On February 15th, we presented a peer-reviewed paper titled, Black Women Students, Activism, Empowerment, and Everyday Fashions in Predominantly White Spaces During the Black Lives Matter Movement Era, 2013-2019 at Columbia College Chicago.
Abstract: Throughout history, Black women have used everyday dress as a form of resistance to oppression and as a means for empowerment (Ford, 2015). In this research-in-progress, we examine how Black identity, activism, and/or experiences with empowerment are negotiated through everyday dress by Black women college students living in Iowa in predominantly white spaces during the Black Lives Matter era from 2013 to 2019. Examining Black college women’s experiences in predominantly white spaces is important because of the historical connection between U.S. colleges and Black empowerment as numerous Black empowerment movements started in these spaces or by college-aged people (Morgan & Davies, 2012; Zinn, Cohen, & Walker, 2018). To achieve our purpose, we conducted in-depth wardrobe interviews with a photo- and garment-elicitation component (Joy & Number, 2017; Woodward, 2007) with 15 Black women. Interview questions include topics on everyday dress as it relates to campus-space safety, pride in Black identity, and politics and activism. Grounded theory guided our analysis, where we will identify new contextualized theories (Willig, 2013). The research culminated in a mounted exhibition in a 500 square foot gallery opening February 3, 2020. Themes for the exhibition were built around loaned objects from the interviewees. Sharing the research in a public exhibition continues modern-day resistance work by educating the public about the past and current Black woman’s experience and allows Black women a voice and ability to self-define (Collins, 2009). A virtual representation of the exhibition will be shared.
Collins, P. H. (2009). Black feminists thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York, NY: Routledge.
Ford, T. C. (2015). Liberated threads: Black women, style, and the global politics of soul. New York, NY: The University of North Carolina Press.
Joy, P., & Numer, M. (2017). The use of photo elicitation to explore the benefits of queer student advocacy groups in university. Journal of LGBT Youth, 14(1), 31-50.
Morgan, I. W., & Davies, P. (2012). From sit-ins to SNCC: The student civil rights movement in the 1960s. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
Willig, C. (2013). Introducing qualitative research in psychology. (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: Open Woodward, S. (2007). Why women wear what they wear. Oxford: Berg Publishers.
Zinn, H., Cohen, R., & Walker, A. (2018). Howard Zinn’s southern diary: sit-in’s, civil rights, and Black women’s student activism. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.