The Civil Rights Project estimates that Black girls are among the least likely to graduate from high school. More specifically, only about half, or 56%, of freshman Black girls graduate with their class four years later. Beyond the statistics little is known about Black girls who drop out, why they leave school and what happens to them once they are gone. This study is a grounded theory analysis of the stories eight adult Black women told about dropping out of high school with a particular focus on how dropping out affected their lives as workers, mothers and returners to education. There is one conclusion about dropping out and another about Black female identity. First, the women in my study were adolescents during the 1980s, experienced life at the intersection of Blackness, womaness, and poverty and lived in the harsh conditions of a Black American hyperghetto. Using a synthesis between intersectionality and hyperghettoization I found that the women were so determined to improve their economic and personal conditions that they took on occupations that seemed to promise freedom, wealth and safety. Because they were so focused on their new lives, their school attendance suffered as a consequence. In the second conclusion I argued that Black women draw their insights about Black female identity from two competing sources. The two sources are their lived experience and popular controlling images of Black female identity.