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Babygirl, You've Got This!

Experiences of Black Girls & Women in the English Education System

Bloomsbury Academic

Blackness in Britain series

Bloomsbury Publishing

OUT NOW IN THE UK / US & publication date in Aus / NZ: 21st March 2024

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Photo Credit: Fatima Halidou

Hand model: Amy Orchard King 

About the book....

How do Black girls and women experience education in England? This book explores the educational experiences &  journeys of Black British women graduates & considers the influence of the intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, cultural background & social class on their journeys.

Within educational research about Black students, gender distinctions have been largely absent, male-dominated or American-centric. Due to the lack of attention paid to Black female students, relatively little is known about how they understand & engage with the education system, or the influences which shape their long-term strategies & decision making in order to gain educational 'success'.

Dr April-Louise M. Pennant uniquely documents the entire educational journey - from primary school to undergraduate university level - within both predominantly white (PW) educational institutions, as well as predominantly global majority (PGM) schools, post-16 colleges/sixth forms and universities, in order to examine the various accessibility, financial, social & academic hurdles which Black girls & women face. 

The book, which transforms April-Louise's masters and doctorate research, combines theoretical frameworks such as Critical Race Theory, Bourdieu's Theory of Practice & Black Feminist epistemology, to frame personal accounts of the author & a diverse range of 42 Black British women who are embodied by 7 fictional composite characters. Through analysis of the strategies, choices and decisions made by Black British women throughout their educational journeys, this volume ultimately provides insights into how to navigate the education system effectively & provides alternatives to normalised understandings of educational 'success'.

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Reviews:

Dr April-Louise Pennant has created an innovative, powerful & absorbing monograph that captures the intense complexities Black Girls & Women have to endure in the English Education system to achieve their aspirational goals. Babygirl, You’ve Got This! is a remarkable text of resilience, care, support & determination. It is an uplifting comprehensive analysis of Black Women’s and Girls’ struggles and achievements that are inclusive, assertive & positively challenging – everyone should read this book! Chapter 8, 'Now Is the Time to Overstand!', is a wonderful play on words that exudes a confidence of understanding that is more-than recognition, more-than knowing, it is empowerment, surety, inspiration and wisdom. Dr April-Louise Pennant has delivered a remarkable work of Blackness that navigates the realities of elite privilege locally and globally, exposes racial & gendered inequalities, yet initiates solidarity, affirmation & fortitude.  This is a book of inspiration, academic excellence, & heartfelt achievement.

Professor Tracey Skelton, Associate Professor at National University of Singapore

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Photo Credit: Fatima Halidou  

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Photo Credit: Fatima Halidou  

Reviews:

Babygirl, You’ve Got This! is an absolute must read! Pennant’s prolific study of Black British women’s educational experiences is crafted with courage, care, & commitment to educational transformation. The narrative & image of each woman’s story builds one on the other to generate portals of possibilities into more expansive ways of growing, learning, & being for us all.

Dr Ruth Nicole Brown, Inaugural Chairperson of the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University 

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This important book provides a dynamic account of the experiences of Black girls & women in the English education system. Dr April-Louise M. Pennant braids together an insightful range of research interviews, creative methods, & personal reflections, to powerfully remind readers who is checking for Black girls & women in schools, universities, & beyond.  

Dr Francesca Sobande, co-author of Black Oot Here, writer and senior lecturer in Digital Media Studies at Cardiff University  

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Reviews:

The most interesting & engaging book I have read in a longtime. Written with beautiful precision April-Louise is a wonderful storyteller who brings to life the complex realities - ups and downs - of Black women as we navigate an education system that does not value our presence or nurture our voices.

This book is healing and insightful. April-Louise powerfully illustrates the impact of structural inequalities on Black girls within the English education system whilst offering a guide for survival through the narration of the ‘strength, resilience & power’ Black girls use to get through. A must read for our mothers, daughters, brothers, fathers & sons.

Thank you, April-Louise, for this outstanding contribution to Black Feminist thought. 

Dr Annabel Wilson, Post doctoral research assistant, Kings College London  

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Photo Credit: Fatima Halidou  

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