BROWNGIRL NARRATIVES: EXPLORING COMING OF AGE IN THE GOLDEN ERA OF HIP HOP (1986-1996)
Chae Reddy, Melissa Kim
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&ldquoBrowngirl Narratives&rdquo seeks to gain a clearer understanding of what we can learn from textual evidence about experiences of browngirls coming of age during the post-civil rights Golden Age of Hip Hop (1986-1996) by examining contemporary literature, film, social media and music produced by and about these black women. It is an inquiry into the ways in which browngirls coming of age in the United States negotiated the dominant scripts existing in their lives to craft their own stories. The aim is to utilize an interdisciplinary, black female-centered framework to fully problematize phenomena such as <italic>self-creation<italic>, empowerment, and sexual exploration in the lives of black women coming of age during 1986-1996. This study is an examination of black female <italic>bidungsromane<italic>&mdash black female cultural texts illustrating the coming of age/development processes. Additionally, it is an investigation into what we can learn about the ongoing individuation processes for post-civil rights browngirls by engaging various texts. This project shows pieces of their narrative by examining hidden scripts amongst Ntozake Shange's choreopoem, <italic>for colored girls who have considered suicide| when the rainbow is enuf</italic>; Tyler Perry's feature film adaptation, <italic>For Colored Girls</italic> and the dialogue which surfaced as a result; the life, work and politics of artist Erykah Badu, and; social media texts such as blogs. The selected narrative texts can be unpacked and analyzed using the <italic>bildungsroman</italic> as a lens to view concepts of self-discovery--&ldquotracing the development of complex and multidimensional&rdquo browngirls, exploring &ldquowho she is and how she became that way.&rdquo What do these stories reveal about the journey toward a self-defined identity for browngirls marginalized by race, gender, class and sexuality coming of age in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s? What can the cultural texts tell us about how their experiences growing up during this particular period shape their sense of love relationships, family, community, and the self? The research discloses important overlooked narratives&mdash &ldquomeaningful and endearing stories about their experiences that are not solely focused on heterosexual romance&rdquo&mdashalong with hidden transcripts or subtexts that reveal important phenomena for this particular group of women regarding identity construction, black female representation and sexuality.