Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education

By Vanessa Sheared; Peggy A. Sissel et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 15

African-American Women of Inspiration

Angela Humphrey Brown

After years of teaching mathematics, I have come to believe that my culture, race, and gender—I am an African-American woman—have provided me with experiences in the classroom that are different from most of my colleagues’ experiences. Most of my colleagues are either White and/or male, and for the most part have had very different life experiences. While I had come to an understanding about the differences that my colleagues and I had, I was convinced that there must be others that had experiences like mine. So, I began my quest. Given that I was engaged in the teaching of adults, and had been taught to believe that adult education was an area in which those who were marginalized were represented, I began to examine the literature to see how others like me were represented. To my disappointment, I found little if any of my experiences represented in the adult education literature. Ironically, this literature base tended to treat adult educators as a monolithic group, and it failed to acknowledge in any depth that African Americans, let alone African-American women adult educators, enter into and are treated quite differently because of their race, culture, or gender. While no malice was intended, the lack of attention to groups or people of color has tended to render them invisible, not only in the literature, but more importantly, in the classroom. Most importantly, I discovered through this journey that the reason I felt alone and invisible was not an illusion. I felt invisible because for years the voices of those who looked like me were not represented in the literature, nor in the academy.

This chapter attempts to give voice to the silent. It is a journey into the lives of women like me, women who went before me and laid the groundwork for others to enter into the academy and engage in the discourse and dissemination of knowledge. So, I began talking to other African-American women educators about this and discovered that there were many similarities in our stories. This

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