Dissertation Oral Defense

Date & Time: Dec 08th 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: 110 Kellogg Hall

Abstract: This multi-article dissertation employs life history interviews and qualitative media content analysis to explore the continued oppression of and discrimination against Black women in the U.S., with specific foci of everyday experiences, news media, and popular music in the public sphere. Analysis suggests that the structured and historical relations of patriarchy and racism shape not only everyday life for many Black women, but also affect media representations, and the interpretation of their actions in interpersonal and public spheres. Despite their long-term confrontation with subjugation, Black women, continue to employ strategies to identify, navigate, and resist such oppression.

Each chapter in the project employs a different lens on these experiences. The first focuses on media representations, employing qualitative content analysis of online news articles surrounding the fate of Korryn Gaines and Rekia Boyd -- two Black women who died in encounters with police. Drawing on the work of Neely (2015), Winfrey-Harris (2015), Harris-Perry (2011), and Hill Collins (2000), this article links media disregard of Black women to their victimization by police. The second article examines Beyoncé Knowles’ video album, Lemonade in light of enduring Black feminist intellectual and musical traditions. The discussion is informed by Angela Davis’ (1998), articulation of Black feminist underpinnings and working-class women’s consciousness in blues music. Finally, the third article draws on twenty-one life history interviews conducted by the author with young Black women to illuminate the ways that racism, sexism, and classism impact the everyday lives of Black women in the contemporary U.S. Conclusions suggest while US society continues to depict and treat Black women in oppressive ways, Black women maintain traditions of resistance, as means of survival, empowerment and collective affirmation.