Chicago African American mothers' power of resistance: Designing Spaces of Hope in global contexts

Ruby Mendenhall, Taylor Imani A. Linear, Malaika W. McKee, Nicole A. Lamers, Michel Bondurand Mouawad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black feminist scholars describe resistance as Black women's efforts to push back against ideologies and stereotypes that objectify them as the other. The contested sites are often neighborhoods, schools, the media, corporations, and government agencies. W. E. B. DuBois and Audre Lorde both spoke about a dual consciousness among Black women, and the larger Black population, that included the power of self-definition. This particular study centers the lived experiences of African American women living in Englewood, a neighborhood with high levels of violence in Chicago. Using data from 93 in-depth interviews, this study illustrates Black mothers' efforts to resist ideologies and stereotypes about their mothering, beauty, socioeconomic status, etc. This study also centers their voices and lived experiences to capture the power they express by engaging in self-definition. Self-definition includes descriptions of themselves, their current situations and the changes they would like to see in their neighborhoods and the larger U.S. society. This chapter ends by discussing the implications of the findings in relation to two programs developed to help these mothers work toward neighborhood change called DREAM (Developing Responses to Poverty through Education And Meaning), and De.SH(ie) (Designing Spaces of Hope (interiors and exteriors)), a collaborative which seeks to remedy the paradoxical existence of spaces of hope and spaces of despair through an innovative approach that melds Architecture, African American Studies, Sociology, and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-428
Number of pages20
JournalAdvances in Education in Diverse Communities: Research, Policy and Praxis
StatePublished - 2017


  • African American women
  • Lived experience
  • Mothering
  • Resistance
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Anthropology


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