Character Education In and Out of the Classroom: Black Women Middle School Educators Share their Views on Media Images of Black

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Michael Schoonmaker


Stereotypes, Black women, Media images

Subject Categories

Communication | Education | Sociology


A series of stereotypes and distortions in mass media about black women have limited understandings of their womanhood in America. The configurations of black women's stories in these media images also have certain linkages to black women's social experiences. The viewpoints of black women on this phenomenon, in which ideas about their identities are shaped by intersecting social and media forces, have often been left out of academic research. In addition, black women usually are not the primary storytellers in studies about their experiences with mass media. A black feminist standpoint theory lens is utilized in this exploratory phenomenological study to substantiate the importance of including black women's voices in academic research. Through in-depth interviews, fifteen (N=15) black women middle school educators in the northeastern United States share how they make sense of media images depicting black women and situate these perceptions within the contexts of their own experiences, biographies, and positionings in social spaces. The women also provide illustrative stories of the roles they think media images of black women play in their interactions and teaching practices with black adolescent girls in middle schools.

The findings reveal that the educators' social experiences, definitions of their narratives, and viewpoints on the importance of their work with black adolescent girls are connected to mass media images of black women on multiple levels. New insight into the function and significance of media images in the lives of black women is gained.


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