A Narrative Inquiry of Black Leader Self-Determination for Urban Food Justice: A Critical Race Theory Perspective
Bass, Robert Tyrone
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Leaders within the black community are among the most important assets for black people in America. Given all that black Americans have experienced and still endure from social, economic, and political disenfranchisement, it is necessary to explore the values, beliefs, experiences, and practices of current leaders or those organizing for food justice with youth in black communities. This research explored the experiences of self-determination and empowerment of African American community organizers and educators, providing communitybased educational opportunities to youth. It also sought to understand the values, beliefs, and experiences of the participant leaders pertaining to community empowerment, youth development, and food justice. A critical race theory (Bell, 1987; Crenshaw, 1989; Delgado and Stefancic, 2012) lens was utilized to conduct a narrative analysis of 10 black leaders in the Triad area of North Carolina. The researcher inquiry involved a narrative interview, using narrative inquiry practices (Saldana, 2016) that were both audio and visually recorded. Narrative inquiry is a methodological tool for capturing and co-interpreting the personal stories of people, their personal experiences and their interpretations (Clandinin, 2007). A narrative videography was developed to reach a wider audience and include the direct experiences of black leaders. Upon completion of the data-collection process, the leaders were brought together to view the video and discuss excerpts from their narratives in a single focus group. The study itself explored each leaders' views on what food justice looks like in their community, how self-determination influences their approach to black youth development for food justice, and their experiences of racial and micro-aggressive barriers to their work. It was found that the participants were very knowledgeable about what they needed to secure food justice in their communities. It was also found that the leaders often experienced racism and sometimes it was internalized racism, which often led them to the work with black youth empowerment and community food justice.
General Audience Abstract
African Americans have been among the most disenfranchised and marginalized populations in American history (Anderson, 2001). Although today is not as physically reflective of this as the days of slavery and post-slavery Jim Crow, racism is still as pervasive now as it was then, (Alexander, 2010). Critical Race Theory is the theoretical lens of this study thought it is primarily utilized in modern law to understand the presence of race discrimination in the decision making of court officials (Dixson & Rousseau, 2006). This research was a narrative inquiry exploration to understand the experiences of self-determination and empowerment of African American community organizers and educators providing educational opportunities to youth for food justice. The researcher utilized narrative inquiry as methodology in a community-based context to explore the perceptions and attitudes of African American leaders as organizers and educators in the Triad area of North Carolina as they pertain to community empowerment, youth development, and food justice. Using a critical race theory lens, each of the 10 adult participants had been identified as an asset to the black community regarding agriculture and youth empowerment practices. They were then interviewed after consent to audio and visual recording. Influenced by the Whole Measures for Community Food Systems (Abi-Nader et. al, 2009), interview questions were developed and applied to highlight the values and beliefs associated with a just community food system, efforts to counter unjust food access and the racism within it. Participants were asked to contribute to a single collective focus group discussing various excerpts from their narratives. Findings support that each participant was knowledgeable of the food justice issues and what was needed to create it in the communities they worked. Participants expressed several themes related to critical race theory, critical pedagogy and community food work.
- Doctoral Dissertations