Concrete Roses: An Exploration of the Parallel Lived Experiences of Black Girls and Women in K-12 Schools
ALICIA W. DAVIS. Concrete roses: An exploration of the parallel lived experiences of Black girls and women in K-12 schools. (Under the direction of DR. BETTIE RAY BUTLER)The schooling and leadership experiences of Black girls and women are overlooked as they are often intertwined with the experiences of Black males or White women. Historically, the academic, mentoring, leadership, and mental health needs of Black girls and women have been neglected and challenged in educational settings. The purpose of this three-article dissertation was to explore the racialized lived experiences of Black girls and women in K-12 schools from a student and Black school administrator perspective. Using autoethnography, study one explored my experiences as a Black girl growing up in the South attending predominately White schools and my experiences as a Black female assistant principal in an urban middle school. I reflected upon my school age years, teaching tenure, and principalship to discover the parallels between being a Black female student and Black female administrator in K-12 schools. The research questions guiding this study were: 1) What unique challenges did I encounter as a Black girl attending school in the South?, and 2) How does my identity as a Black woman administrator impact how I navigated through White spaces as an assistant principal of an urban school? Study two used a single case study research design to explore how an out-of-school suspension affected the academic self-concept of a Black girl who recently graduated from high school. Convenience sampling was used to select the participant. The primary research question guiding this study was: 1) How does a Black girl, who recently graduated from high school, perceive her academic opportunities after encountering a suspension in school? Study three used a multiple case study design to understand how the treatment of Black women administrators impacted their leadership abilities. Using purposeful convenience sampling, I explored how two Black women principals perceived their treatment by their staff and leaders and how these experiences affected their ability to lead. The research question guiding this study was: 1) How do two Black women principals navigate the gendered and raced work environment of their urban schools? The findings from this dissertation indicate the following: a) Black girls and women encounter racism as students and administrators; b) Black girls and women lack mentorship and support at levels in education; c) A gifted Black girl viewed her academic outcomes negatively after experiencing out-of-school suspension; and d) Black women principals encounter gendered racism while serving as school leaders but remain committed to their leadership approach of providing inclusive environments for students. The overall implications for this study suggest Black girls and women need collaborative spaces in schools that permit them to discuss their experiences without consequence from leaders and mentoring and mental health supports must be in place for Black women to grow professionally and Black girls to grow academically.