Black Female Students and the Spectacle of Risk
This chapter discusses another well-known trope: the urban, Black, adolescent girl, as portrayed both in teacher narratives and films, as well as in mainstream College Preparatory Academy discourse. At College Preparatory Academy, the student population is primarily female (72 percent) and African American (81 percent). This chapter profiles three students whose circumstances, histories, personalities, and aspirations complicate mainstream ideas of the at-risk urban student. The school’s heavy-handed image management, “professionalization,” and marketing of its students not only furthers many of the deficit-based stereotypes found in mainstream films and teacher narratives; its marketing techniques depend upon and further social inequality by promising opportunities for students’ upward mobility with the help of a sufficient amount of private funding. This chapter shows how students’ perspectives and experience trouble this trope. It begins with a critique of the “ideal-type” African American, urban, adolescent girl in movies and literature, and uses the case studies of College Preparatory Academy students to critique the abstracted models of Black, urban, adolescent girls that are perpetuated both by College Prep’s marketing and by mainstream narratives about urban schools, like Freedom Writers (LaGravenese 2007) and Dangerous Minds (J. Smith 1995).
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