Being a deaf woman in college is hard, being Black just adds: the complexities of intersecting the margins
The majority of Black D/deaf female students who enter college do not obtain college degrees; as many of them drop out of college citing irreconcilable differences with faculty, staff and peers (Barnartt, 2006; Williamson, 2007). Although, many of these inequities are being addressed in current scholarship, traditionally social scientists have analyzed issues of race, gender, class, sexuality or disability by isolating each factor and treating them as if they are independent of each other (Thornton Dill & Zambrana, 2009). This qualitative dissertation study investigates the everyday lives of Black D/deaf female students on a college campus. The study is based on data gathered during four focus group interviews with twenty-two total participants and fifteen individual semi-structured interviews. Interviews were videotaped and conducted in either spoken English or sign language depending on the preference of the participant. Interviews conducted in sign language were then interpreted to spoken English by the researcher, and subsequently transcribed. The study sought to explore identity and individual agency, microaggressions and marginality on campus, and self-determination. Analysis focused critically on the women's understanding of their intersecting identities, their perception of their college experience and their persistence in college. The data revealed a seemingly "invisible" space that women occupied either because of their deafness, race, gender or social class status. Even though the women felt that that they were able to "successfully" navigate space for themselves on their college campus, many experienced more difficulty than their peers who were White, male or hearing. The women developed strategies to negotiate being part of both the deaf and hearing worlds while on their college campus. However, they frequently felt excluded from the Black hearing culture or the White deaf culture.