Everyday Anti-Black Girl Violence: Surviving and Learning Amidst Persistent School Violence Among Middle School Black Girls
Ashley Smith-Purviance

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Recent scholarship suggests there is consensus that something specific exists about Black girls' schooling experiences that warrants necessary attention, yet scholars have not adequately explored how gendered anti-Black violence facing young Black girls should be addressed in theory and in practice. Furthermore, while educational scholarship prioritizes the experiences of high school girls, this study contributes to the underdeveloped literature on middle school Black girls' understandings of their identities and schooling experiences. This qualitative study examines (1) the experiences of Black girls at two predominantly white, suburban middle schools, (2) analyzes systems of schooling and education as social institutions that perpetuate anti-Black violence against Black girls, and (3) how school staff, teachers, administrators and district leaders perceive Black girls and their experiences. Additionally, this research examines youth participant experiences in the Black Girl Magic group, a school-based, identity-centered group facilitated by Black women from the surrounding community, and explores how Black girls use the group to define Black girlhood, and resist and combat daily experiences of racism, sexism and anti-Blackness. Using narrative inquiry and critical ethnographic methods, this study interrogates how Black girls survive the daily racial trauma and anti-Black girl violence they face in predominantly white suburban schools, and challenges myths that greater educational opportunities exist in these contexts. This study warrants the necessary attention to Black girls' voices, ensuring that they are uplifted in order to inform educational research at the intersection of race, gender, and school violence to support implications for more humanizing pedagogical practices in schools.
About Ashley Smith-Purviance
Ashley L. Smith-Purviance is an incoming Assistant Professor in the Departments of African American and African Studies and Women?s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University. Dr. Smith-Purviance?s scholarship critically analyzes how social structures, educational policies, and institutions shape and reproduce harmful inequalities for Black women and girls. At the intersection of state violence and school discipline, her work examines the various forms of punishment, anti-Blackness, and gender-based violence Black girls experience in schools and society. Dr. Smith-Purviance?s research also explores alternative educational spaces, also known as Black girl spaces, created by and for Black girls. As a community-engaged scholar, Dr. Smith-Purviance has co-created various Black girl spaces alongside Black girls and women. Informed by her community-engaged work, her scholarship explores the necessity of Black girl spaces within and outside of schools that center Black girls? exploration and celebration of their identities, moments of joy, and acts of refusal to the harm and violence they often navigate. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Feminist Studies and The Journal of Negro Education. She was also a recipient of the 2019 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and has since received numerous awards for her scholarship and community-engaged work. Dr. Smith-Purviance earned her doctorate in Educational Policy Studies with a minor in Gender and Women?s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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