Florence Bonner, Ph.D.
Rebecca Reviere, Ph.D.
Co- Director

“The African American Women’s Institute"
Howard University
P.O. Box 590492
Washington, D.C.
(202) 806-4556
Fax (202) 8069263

Howard University


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Alienation, Racism, and Sexism at Majority Institutions: Perspectives from Five Black Women.

Black women faculty and administrators at predominantly White institutions often work in hostile environments that may cause them to experience alienation, racism and sexism.  To understand the often complex professional and personal dilemmas faced by Black women faculty and administrators at predominantly White institutions, five African American women at Western Michigan University share their research and perspectives in an essay about: (1) the challenges of doing Black feminist research; (2) the dilemma of training mostly White students to teach in public schools that are increasingly composed of children of color; (3) the marginalization of tenure track faculty artists of color;  (4) experiences organizing Black university employees, and (5) the effects of a Black president on the cultural climate of a predominantly White university.

Cultural Factors Associated with African American Female Adolescent's Intention to Use Male Condoms to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections and Diseases.
Allen, Charlla D.

The issues of teenage pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and infections provide the intersection of social policy and what the Moynihan report developed as a negative social construction of people of color.  Concerns about teen pregnancy and STDs are expressed more frequently and are often more heightened about African American adolescents when compared to their peers of European descendent.  Historically, oppressed children who have experienced poverty, racism and low academic achievement become alienated from the larger society and resources.  This paper examines how the growth and development of the sexually active female adolescents of African descent can be enhanced and concludes with a discussion of what cultural factors are associated with their intention to use male condoms to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STDs.

Strategies for Negotiating Success among Black Women in the Culture of Academe.
Andrews, Adrienne

This paper is based on interviews conducted with African American women who are members of the faculties of selected colleges and universities in the Midwest, South, and New England. Data were collected at various points in time over a ten-year period (1986-1996).  During the interviews, each respondent was asked to describe the most pressing issue she faced as a woman in academe and specifically as a Black woman.  In this paper the focus is on women in the Midwest and the responses to the latter concern (Black and female) in this longitudinal data.  The data provide a more comprehensive picture of this group of women's experiences when compared to the data of the interviewees from the other regions.  The responses reveal the significance of sexism, racism, and classism in their professional and personal lives.  At the time of the first interviews in 1986 and 1987, the women ranged in ages from 35 to 70 and were in various stages of their professional careers. They held positions ranging from non-tenure track instructor to semi-retired full professor.  All names used are pseudonyms.  In my analysis of the interview data I was searching for patterns in their responses to the pressures and stress associated with the "isms" cited above; responses to the bicultural stress (Bell, 1990), as well as for recurrent themes across the interviews.  The women talked specifically about sexism, racism, and classism (in that order) as having the most impact on their ability to perform effectively in their positions.  I discerned two patterns of responses to the bicultural stress associated with the Black women's unique position within the academy in the interview narratives.  The first response was the evolution of what I term "toughness," resilience accompanied by a high level of competitiveness and the adoption of what one woman defined as a loner stance.  The second pattern was the response of collectivity, the formation of support groups, or following Collins (1990), “sisterhoods.”  I elaborate the ways in which the latter strategy reflects a unique culturally-based response to the stressors associated with being Black and female in academe; a response of mutual support and cooperation wherein an individual agency is appropriated in the interest of the collective.

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Having Our Say: Organizational Voice and Professional Women of Color.
Bane, K. Denise

Time and again the popular and academic literature have touted the changing workforce to come.  The workforce will continue to become more diverse as the number of women and people of color grow.  As the percent of professional women of color rises, the need to address the particular concerns of this group will increase as well.  One such area of concern is the extent to which women of color have the opportunity to influence decisions within the organization.  In every aspect of the organization, women of color should feel that their voices are not only heard, but also valued.  In general, workplace procedures that give employees a voice, i.e., input in decision-making are viewed as fairer than procedures that do not.  These perceptions of fairness have far-reaching implications for both the employees and the organization.  When employees have input, they are more likely to feel that the organization values their opinion.  Also, they are more likely to trust their supervisors and to exhibit cooperative behaviors.  In addition, they are more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.  Women of color face a number of unique struggles at work and, as a result, may have different perceptions of voice and fairness.  In this paper, I raise these questions: "Do professional women of color have a collective voice in organizations?"  Participants will be asked to discuss the extent to which women of color have the opportunity to have their point of view considered: (1) in the programs and policies of particular interest to women, including flextime, parental leave, and childcare, (2) in the day-to-day operations of the organization, and (3) in the long term strategic planning of the organization.

