Sondra Bickham Washington, Ph.D.

I can remember the first time I seriously considered the plight of black girls in literature. Of course I noticed them previously, but initially, their presence or absence in texts made no significant difference to me or my scholarship.

Then, a few years ago, I re-read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and really contemplated young Celie and the very specific struggles she faces due to her age, societal positionality, and abusive circumstances. As a literary scholar, this awareness led me on a quest to locate other books and articles depicting or discussing these “most vulnerable, most undescribed, not taken seriously little black girls [who] never existed seriously in literature,” as Toni Morrison perceived them prior to writing The Bluest Eye. Then, with input from other scholars across the country, I began compiling a reading list highlighting black female children and adolescents as an open-access resource to support and encourage broader consideration of such characters. As I completed my dissertation work, I also wrote blog posts noting various literary depictions of black girlhood, and I announced upcoming academic conference and events, which might be useful to people interested in this emerging field.

Over time, as various members of the academic community embraced these endeavors and as my research evolved, I realized the need to expand The Black Girlhood Project’s scope to address the interdisciplinary need of a networking and information sharing hub for scholars and researchers in black girlhood studies. Therefore, with my doctoral studies complete and as I embark on my career as an assistant professor, I am revamping and expanding The Black Girlhood Project. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.

Be sure to subscribe to the blog for updates and announcements. Also, feel free to leave comments and offer texts for the Black Girlhood Project Reading List. You may also propose a blog post on a particular work related to black girlhood and offer suggestions on how the project could be more helpful to other researchers. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.


Sondra Bickham Washington – online CV