• GENDERED PASSAGEWAYS IN FREEDOM SCHOOL: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS' JOURNEYS TO WOMANHOOD

      Davis, James Earl, 1960-; Horvat, Erin McNamara, 1964-; Hunt, Portia L.; Cucchiara, Maia Bloomfield; Evans-Winters, Venus E. (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      African American rites of passage (ROP) have historically contributed to adolescent gender socialization enabling Black youth to overcome the effects of racism and oppression. ROP in the schools provide lessons in Black history, traditions, and culture as they guide youth through the turbulent terrain of adolescence via the communal "coming of age" process. This study examined adolescent girls' experiences in weekly ROP classes at Ella Baker Freedom Academy (EBFA) Charter School over the course of one academic year and five months. EBFA is an African-centered Freedom School in a northeastern city in the United States. This study employed ethnographic methods within a Black Feminist/Womanist framework to investigate how rites of passage support adolescent girls' gendered ethnic identity, self-concept, and peer relations. This study fills in gaps in the literature on ROP, focusing on the participants' ROP experiences within the intersections of adolescent identity formation, womanhood and sisterhood empowerment, and culturally relevant gender socialization practices in school. Three major questions guided the study: 1) How ROP classes supported adolescent girls' intersecting and developing gender and ethnic identities; 2) How ROP classes supported students' female peer relations; and 3) How African values were utilized in ROP classes. The study revealed the interconnected ways in which ROP supported participants' developing gender/ethnic identities, and improved peer relationships, conflict resolution strategies, and personal definitions of womanhood. The ROP classes supported students by: a) developing a critical awareness of sexism, internalized oppression; i.e., colorism, negative racial/gendered stereotypes about Black women and girls in U.S. society, particularly those propagated through the media; b) building appreciation, esteem, and respect in themselves and each other; c) cultivating positive academic identities through healthy female peer relationships via critical dialogue, trust building, conflict resolution, and empowering communications; d) developing personal standards for womanhood using African-centered values; and e) revealing gendered passageways to womanhood and sisterhood in intergenerational and emotionally safe spaces, and across school contexts.