Term of Award

Fall 2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Delores Liston

Committee Member 2

Sharon Brooks

Committee Member 3

William Ayers

Committee Member 3 Email



Using autobiographical narrative inquiry, I explore the ways that race, gender, class, culture, and place shape who I was and how I became who I am as a Black woman educator. Family members, colleagues, community members, and students are the main characters in my stories. Building on the works of Collins (2000), Cross (1991), Gay (2000), He (2003), hooks (2000), and Tatum (1997), I use Black women hair metaphors such as nappy roots, split ends, new growth, and no lye to comb through the phases of my life. For the purpose of protecting the characters and myself in my stories, I have fictionalized characters, events, settings, and time to capture the complexities of Black girlhood and to provide the space necessary to identify recurring themes of resilience, strength, and determination embedded in the stories of my life. Although there is a large body of research literature on autobiographies that explore teachers' personal and professional identities, few texts explore the influence of race, gender, class, culture, and place on the development of identities from a Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Thought standpoint. I use hair metaphors to narrate my experience as a mobile urban youth growing up in the U.S. South. Each incident, much like the lye in a perm or wave kit, seeps into my pores, creating not only a new and different style through which to story and (re)story my life, but also a story to be added to the limited body of literature on the complexities of Black girlhood. Although this study focuses on my personal experience of race, gender, class, culture, and place, it has implications for educators, teachers, administrators, parents, and education policy makers to understand the identity development of Black girls, their cultural roots, learning styles, academic achievements, and highest potentials in schools and greater social environments. I hope that my study could in some ways act as a force to demolish "the White Architects of Black Education" (Watkins, 2001). These hair stories are counter stories that challenge the stereotypical meta-narratives about Black women, evoke dialogues about the suppressing and controlling images of Black women, and incite changes in the ways Black women are defined and educated, and the ways they live their lives.

Research Data and Supplementary Material