Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


African American Motherwork as a Vehicle for Fostering School-Family Partnerships: What Predominantly White Schools Can Learn


Special Education, Foundations and Technology


College of Education

Date Range





This paper presents an investigation of the approaches suburban black mothers in metropolitan Detroit take to promote a positive racial-gender identity in their elementary-age daughters attending a predominantly white school. Analyzed through a sociopsychological framework, African American mothers in this project use a set of strategies that reflect one dimension of feminist theorist Patricia Hill Collins motherwork phenomenon. Three of these strategies are: Presence, Imaging, and Code-switching. Mothers are working extremely hard to ensure the academic success of their daughters by being actively involved schools could capitalize on mothers agency and involvement. Schools should reach out to these mothers by asking them to help better the school culture/climate by making it more inclusive, encourage more African American parents to become involved, and identify the ways schools can better support the motherwork that African American mothers are already doing. Essentially, the school should regard motherwork as one of its greatest resources. This paper concludes with several lessons educators and school administrators could learn from the mothers participating in this study about fostering successful home-school partnerships.

Conference Name

AESA & International Association for Intercultural Education Joint Conference

Conference Location

Toronto, Ontario

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