Term of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Daniel E. Chapman

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Leila Villaverde

Abstract

This dissertation is an inquiry into my life. It is an exploration of my lived experience as an African American female negotiating through traditions in Southern culture and societal pressures to create a positive identity. Using autobiographical narrative (Connelly, He, & Phillion, 2008, Pinar, 2008) as a methodology and Black Feminist Thought (Collins, 2000), double consciousness (DuBois, 1903), and the Nigrescence Theory of black identity development (Cross, 1991) as the theoretical framework, I examine my experiences from childhood to adulthood. Through these narrations, I note paradigm shifts in my thinking that identify the psychological struggles between feeling racially inferior and comfortable with my race. To protect individuals who may be inaccurately perceived, I fictionalize the setting and characters while remaining faithful to each character's persona and the nature of the events. Although there are other autobiographical works of research literature that explore the societal influences of one's racial identity, few texts explore the aspects of race, gender, and class from the rural perspective of an African American female educator. My dissertation contributes to the field of curriculum studies in several ways. It explores the internalized color based hierarchy that occurs within African American culture as well as American society and illustrates how it impacts various aspects of our lives. It also explores the ways that race interacts with gender, class, and religion creating a more complex distinction between those who are perceived as inferior and/or superior. Additionally, it challenges teachers, administrators, parents, and all others who educate to reflect upon their personal values and beliefs and critically examine the external factors that help to create them. The invisibility of white supremacy and the psychological effects of racism are often undetected, ignored, or ineffectively addressed. Considering our country's tumultuous racial past, many people believe that current Civil Rights legislation along with the election of black president signify a post-racial America. Racism and racial discrimination continue to negatively impact people of color, and our unawareness of such issues increases the power of white supremacy. Thus, it perpetuates the mis-education that we receive in our homes, schools, and through various messages in our daily lives. To address the problem of white supremacy and the internalization of racial inferiority/superiority, we must be willing to critically examine our society and the individual lives that dwell within it. This work is a model of such efforts.

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