Dimensions of oppression in the lives of impoverished black women who use drugs

Liliane Cambraia Windsor, Ellen Benoit, Eloise Dunlap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oppression against Black women continues to be a significant problem in the United States. The purpose of this study is to use grounded theory to identify multiple dimensions of oppression experienced by impoverished Black women who use drugs by examining several settings in which participants experience oppression. Three case studies of drug using, impoverished Black women were randomly selected from two large scale consecutive ethnographic studies conducted in New York City from 1998 to 2005. Analysis revealed five dimensions of oppression occurring within eight distinct settings. While dimensions constitute different manifestations of oppression, settings represented areas within participants' lives or institutions with which participants interact. Dimensions of oppression included classism, sexism, familism, racism, and drugism. Settings included the school system, correction system, welfare system, housing and neighborhood, relationship with men, family, experiences with drug use, and employment. Findings have important implications for social justice, welfare, drug, and justice system policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-39
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Black Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Black women
  • classism
  • oppression
  • poverty
  • racism
  • sexism
  • substance abuse
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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