My Dissertation

Previous research illustrates racial injustice takes a toll on the psyche and the body. As a result, feelings of shame, hopelessness, and anger that stem from these circumstances must be managed. Drawing from previous scholarship that examines coping strategies among underrepresented and marginalized populations (Lamont, Welburn, and Fleming 2013), my dissertation seeks to examine how Black women work to achieve resilience while navigating detours and pitfalls caused by everyday racism and discrimination. Now that communication technologies make sharing ideas and connecting easier, I examine how Black women have cultivated online communities to share their adaptive strategies and methods of self-care that help them contend with social inequality.

In recent years, Black women have created online communities where they are able to share a range of advice related to seeking therapy and managing emotions, to navigating white workspaces and addressing PTSD from police involved shootings. The discourse of self-care on these sites has the capacity to reveal efforts to encourage relational resilience as measured by the distribution of mutually gratifying stories and strategies that might help other Black women cope with racism/discrimination and assist with facilitating socio-emotional growth.  

I performed a content analysis of two digital wellness platforms, one targeted to Black women and one targeted to a more general audience, to analyze how Black women discuss taking care of themselves. These platforms offer Black women the opportunity engage in relational resilience to tell their truth, be vulnerable about their everyday experiences, and support other Black women. In addition to this content analysis, I also interview Black women about their self-care behaviors.