Educational Studies (General Education)
School of Education
Gretchen G Generett
Rick R McCown
Mary Beth Gasman
Timothy L. Smith Sr.
Blackness, Black Queer, Construct, Deviance, Interest Convergence, Resistance
This portraiture project, incorporating auto-ethnographic elements, investigating how African American educational systems became systems of oppression faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth of color, intentionally blends artist in creative glance with researcher in systemic inquiry and knowledge gathering (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Hoffman-Davis, 1997; Ellis et al., 2011).
An aspiring African American, gender non-conforming, lesbian leader is an auto-ethnographic portraiture exemplar: a counter-narrative of transcending obstacles overshadowing accessing college, graduate school, career success in education; doctoral ambitions with audacity within classes of pervasive racism, heterosexism and homophobia. Parallel instances of critical confrontations in predominantly Black secondary schools and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) exposed LGBTQ youth of color consequently unprepared and obstructed from college access. Parallel instances of critical confrontations in predominantly Black secondary schools and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) exposed LGBTQ youth of color consequently unprepared and obstructed from college access.
My story, a "text of diverse interdisciplinary praxes," (Spry, 2001, p.710), sketched themes, recreated images with words, interpreted meaning behind observations and insights to understand college access lacking for LGBTQ youth of color providing privileges I currently enjoy; and looked at systemic examples of change. I narrated, collected and traced my reality of events; examined an interview; interpretations; behaviors; words from schooling experiences, attempting "meaning-making" (Lyle, 2009), studying converging themes and relationships. Additionally, the data refuted speculations and confirmed misperceptions. These complimentary approaches synthesized LGBTQ youth of color outcomes.
Resulting insights included the value of scholarly inquiry into "lived experience" reflecting others' realities, guiding future engagement; key leadership role and identity discovery, and challenging recognition of personal positionality and privilege. Essential images and concepts illuminated shared experiences of battling a "degenerating sense of nobodiness" (King, n.d.) in multiple constructions of exclusion, isolation, oppression; ongoing transformation in the "Process of Becoming" (Lyle, 2009). Methodological systemic inquiry into epistemology, insight behind constructs, designed this auto-ethnographic portraiture; evoking reflection, redefining agency. Seeing beauty and finding "cool" in Black queer me, despite internalizing prevalent images and observations of White and Black folks alike expressing otherwise, is the struggle. The final stage of interconnectedness pushes against normative blackness situated in deviant resistance. My leadership identity, mobilized to act, teach and model for others, emerged.
Wilkins, T. (2014). The Race for Privilege in Blackness: Transformative Leadership in Traversing Space in Search of Black Queer Cool (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1364