Moving to Find a Language of Communication in Dance and Theatre: Song of Sangoma.
Berryman-Johnson, Sherrill; & Roberts, Sybil D.

This presentation discusses the documented field research as tool to investigating the motivation, function, and process by which art is created by indigenous peoples and the relationship of such artistic creation to myth and ritual of the traditional societies.  The research process of “Song of Sangoma” further examines the indigenous sacred performance rituals of Africans throughout the Diaspora as a performance language to address the issue of disappearing cultures and the impact of that phenomena on the “next seven generations.”

The Washington Baltimore Hampton Roads Alliance for Minority Participation Approach to the Integration of Social and Behavioral Science (WBHR AMP-SBS).
Bonner, Florence B.

The partners in this project (Howard University, Hampton University, Morgan State University and University of the District of Columbia) proposed a series of activities over a two-year period to “stream” the social and behavioral sciences, into science, mathematics and engineering curricula.  This was a collaboration between the project funded by the National Science Foundation, Washington Baltimore Hampton Roads Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Mathematics and Engineering (WBHR AMP-SEM).  It included four universities and colleges of the alliance. The Sociology Department at Howard University was the lead institution. 

Activities over a two-year period to collect data, train faculty, identify course offerings and collaborations, build models and implementation into curricula was conducted.  What is presented in the paper reflects the key questions raised an examination of strategies, creation of models for new curricula, obstacles and resources, implementation, and evaluation. 

Departments of chemistry, biology, sociology and anthropology, environmental science, computer sciences, engineering, and political science were engaged.  More than 20 faculty members participated and hundreds of students.  The common threads to connect the four institutions were environmental issues.  Each focused on waterways (rivers and harbors and bays).

Cross-Cultural Comparison of Selected U.S. and Caribbean College Women's HIV/AIDS Related Knowledge, Attitudes, and Risk Factors.
Braithwaite, Kisha

The purpose of this research was to investigate women of color college student's HIV/AIDS knowledge. Additionally, information was sought about attitudes and risks in a cross-cultural context; and about the relationship between these variables and psychological factors (i.e., self-esteem, self-efficacy), sociocultural factors (i.e., religiosity, stigma), and sexual communication.  This study utilized a non-probability sample of 132 women of color college students.  Subsample one comprised 70 African American females attending Howard University, Washington, DC.  Subsample two comprised 62 Caribbean females attending the University of the West Indies (Mona), Kingston, Jamaica.  Respondents were administered the AIDS Knowledge, Feelings and Behavior Questionnaire (Dancy, 1991); Attitudes Towards AIDS Scale (Goh, 1993); 5-D Religiosity Scale (Faulkner & DeJong, 1966); Condom-Use Self-Efficacy Scale (Brafford and Beck, 1991); Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965); Dyadic Sexual Communication Scale (Catania, 1986); and a demographic questionnaire developed by the investigator.  Regarding cultural group differences between African American and Caribbean college women the results of several analyses of variance indicated: (1) African American college women were reportedly more knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS than Caribbean women; (2) No significant differences were found between African American women and Caribbean women HIV/AIDS attitudes; (3) African American women reportedly engaged in less HIV/AIDS risk behaviors than the Caribbean women; and (4) Caribbean women were reportedly more religious than African American women.  Utilizing the Pearson product-moment correlation, several significant relationships were obtained relative to respondents HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes, risk behaviors, psychological variables, and sociocultural variables of interest.  The significance of these findings and implications for cross-cultural research regarding women of color and counseling are discussed.

Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences: Critical Demography.
Brinkley, Christina F.

This paper examines selected demographic analytical approaches and provides a historical review of African American activist and scholars whose legacies of quantitative analysis we have inherited.  In essence three questions are addressed including (1) who are the African American intellectual antecedents?  Critical demography emphasizes research that is specifically grounded in the history, culture, and/or experiences of individuals and/or groups studied.  In doing so it offers a perspective and analytical tool for merging quantitative data with history, culture, and events. The historical and/or noncultural context of quantitative analysis alone has often produced more presumptions than substantive knowledge particularly where women and people of color were/are concerned.  Critical demography can enrich by (1) ending erasure, invisibility and/or silencing of people of color and (2) giving social scientist a more valid context within which to evaluate the nature of questions asked and the conduct of inquiry.  This presentation examines selected demographic analytical approaches and provides a historical review of African American activist and analytical innovators in quantitative analysis in the social sciences? (2) What is critical demography? and, (3) What techniques are particularly useful in a critical, sex-race demographic approach? 

The African American Woman and HIV/AIDS: Epidemiology, Cultural and Psychological Issues, Psychosocial Aspects of Care, Medical and Nursing Management.
Brown, Geraldine 

The approach to understanding the human immunideficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immonudeficiency syndrome (AIDS) must include the African American woman as a person at risk in documented epidemiology, cultural and psychological issues, the psychosocial aspects of care, medical and nursing management (Newman & Wolfsy, 1997).  Approximately 15 years after it was recognized, AIDS continues to spread at a frightening rate.  It is noted that except for a few isolated instances, there have been few successes in slowing the spread of this viral infection.  The impact that a cultural and psychological issue has on persons living with HIV and AIDS is enormous.  These issues involve processes in adjusting and adapting that are important not only because of their centrality to the coping individual but also because they directly affect the successes of treatment and prevention  (Jaccard, Wilson, & Radecki, 1995).  The psychosocial aspects of care to African American women infected with HIV include nurturing the emotional trauma such as guilt, hopelessness, anger and resentment, physical harm, and public rejection that often accompany lifestyle and role changes.  How health care professionals approach the challenging issues facing these women with HIV/AIDS will often be key in management of both client satisfaction of the ability to those clients to follow through with the many treatment demands during the course of illness (Sherr, 1995).  HIV/AIDS is the most dramatic, pervasive and tragic pandemic in recent history.  According to a recent poll, almost 30% of the United States population now believe that the "greatest threat to human life" is AIDS.  Fear and discrimination have affected virtually every aspect across cultures.  Both the medical and nursing challenge, and, in particular, the social challenge will continue in the foreseeable future (Stine, 1988).

It Takes a (Small) Village: Mentoring Black Women in the Academy.
Bowman, Sharon L.; Hill, Stacia D.; & Moagi-Gulubane, Sophie.

This paper discusses mentoring from the perspective of African American and Black international women students, both undergraduate and graduate.  Various issues that may be unique to these women are identified, and the possible effect of racial identity on the mentor and mentee is discussed.  Issues particular to international women students are noted; also noted are issues that may differ for students on predominantly White or predominantly Black campuses.  Finally, suggestions are provided to improve the mentoring process for international and African American women students, including broadening the image of mentor to include Caucasians.

Africana Women's Recovery from Crack Addiction: An Exploratory Investigation.
Buffaloe, Faye

The purposes of this study were to investigate those issues related to recovery of crack-addicted Africana American women and to identify factors essential to the recovery and ongoing abstinence from crack.  Respondents were Africana women who participated in a 12-step program (n-15) for at least one year, and who were willing to participate in the extensive interviews for this study.  Qualitative methodology was used to collect data and conduct in-depth interviews.  Given that the study is exploratory in nature, data were analyzed using frequency analysis.  The results showed that the number one obstacle to recovery reported by the participants was irregular attendance at 12-Step programs.  It was also found that crack-addicted Africana women who actively participated in 12-Step programs had remained in recovery for the first two years.  Recommendations for substance abuse clinicians and further research are presented.