Black Girls and Critical Media Literacy for Social Activism

By McArthur, Sherell A. | English Education, July 2016 | Go to article overview

Black Girls and Critical Media Literacy for Social Activism


McArthur, Sherell A., English Education


Centering Black girls' lived experience through critical media literacy can teach critical thinking and interrogation and enables Black girls to negotiate visibility by counternarrating racist, sexist, and classist media narratives with authentic stories of Black girlhood. As Kellner and Share (2005) emphasize, "Coming to voice is important for people who have seldom been allowed to speak for themselves, but without critical analysis it is not enough" (p. 371). Students-particularly Black girls-are often disconnected from the curriculum (Evans-Winters, 2005). As educators it is our responsibility to connect students' histories, stories, and lived experiences in classroom settings so they can identify, deconstruct, and problematize the complexity of power relations operating in society, specifically through media.

The goals of critical media literacy practices are to upset the dominant discourse about individuals and groups of people who contribute to oppressive relationships (Kellner & Share, 2007; Luke, 2000), emphasizing the questioning of social norms. When engaged in critical media literacy, students are taught to interrogate texts, question myriad oppressive social structures, and unpack and analyze how stereotypes and prejudices are communicated through media (Scharrer, 2015; Yosso, 2002). In this article, I draw on my own experiences as an African American woman who is a former elementary classroom teacher and co-creator and co-facilitator of a critical media literacy collective for Black girls in advocating for critical media literacy in English education classrooms to empower youth toward social activism. I unpack critical media literacy and how it can be espoused to encourage activism, show examples of programs that center Black girls in media literacy for social activism, and provide English educators practical examples of how to employ critical media literacy in their classrooms. I begin with a historical context of Black women's activism as a tradition that Black girls can continue today.

Historical Context: Black Women's Activism

Men of eminence have mostly risen from obscurity; nor will I, although a female of a darker hue, and far more obscure than they, bend my head or hand my harp upon willows; for though poor, I will virtuous prove.

-Maria W. Stewart, What If I Am a Woman?

Historically, Black women have spoken truth to power in various forms of media. Known as the first Black woman political writer (Richardson, 1987), Maria W. Stewart was a social activist and lecturer who spent her life advocating for the more complete representation, education, and civil rights of Black people, particularly of African American women. She advocated for Black women to know themselves and engage with politics and social activism. Black women's active resistance to racism and sexism was central to her platform, and these ideas rang through the public address, What If I Am a Woman? In this address, delivered in 1833 to the free Black community in Boston, she spoke to the struggles she carried as a Black American woman as well as to her inner strength, which was the basis of her hope as an activist. She spoke vehemently about the rights of women and of her refusal to give up or "bend her head" in the movement toward justice and righteousness. Instead, she proclaimed that she would virtuously demonstrate her stance. During this time and throughout her political writings, she boldly encouraged other Black women to do the same by cultivating their minds through developing their highest intellectual capabilities to be sociopolitical participants in society. This, she felt, would give them the tools to resist oppressions and the typecast image of the subservient woman (Richardson, 1987).

Although Stewart was one of the first pioneers of social activism, she was not alone in her quest for a better society. She was a part of a rich lineage of Black women activists who used their voices and literacy practices for social change. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Black Girls and Critical Media Literacy for Social Activism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.