I DO NOT WEEP AT THE WORLD: Examining Black Women’s Expressions of Selfhood and the Revolutionary Act of Claiming Experiences and Identity

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Herbert, Nailah Imani
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Middle Tennessee State University
ABSTRACT Black women’s interpretations of popular media are marked by a unique experience that is both racialized and gendered. In this study I explore Black women’s self-defined interpretations of media and literature that portray Black womanhood. Additionally, I consider how Black women’s perceptions of such portrayals affect their impressions about popular media in general. I addressed my research questions by conducting qualitative interviews with fifteen individuals who self-identified as Black women and a small focus group which contained three of the original interviewees. Six distinct themes emerged from this study: the magical Black character, the exotic Black woman, natural and diverse representations, filtering, media distrust, and consequences. The women in my study described their interpretations of popular depictions of Black womanhood in terms of the underlying perceptions that informed these depictions and the effects of these perceptions upon their daily interactions and their relationships with media and literature in general. They perceived these factors as interrelated and typically did not distinguish a fine line between the perceptions about Black womanhood that were encouraged by media and literature and their regularized experiences as Black women.