Dec 15, 2020 | Article, Shireen Lewis

The Black Scholar continues to celebrate the journal’s Fiftieth Anniversary with the release of its latest issue, “Black Girlhood,” which highlights the significance, challenges and beauty of Black girls. There is a growing body of scholarship on the experiences of Black girls, from their representation in the past and present to their lived experiences today. The intersectionality of Black girls’ lives – race, gender, class and age – is a rich opportunity for interdisciplinary scholarship, including Black studies, feminist studies and childhood studies.

This seminal issue is global in focus. It includes work from scholars analyzing representations of Black girls in the protest movement, new media technologies, musical theatre, and popular culture, like the Marvel Universe. It also centers Black girls’ voices about their own girlhood experiences.

Noted scholar Nazera Sadiq Wright opens the “Black Girlhood” issue with the essay, “Black Girl Interiority in Toni Cade Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love.” She argues that Black girls’ points of view and interior thoughts illustrate their involvement in the protest movement, often overlooked by Black Nationalism.

Kiana T. Murphy contributes an essay on the first Black girl superheroine and genius in the Marvel Universe with “Ironheart and the Crisis of Black Girl Representation,” and Jordan Ealey explores representation of Black girlhood in a musical in her essay, “Young, Bubbly, and Black: The Affective Performance of Black Girlhood in Kristen Childs’ ‘The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin.'”

This issue intentionally looks at Black girlhood through a transnational lens since, in the aftermath of the racist murder of George Floyd, we are once again seeing the interconnectedness of the global struggle for Black liberation. Maria Ximena Abello-Hurtado-Mandinga takes us to Colombia in her essay, “Black Girls’ Body: Notes on the Legacy of Colonialism in South America and the Urgency of a Black Liberation Project for Black Girls.” Régine Michelle Jean-Charles’ essay, “Nou pa gen vizibilite: Haitian Girlhood Beyond the Logics of Visibility,” speaks from the perspective of Haiti, the site of “the revolution from below,” the Haitian Revolution, spearheaded by Black enslaved peoples in the Americas.

The issue concludes with an examination of the depiction of Black girlhood in new media technologies. In their essay, “Digital Communities of Black Girlhood: New Media Technologies and Online Discourses of Empowerment,” Maryann Erigha and Ashley Crooks-Allen examine three online discourses: Well-Read Black Girl, Black Girls Rock! and SayHerName.

Lending authenticity to these scholarly essays, this issue includes the voices of Black girls about their own girlhood experiences, including stories about living under COVID-19 and the heightened racism in the U.S. They share their experiences with parental job loss and use of the “n” word in the classroom. These remarkable girls receive support from SisterMentors, a nonprofit program that centers the needs and dreams of women and girls of color in the education system, in the face of deep-seated institutional inequities. With this important addition, the issue connects scholarship and the actual subject of that scholarly work – the Black girl.

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