Empowering Black Girls: Monique Lane
Excerpt reposted from TC Today Spring/Summer 2015 Issue
Growing up in South Los Angeles, Monique Lane wished for a teacher who understood the trials of being black, female and serious about learning in a big, inner-city high school. She attended UCLA, where she discovered critical social theories that helped her better understand and articulate her experiences. “I decided I wanted to teach at my old high school and be the educator I’d wished for,” recalls Lane, now a Minority Postdoctoral Fellow at Teachers College.
Back at her alma mater, Crenshaw High School, Lane launched Nubia, a two-year initiative through which 28 young women (and three young men) met weekly to read black feminist literature and discuss pressing issues in their lives.
“These girls felt negatively positioned by the school’s curriculum and disrespected by many of their male peers,” she says. Each week, Lane held students accountable through a kind of tough, motherly love. “Using literature helped them challenge common stereotypes of black femininity, and most important,position themselves as agents of change. You’re offended by the portrayal of black females in hip-hop and rap culture? Well, how might you stand up against that?” Lane returned to UCLA to write a doctoral dissertation on her program’s impact on identity development and orientation to school. Soon she will publish some of her findings in a chapter in Black Feminism in Education: Black Women Speak Back, Up & Out, edited by Venus Evans-Winters and Bettina Love.
“There’s so little out there to counteract the negativity urban youth encounter in school,” Lane says. “What we did has implications for how to make teaching and learning in traditional spaces a more humanizing experience.”