Making Fun: How Urban Black Girls Craft Identity

Making Fun: How Urban Black Girls Craft Identity

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This ethnography explores embodied fun among urban, Black, middle school-aged girls participating in a social group they called the Millennium's Finest Girls Club (MFGC). Aiming to illuminate a population otherwise quite invisible to social science, this girl-centered research explores identity and agency in girls' own terms and as practiced in contexts that are relatively unstructured by adult authority (e.g. qhanging outq and qjust having funq). Such inquiry required methodological approaches that yielded particular challenges and rewards; these are described in this dissertation both technically and reflexively. Faced with burdensome challenges (e.g. violence, harassment, financial strain, boredom, family tensions, gangs, drug use, and incarceration), the MFGC girls engage fun activities as rich opportunities to craft identities, fortify resilience, and provide caring support for one another. While studies diagnose an epidemic of self-esteem crises among middle-class White girls who internalize adversity as self-blame, the MFGC girls demonstrate quite the opposite, externalizing adversity and projecting confidence in their own virtues (traits they deem good in themselves and useful as cultural capital). While the MFGC girls typically lack a sense of efficacy about external circumstances, they relish their own agency as crafters and performers of their internal selves. They express a sense of power in determining qwho I amq much more than in determining qwhat happens to me.q Therefore, the girls invest deeply in enjoying, constructing, conveying and protecting the self, rather than investing in efforts to control, avoid, transcend or even understand external hardships. Through fun---especially as practiced in play, humor, music, dance, and talk---the MFGC girls joyfully entertain one another and also assert and challenge notions of self and agency. Creatively improvising upon traditions of African American expressive culture and hip hop culture, the MFGC girls not only qthinkq their own qtheory, q but dance it, sing it and laugh it.But the person they call Redbone is this girl, despite the fact that at least two of the six Black girls here today are much fairer ... in the South calls her; because apparently her family is darker than she is and shea#39;s a little bit lighter than her sister.

Title:Making Fun: How Urban Black Girls Craft Identity
Author:Angela Lea Thieman Dino
Publisher:ProQuest - 2007


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