Brilliant Black girls: middle school mathematical experiences of triumph, success, and resilience



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The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of adolescent Black girls in an accelerated mathematics program, thus providing a voice to one population that is often silenced. Using a qualitative methodology and more specifically, individual and focus group interviews, we listened to 11 brilliant Black girls and examined their written memories. This methodology provided an in-depth look at the pressures associated with their dual marginalization. Interviews and collective memories showed that the participants often were unaware of how or why they were selected for advanced mathematics coursework and they valued the opportunities that prepared them for their future. Therefore, this study advocates for transparency in the advanced mathematics placement criteria, eliminating intellectual brutality, and instituting practices starting at the elementary level to encourage Black girls to get ahead in order to provide ways to dismantle systems of oppression. This research found that there are protective factors that equipped the participants to be successful in environments that, based on research, have not been designed to support their growth in the area of mathematics. As the final focus, this study elaborate on a concept of educational brutality that limits or mutes the voices of stakeholders in correcting the wrongs committed against students in education. Through integrated concepts of Intersectionality and Mathematical Socialization, this study illuminates the histories associated with mathematical power and examines avenues to position educators and other stakeholders as advocates for brilliant mathematicians who are Black and female.

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Black Girls, Advanced Mathematics, Intersectionality, Mathematics Socialization, Advocacy, Protective Factors, Irrevocable Instructional Violence