"We Should Get More Opportunity to Speak Up": Exploring Middle School Black Girls Lived Experiences with Disproportionate Exclusionary School Discipline
Black girls are disproportionally represented in exclusionary school discipline, yet their experiences often go silenced and understudied (Collins, 2000; Epstein et al., 2017; Morris, 2007; Zimmermann, 2018). The purpose of this study was to examine the racialized and gendered exclusionary discipline experiences of middle school Black girls across socioeconomic status and explore how sista' circles serve as counterspace to schools. This qualitative research utilized a cross-case and sista' circle methodology. Data collection included three individual semi-structured interviews with two participants and five sista' circles with three participants. Monique's case revealed the following four themes: manifestations of ADHD, respect, surveillance, and race. Gloria's case revealed the themes of relationships with her peers and administrators and the consistency of rules and practices. A cross-case analysis of the girls' experiences, with consideration of their socioeconomic status identified the following four themes: (a) Importance of relationships, (b) respect versus disrespect: matching energy, (c) surveillance and silence, and (d) racial awareness. The findings also indicated that sista' circles served as counterspace for the participants by encompassing the three challenging processes of counterspaces identified by Case and Hunter (2012): narrative identity work, acts of resistance, and direct relational transactions. The results of this study led to implications in the areas of policy, leadership practice, and future research.