Learning to Resist: Educational Counter-Narratives of Black College Reentry Mothers

Apr. 02, 2013

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 115 Number 4, 2013


The purpose of this study was to examine the schooling experiences of five Black college reentry mothers.

This study also aimed to explicate the ways in which the participants theorize and make meaning of the complexities of their lives, particularly in regard to the intersections of race, college reentry, and motherhood.

Research Design
The current study is part of a larger study which investigated the influence Black women's college reentry had on their lives and their daughters’ educational choices.
The study reported in this article, then, includes data from individual interviews with the five mothers from the original study as they focus on their college reentry experience and motherhood.

Contrary to what some researchers assert about schools not providing welcoming spaces for Black women to develop an optimistic sense of self, the reentry mothers in this study viewed college enrollment as a crucial step toward positive self-definition.

The participants believed their college reentry served as counterpoint to the three stereotypes about Black mothers discussed in this article: the mammy, the matriarch, and the welfare mother/welfare queen.


The counter-narratives these mothers offered to the three stereotypes suggest that there are psychological barriers to their academic success: fear of belonging, self-doubt, fear of marginalization, racism, sexism, negative stereotyping.

Updated: Feb. 26, 2013