Intersecting Selves: African American Female Athletes’ Experiences of Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Jenny Lind WithycombeWithycombe Consulting

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Stereotypes have the power to dynamically structure African American female athletes’ oppression (Buysse & Embser-Herbert, 2004; Kane, 1996), for example, by trivializing their athletic efforts (Douglas, 2002). The purpose of this paper was to examine how African American women athletes experience such stereotypes. Drawing from Collins (1990) and Crenshaw’s (1991) work on intersectionality, data were gathered from eight African American female athletes regarding their sport experiences. Qualitative analyses revealed two major themes: Gendered Stereotypes and Racial Stereotypes. Findings suggested that complex intersections of these stereotypes significantly impacted African American female athletes’ sport experiences. It is concluded that future research should explore in greater depth the sexist, racist, and classist incidences of African American female athletes’ experiences at all levels of sport participation.

Withycombe is Executive Director of Withycombe Consulting in Portland, Oregon.

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