Thoughts on the Audience for my Research

Who is my audience and how much can I expect them to know?

Beyond the McNair staff, my cohort, and mentors; my audience is other community organizers, people who work with girls of color, and people who are invested in youth-adult partnerships. These people will have a special interest in my topic because of their own work, though possibly also because they are interested in the history of Black girl-led social change events in Portland, Oregon. I imagine that my audience is expecting me to discuss the particulars of the TriMet campaign, while I am more interested in how the girls who participated in a transit justice campaign were impacted.

The problem I will be addressing: how Y-APs, that were built in the context of learning grassroots community organizing skills, affect girls of color, especially Black girls, who were leading a transit equity campaign in Portland, OR with the non-profit organization, Sisters in Action for Power. This may or may not be an issue that other scholars recognize; local scholars, maybe. For people who produce scholarship within Black Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Girl Studies, they may either be familiar with the issue, or quickly grasp it through reading. This fact makes this an issue that is not only “mine”, but “ours”. In other words, this issue does not solely affect me. When we look at how girls of color are civic participants and social change makers, this becomes an issue that reverberates through many communities. I’d like to believe that upon reading my work, scholars would take the issue seriously. However, I feel as though it is important for me to be prepared for naysayers and those who may need a little more convincing.

How will readers respond to the solution/answer in my main claim?

I am using a case study as my method, and my methodology is feminist; because of the kinds of scholars who will be interested in my work, this method and methodology should not come as a surprise. My qualitative data are loosely structured, in-depth, one-on-one interviews, an analysis of media documents written about Sisters in Action, and a review of training and organizing materials used by members and staff of the organization. In my discipline, qualitative data is valuable if we are to understand how institutional oppressions affect individuals. While it’s true that this kind of qualitative data is not generalizable, I do not seek to generalize.

The answer to my central research question depends on my interview respondents. So, for my audience to have some standard arguments against what I report, well, that is possible. However, I don’t believe it’s appropriate, as a feminist researcher, to consume anecdotal data and responds with finger wagging. I can see how it’s possible that some feminist scholars may not agree with the research participants, but that would be an opportunity for me to engage with them theoretically, as academics, and less of an opportunity for us to eviscerate the story of another woman of color’s experience.

And yes, my audience will want to see the steps that led me to my answer. Hopefully, if I’ve done the kind of work that I seek to do, this will be transparent.

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