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Ministry to African American Adolescent Girls

"Enlightened Females"

As we seek to minister to youth in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church we must keep before us the pressing need to provide mentoring to both African American Males and African American Females. Our local churches can be sanctuaries and sacred spaces where adolescents can learn personal, cultural, social and spiritual values.

African American females have uniqueness about them and need female role models and mentors with whom they can identify and relate to culturally, socially and spiritually.

In her book, Trouble Don’t Last Always: Emancipatory Hope Among African American Adolescents, Evelyn Parker offers the concept of emancipatory hope as a vital paradigm for an African American adolescent spirituality and as a theological framework for congregations concerned about fostering Christian hope in African American teenagers. She offers emancipatory hope as a theological framework for congregations that are intentional about fostering hope in African American teenagers through ministry with them.

Dr. Parker further states that “God requires of congregations, to incarnate God’s prophetic word of a good future with hope. As such, congregations partner with God as they foster hope in all members of the community, especially those who bear the future of the community: children and youth.”
The Department is in the process of developing a curriculum and handbook for a Mentoring Ministry to Adolescent Girls in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. We solicit your input and prayers as we journey forward in developing this crucial and relevant ministry for local churches.

Resources for Mentoring to African American Adolescent Girls:

Dr. Evelyn Parker is the Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Perkins School of Theology. Her research interests include religious identity and spiritual formation in African American adolescents, adolescents in sociopolitical movements and their understanding of vocation, adolescent resiliency and vocation.

Both of Dr. Parker’s books are currently available through the Department of Christian Education.

Girls of Color

During the last few decades, the collective efforts of women psychologists and the feminist movement have established and legitimized the psychological study of women and girls, and have created an intellectual climate in which it is now commonplace to conceptualize gender as a social construction of enormous influence in individual psychology and female self-definition.

Within these movements, however, there has been a marginalization of women of color. One third of the 18.5 million girls between the ages of 10 and 18 living in the United States are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Eskimo, or Aleut. They remain virtually invisible in the psychological literature on adolescent girl development.

In examining recent research studies, the lack of data and information about the psychological development and lives in general of adolescent girls of color is of great concern. Major studies on adolescent development are flawed by the presence and absence of certain groups of girls of color, a lack of reliable data on the economic status of the households of some groups of adolescent girls of color, a failure to address the roles of race and gender, and a lack of information regarding the racial-ethnic identity of research participants.

Just as the notion that males and females differ in their development toward self-definition has become accepted, professionals and others who work with adolescent girls must move toward the fuller recognition of the contribution of race, ethnicity, culture, class, and sexual orientation to development in general and to the understanding of adolescents in particular.

Research Agenda: Adolescent Girls of Color

• What components of racial-ethnic culture are critical for the development of positive identities in girls of color? Do the components vary across racial-ethnic groups?

• What is the impact of economic status on the development of adolescent girls of color in terms of education, motivation, and behavior? Is the impact the same or different across racial-ethnic groups?

• Do race-ethnicity and social class have the same impact for adolescent girls and adolescent boys of color? Do the differences, if any, suggest different intervention strategies?

• What factors explain the drop in self-esteem in Black and Hispanic adolescent girls? What is the role of context in the examination of self-esteem for these two groups of girls?

• Do Asian American and American Indian girls experience changes in self-esteem during adolescence? What factors may contribute to this change, if any, within the subgroups of these two large "racial" categories?

• What are the direct and indirect effects of the oppressive and exploitative historical legacies on the identities, attitudes, and aspirations of adolescent girls of color?

Excerpts from http://www.apa.org/pi/cyf/adolesgirls.html