigate notions and conceptualizations of gender inequity through the embodiment and lived experience of Black girls and women.

Our primary questions are:

1) What is Black girlhood?

2) How does Black girlhood move beyond an identity and become reified?

3) What is the relationship between Black girlhood and Black womanhood?

4) How has history shaped notions of Black girlhood and Black womanhood?

5) How do social constructions of Black girlhood and Black womanhood impact social outcomes, pathways, and trajectories for Black girls and women?

Black/Girlhood Imaginary Events

Flyer for 2-19-2020 CRG Forum

Savannah Shange And The Black/Girlhood Imaginary

02.20.2020 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

In conversation with Dr. Savannah Shange (Assistant Professor in Anthropology at University of California, Santa Cruz), the Black/Girlhood Imaginary working group will have an open discussion related to Black feminisms, methodologies, and Black girlhood.We theorize “Black/Girlhood Imaginary” through temporality, embodiment, performance (Taylor, 2003), and confinement. We believe that, as thriving Black feminist scholars, “Black/Girlhood Imaginary” illuminates the space, the chasm, the fissure, and the interstices of Black girlhoods. In order to continue to investigate this imaginary—this rupture birthed out of Black feminism (Collins, 1990)—we will use this conversation as an opportunity to work through our framework. We draw from Dr. Shange’s most recent article, “Black Girl Ordinary: Flesh, Carcerality, and the Refusal of Ethnography,” andher forthcoming book, Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Antiblackness, and Schooling in San Francisco (2019). Our discussion includes central questions regarding what is at stake for Black girls in a progressive era of education and what methods offer insight into their lives. More specifically, we ask questions in regard to Shange’s development of ethics and accountability when conducting an ethnography that engages Black girls. Finally, we will learn from Dr. Shange how Black girls refuse and utilize those refusals to navigate the landscapes of power relations in a dystopic progressive politic

Hosted by CRG's Research Working Group - Black/Girlhood Imaginary

LISTEN - Click to hear "Savannah Shange And The Black/Girlhood Imaginary"

Flyer for Between Good and Ghetto: Ten Years Later

Between Good and Ghetto: Ten Years Later

02.28.2019 | 5:00 – 7:00 PM |  Multicultural Community Center at the MLK Jr. Student Union

Between Good and Ghetto: Ten Years Later celebrates the ten-year anniversary of UC Berkeley Professor Nikki Jones’s groundbreaking work, Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence. Led by the Black/Girlhood Imaginary Working Group, this event will feature a conversation around the importance of Jones’s work as well as the impact of Black Girlhood Studies as a new and growing academic field.

Hosted by CRG Research Working Group - Black/Girlhood Imaginary. 

LISTEN - Click to hear "Between Good and Ghetto: Ten Years Later"