A qualitative exploration of Black women’s familial socialization on controlling images of Black womanhood and the internalization of respectability politics

Seanna Leath, Lauren Mims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A growing number of scholars have considered how young Black women develop their identities within and against White supremacist ideologies of Black womanhood. The current study offers an analysis of how the ongoing socialization of respectability politics in some Black family contexts can contribute to the vilification of the ‘the wrong type’ of Black girls and women. Using Black feminism as a theoretical and methodological lens, we explored how 33 Black college women (18-24 years) described and interpreted familial socialization messages on ‘poor examples of Black womanhood.’ Four themes, consistent with prior literature on controlling images, emerged: the Gold Digger/Jezebel, the Welfare Queen/Teenaged Mom, the Angry, Black woman, and the Hoodrat/Ratchet Chick. Participants described how these stereotypes of Black women were framed as cautionary tales to avoid during their journey into adulthood. The findings also illuminated how the young women internalized, negotiated, or rejected certain socialization messages, as they worked towards their own self-definitions of Black womanhood. Authors discuss how Black families can resist socialization practices that reinforce classist and misogynistic notions of Black womanhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Family Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Black women
  • family socialization
  • identity development
  • qualitative inquiry
  • respectability politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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