The Black Scholar Logo

Call for Papers for Special Issue of The Black Scholar
Beyond Borders: Black Girls and Girlhood

For its 50th anniversary, The Black Scholar is issuing a call for papers on Black girls and girlhood in the US, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and other spaces in the diaspora, including where English is not the first language. This global reach should show the range of the lives of Black girls, including their racialized childhood. It may incorporate where their lives intersect with other girls of color, while also understanding that Black girls constitute a specific and distinct category within the broader definition of girls of color or non-white girls.

In the last few years, we have seen an exciting movement to center Black girls in the US. From 2015 to 2016, the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research was created by a national coalition of institutions of higher education, research, advocacy, and practice with a commitment to supporting and advancing research addressing the lives of women and girls of color. In March 2016, the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls was announced, the first ever caucus devoted to advancing public policy that eliminates the specific disparities facing Black girls and women. And in 2017, Peter and Jennifer Buffet of the NoVo Foundation put out a call for letters of inquiry from community-based organizations working directly with girls of color to build sisterhood and connection and to address the structural barriers faced by girls of color. NoVo is investing an unprecedented $90 million over seven years.

This movement in the sphere of activism and public policy is matched by a growth in scholarly as well as cultural work surrounding Black girls and girlhood. Writings like Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century, by Nazera Sadiq Wright (US), Comme un million de papillons noirs (Like a Million Black Butterflies) by Laura Nsafou (France), Black Girls Magazine, edited by Annette Bazira-Okafor (Canada), and others have added to the growing global commitment to Black girlhood itself as well as using it as a lens through which to explicate relationships of experience, knowledge, intimacy, and power.

Submission may include but are not limited to the following questions:

  • What are some of the ways Black girls lack girlhood, or how is girlhood itself differently modulated in anti-black contexts?
  • What are some of the psychological and social implications for how Black mothers raise Black girls?
  • What is Black Girl Magic?
  • Is there a relationship between the movement for Black girls in the US and Black queer and/or trans and gender nonconforming?
  • What are some of the systemic and structural barriers facing Black girls?
  • What are some of the youth development practices that empower Black girls?
  • What are some of the challenges faced by grassroots organizations addressing the struggles and challenges of Black girls?
  • How is it different for Black girls living at the intersection of multiple identities such as race, language, a distinct culture and/or ethnicity, and sexuality?
  • Is there a need for Black girls to build solidarity with other girls of color?
  • How do Black girls fit into the Movement for Black Lives?
  • How can Black girls be taught to harness their political power so that they can wield it as Black women at the ballot box?

Submission consists of the following two parts:

First, a 200-word abstract must be submitted and is due no later than June 1, 2019. Authors will be notified by mid-June whether their abstract has been accepted. Please submit abstracts to Shireen Lewis at

Second, once invited to submit a full article, the deadline is December 1, 2019. Full submission should range in length from 3,000-6,000 words. Word count must include notes and images (images count as 200 words each). Please format per Chicago Manual of Style—endnotes only, no works cited/bibliography. Because we strive for a public, Black/Africana Studies and interdisciplinary space of intellectual exchange, we discourage highly specialized or professional language and encourage open, argumentative work that is well written. Strive for an essayistic tone and target your submission to an engaged, informed but general audience. TBS’s submission guidelines can be found here. Any submission that does not adhere to the guidelines stated in this CFP and on TBS’s website will be sent back to the author and may be rejected.

If you are interested or would like to discuss the project in more depth, please feel free to contact Shireen Lewis at

CFP – Special Issue of The Black Scholar: Black Girls and Girlhood