Riché J. Daniel Barnes received her BA in political science from Spelman College, her MS in urban studies from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and her MA and PhD in cultural anthropology, with a certificate in women’s studies, from Emory University. Barnes is the author of Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood, and Community (2016), an ethnographic study of black women’s strategies for family and communal survival, which was considered for an NAACP image award and winner of the Distinguished Book Award for the Race, Gender and Class Section of the American Sociological Association (2017). Barnes previously taught at Spelman College and Smith College, was the assistant dean of social sciences and associate professor of anthropology at Endicott College, and is currently dean of Pierson College at Yale.
Grant Title: “School Choice? Black Women’s Strategic Responses to Public School Education Reform and its Related Challenges”
Abstract: For the last few years, while conducting research on the work and family decisions of the Black middle class and elite in Atlanta, I have also been watching another story unfold. As I talked with the women in my first book, Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood, and Community (2016), I learned, that despite a rhetoric of choice in the current education market, many moms, of all class backgrounds are struggling to find schools that are beneficial to their children’s education. This is not new. Education has become a paramount issue for most Americans. Indeed, it has been called the Civil Rights issue of our time. The current state of school “choice” is of particular concern for Black inner-city communities as public education and home ownership have been key to social class mobility. In this ethnographic project, I focus on one school and its community in Atlanta, Georgia recognizing and explicating the structural, systemic, and political implications of urban education reform, its intersections with housing inequalities, and the public perception of community, school, family, and student “failure.” In this paper, part of the larger ethnographic project, I center the experiences of two Black women to identify and analyze how Black mothers, employ “Black Strategic Mothering,” in their attempts to educate their children, maintain the safety and security of their homes, and improve communal outcomes.