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A New Narrative: A Womanist Framework for Identity Formation and Self-recovery

Tracey S. Stringer

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Black women in America living in a White male-dominated patriarchal, capitalistic, misogynistic society are often forced to live on the margins as a shadow of themselves. They have learned the art of dissemination and acculturation causing them to shift and code switch as they seek to meet the needs of those in their life, without attending to their own needs. They have learned to wear the armor or mask of the Strong Black Woman, as a survival mechanism that has often led to the loss of identity and sense of self.

The armor of the Strong Black Woman is negatively impacting the mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational well-being of Black women. These five areas of well-being are often overlooked not just by dominant culture but also by Black women and those within their community. Black women need a new modality that moves from surviving to thriving as they navigate the complexities and consequences of race, class, and gender in their daily lives and on their well-being. This project utilized a variety of methods to journey with Black women on their identity formation and self-recovery process in forming a new narrative.

Part One of this paper will examine the historical context of race, class, and gender in Los Angeles County. It will also look at the ways Black women sought communal well-being and were portrayed by others. Part Two will provide an overview of controlling narratives and the impact they have on Black women. It will also provide an overview of womanist methodology, theology, and recovery models used that will be useful resources for Black women in forming a new narrative. Part Three of this paper will discuss the New Narrative project design and implementation. It will also look at areas of improvement and next steps.