Methods: Forty-three in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with Black women 21 years of age and older who self-reported having had experiences with COVID-19 and racism and self-reported middle-class status based on their education level, income, and occupation. Women were recruited using participant driven sampling methods (snowball sampling), social media outlets such as Twitter, and emailing flyers to various social groups that predominantly served middle-class Black women (e.g., Black female sororities and Black female professional organizations). At the conclusion of each interview, the interviewer elicited the women’s perspectives on experiencing the interview as a participant. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed to explore instances of real-time participant reflexivity.
Findings: Based on their analysis of interview transcripts, the researchers identified turning points during interviews in which participants expressed real-time reflexivity. Based on thematic analysis of interview turning points that elicited reflexivity, the three main themes that emerged are 1) feeling seen and heard, 2) “I feel like I can breathe,” and 3) “no one ever asked me.”
Conclusion and Implications: Findings reveal that study participants experienced a sense of relief, validation, and affinity for the interviewer because they felt seen and heard. Most literature has placed researchers as the focus of discussions on reflexivity. When qualitative researchers fail to center the voices of participants, we can miss key opportunities on what participants are experiencing. Our results indicate that adopting a non-threatening, therapeutic, appreciative, and learning stance can facilitate real-time reflexivity among participants. Further research is needed on understanding and identifying interviewing techniques that facilitate participant reflexivity in order to bring participant-researcher equity into the qualitative interviewing process.