Dr. Apugo: new book highlights Black girls in schools

Coming-of-age narratives reflect resistance and resilience of “Strong Black Girls”

Danielle Apugo Square 2021
Danielle Apugo, Ph.D. (Courtesy Photo)

Even though Black women and girls are expected to overcome many barriers in order to achieve an education in America, their voices and experiences often go unheard.

A new book, Strong Black Girls: Reclaiming Schools in Their Own Image, co-edited by Danielle Apugo, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the VCU School of Education, aims to change that narrative by amplifying the voices of Black women and girls through their storytelling, essays, letters and poetry.

“As educators, scholars and stakeholders, we must concern ourselves with how Black girls are experiencing the K-12 schooling process in the United States,” said Apugo. “This book highlights the realities of Black women and girls on their educational journeys, while examining the impact of memories, resistance and resilience on K-12 schooling for Black females.”

The book is divided into three primary themes:

  • the insidious nature of silencing Black girls in schools and its consequences;
  • the recognition that Black female bodies are sites of historical trauma and terrorism; and
  • the complexities of the phrase “Black girl magic“ and its identity.

Authors in the book include graduate students, professors, and an elementary school student. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions to extend the conversation around the everyday realities of navigating K-12 schools, such as sexuality, intergenerational influence, self-love, anger, leadership, aesthetic trauma, erasure, rejection and unfiltered Black girlhood.

Co-editors with Apugo on the book are Lynnette Mawhinney, Ph.D., chair and associate professor in the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers University-Newark, and Afiya Mbilishaka, Ph.D., chair and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of the District of Columbia.