Meanings of Ebony: Politics and Black self-identification Among college women on predominately White campuses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Barbara Applebaum


Black women in higher education, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, And higher education, Black students, Women students, Predominantly White

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Women's Studies


This study investigates how female student members in campus organizations for women of color discuss black self-identification and their understandings of race, ethnicity, and gender. Through qualitative research and a framework that employs postpositivist realism and intersectionality, the study examines how the women's interpretations of their race, ethnicity, and gender factor into their black political identification. The dissertation attends to the limitations of ethnocentric, masculinist meanings of black and the ways in which intra-racial gender and ethnic differences, when framed in non-intersectional ways, are depoliticized and misperceived as counter-productive threats to racial solidarity. While addressing the need to centralize the significance of gender and ethnicity within meanings of black, this study helps to situate black racial justice as contingent upon gender justice and recognition of oppression as interlocking. The study also illuminates the central role that framing plays in understanding and dismantling interlocked systemic domination. Implications for higher education are discussed.


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