Book Cover - These Black Kids copyNew Book from Fielding faculty Dr. Jennifer N. Bacon These Black Kids: The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls Writing Poetry.

The book examines the space that resides between girlhood and womanhood.  This space contains what is personal, familial, and societal. It is the place that transforms Black girls into Black women.  This is also the place that beckons us to create our own identities and definition of Black womanhood. These Black Kids: The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls Writing Poetry uncovers the voices of teen girls writing their way to Black womanhood together.  This book exposes the journey of learning strength through vulnerability; (re)defining love and recovering from grief and suffering. These Black Kids offers the writings and lived experiences of three adolescent girls, “Keisha,” “Mishaps,” and “Blue,” as they uncover their muted voices to speak with truth, courage, and conviction. This is the space where the “girlchild” learns what it means to be free.
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Book Reviews

Poetry is a get-together of emotions. It is a peak inside of human possibility. Dr. Bacon’s book shows us the transformative power of this ancient language of love. She shows us how our children, in general, and our black girls, in particular, can come to know and love themselves, and how we can skillfully expedite and support their journey. The curriculum has always been the child, and this life-giving and life-saving study is a dynamic guide for teachers, literacy practitioners, and guardians of these Black kids. — Kwame Alexander, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Door of No Return Trilogy and Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir; Writer/Executive Producer, “The Crossover” on Disney+ & Disney Channel; President, Big Sea Entertainment

The place of poetry in understanding African American adolescent girls in the context of institutional racism is demonstrated through heart and mind. Dr. Jennifer Bacon, an amazing poet and educator, speaks to culture, creativity, and commitment. This commitment beckons us to not only understand, but to act for inclusion, equity, and social justice. The impact of “naming” can be instrumental in damaging or uplifting young people. Bacon’s personal narrative and poetry bring multiracial and Black feminism to your door. The “lived experience” of writing poetry is remarkably demonstrated and consistent with the research on expressive writing. On every level of human experience (cognitive, affective, behavioral, and spiritual), this book provides an entry into the power, pain, and promise of poetry to not only African American adolescent girls but to the humanity in all of us. Dr. Bacon truly captures the depth, beauty, and urgency of this process. I find this work to be a model for me to follow my own work in poetry therapy. — Nicholas Mazza, PhD, Professor and Dean Emeritus at the Florida State University, College of Social Work, Tallahassee, FL; Author of Poetry Therapy; Theory and Practice, 3rd Edition (2022); Founding (1987) and current editor, Journal of Poetry Therapy: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Practice, Theory, Research, and Education. 

A must-read tour de force, These Black Kids: Culturally Responsive Poetry and the Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls is truly a masterpiece depicting, as its name implies, the lived experience of a marginalized group languishing on the outskirts of America’s mores yet markedly burgeoning within the frame of the American portrait—the most denigrated and least understood cultural group in our society: The African American Adolescent Girl. Not simply a treatise just for Black girls, this artistic production is enlightening to all who will dare delve into their vivacity. Bacon poetically enumerates the throes of life unique to African American adolescent girls and simultaneously celebrates the strength, courage, and resiliency of this unbeknownst ordinary, albeit extraordinary, group impacting our world. — Nathaniel Granger, Jr., PsyD; Past President, Society for Humanistic Psychology; Editor, Poetry, Healing, and Growth Series, University Professors Press; Co-editor, Rising Voices: Poems Toward a Social Justice Revolution

Dr. Bacon’s study is an amazing work in drawing out the lived experiences of adolescent girls who were able to name themselves through the poetry writing process she engaged them in through her poetry writing group. The writing of the adolescent girls is so very powerful in displaying what their lived experiences are as African American adolescents struggling for a voice. Dr. Bacon is fast becoming a leading scholar in this area. — Dr. Francine Hultgren, Professor Emerita & Phenomenological Researcher, University of Maryland, College Park

About the Author

Jennifer N. Bacon, Ph.D.

Jennifer N. Bacon, Ph.D.

Jennifer N. Bacon is a Core Doctoral Professor in Human and Organizational Development at Fielding Graduate University. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her MEd in Special Education from the University of Virginia and brings with her over two decades of experience in the field of education. In addition to her in-depth experience in education, she is an interfaith minister trained in the use of poetry therapy, spiritual guidance, and yoga.

Deeply committed to addressing racial and gender equity, and writing for social justice, healing, and transformation, she participates in a number of professional associations, mentoring organizations, writing projects, and research work. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters including, “Writing in Solidarity: The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls Writing Poetry,” “Using Culturally and Inclusive Poetry Groups with Diverse Teens,” “Culturally Responsive Poetry,” “Academic Mothering: Black Women Mentors in Higher Education,” “Strong Black Women Cry,” and co-authored article, “Examining Teachers’ Beliefs About African American Male Students in a Low-Performing High School in an African American School District.”

Dr. Bacon is the author of Sisters in the Dissertation House: A Dissertation Narrative, which addresses doctoral completion by women of color in underrepresented fields. Her children’s book titled, I Am an Antiracist Superhero! was released by Bala Kids in September of 2023.

Dr. Bacon debuted her book, These Black Kids: Culturally Responsive Poetry and The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls with University Professors Press in October of 2023 at the Humanistic Psychology and Counseling conference and will be presenting for the National Association of Poetry Therapy conference in April 2024.

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