Black Women in the US Academy

  • Talia Esnard
  • Deirdre Cobb-Roberts


Larger discourses and social constructions of Black persons in the US are often framed within social misrepresentations, prejudices, stereotypes, and myths (Christian in Black feminist criticism—Perspectives on Black women writers. Pergamon, New York, NY, 1985; Fox-Genovese in Within the plantation household: Black and White women of the Old South. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1988; Coltrane & Messineo in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 42:363–389, 2000; Smedley & Smedley in American Psychologist 60:16–26, 2005; Scott in The language of strong Black womanhood: Myths, models, messages and a new model for self-care. Lexington Books, London, 2017). To some extent, these knowledge sets stem from ongoing forms of colonization and exploitation; wherein Blacks in the US have been socialized into a system of perceived racial and cultural inferiorities and stereotypical notions of being (DuBois in The education of Black peoples: 10 critiques 1906–1960, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 1973; DuBois in The souls of Black folks. Dover Publications, Mineola, NY, 1994; Helms in An overview of Black racial identity theory, Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT, pp. 9–32, 1993; Woodson in The mis-education of the Negro. Africa West Press, Trenton, NY, 1990). A related argument is that these dominant ideas and socialization practices are fuelled and sustained by more fluid combinations of power-structures that exist in the broader society (Crenshaw in University of Chicago Legal Forum 139:139–167, 1989; Collins in Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge, New York, 2000). The effect of this complex ideological and structural web of influence cannot be underestimated. In fact, Collins (Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge, New York, 2000) contended that as a constellation of knowledge projects, such thinking about Black women, have worked to frame hegemonic ideas as socially scripted frames of reference that inform understanding of selves, and their relative positioning in that contentious space. There is growing evidence of this standpoint in the literature on Black women.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago
  2. 2.University of South FloridaTampaUSA

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