Methods: Undergirded in a theoretical framework comprised of Intersectionality, Black Feminist Thought, and Youth Empowerment, this qualitative study utilized a participatory action approach to create social-emotional development interventions for girls of color in urban settings. Black and Latinx teenage girls and young women participated in focus groups and individual interviews (n=100) to create an interactive journal and podcast targeting teenage girls. Three focus groups (n= 25 per focus group) were facilitated at one Chicagoland high school with girls across all grade levels, an alternative high school program, and a university with undergraduate students to identify key themes and topics for the journal. A subsequent focus group (n=15) occurred to solicit feedback from teen girls regarding the first draft of the journal. Semi-structured interviews (n=10) with teen girls and young women ranging from 13-23 were conducted to determine topics for the podcast.
Results: Findings from focus groups for the journal revealed that Black girls believed their gendered experience living in the inner-city is more difficult than those of Black boys in the same family or community and White girls who live in suburban areas. Key topics identified for the journal centered around identity, self-esteem, communication, relationships, emotional wellness, peer pressure, sexuality, and community. Similarly, the girls who provided feedback on the journal found all of the topics to be relevant to their lived experiences. Additional themes emerged for the podcast and included grief, school stress, religion, intimate partner violence, and growing up in the foster care system.
Conclusions: Efforts to incorporate the voices and experiences of Black girls are essential in the development of effective interventions. Black girls, themselves, should be positioned as experts sharing their knowledge, which requires a willingness and principled stance to create a safe space by casting away remaining power dynamics that linger in co-creating relationships. The process in this study of developing a safe space and equalizing roles for Black girls has many implications for program development and the creation of interventions for this understudied special population.