Just who are we, and how does this knowledge of self affect or influence what we do? Through a very thoughtful exploration of themselves and their “lifework,” the authors in Part IV of Making Space provide us with a glimpse of the ways in which their racial/ethnic, language, gender, and sexual orientation have helped shape their identities. Not only do they offer their life stories, but they share with us the ways in which their individual identities have challenged and shaped their thinking about their practice and lifework. For these authors, it appears that their lifework is an interweaving of who they are, what they call themselves, and what they do, or, as Bingman and White suggest in Chapter 11: “where we live, the way we talk, and the way we feel are highly interconnected,” and interwoven with how one operates within one’s local and global community—that is, within one’s personal life and across borders. Moreover, they challenge us to think about staying in the margins as a way to not only challenge those in the center, but as a way to obtain and maintain power and authority over one’s story, socioeconomics, politics, and culture.
This section begins with an examination by Brown of life stories and lifework of African-American women teachers in Chapter 15. Through the use of an Africentric feminist analysis, Brown explores the life stories of two African-American women teachers, as well as her own life story as a teacher. In spite of the adversities in these women’s lives, and being treated differently by their students as a result of their race, gender, and class, these women have overcome the difficulties and have been able to impart to their students a spirit and desire for learning. By giving voice to the life histories and lived experiences of these women, Brown hopes to “challenge the myths and untruths established about African Americans and African American women,” teachers and learners in particular. Through her voice, as well as that of Septima Clark and bell hooks, we begin to see the ways in which one’s identity and understanding of it helps shape or influence one’s practice. In the case of African-American women, the