2020 Vision: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Lived Experiences of Black Female Athletes



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This study sought to understand the experiences of Black female athletes and their perspective amid a global pandemic, political protests, social unrest, and calls for justice after the deaths of several unarmed Black people by law enforcement. Employing critical race feminism and colorblind ideology, this interpretative phenomenological analysis qualitatively observed influential factors for Black female athletes and examined the effects race, gender, and sport (or the intersection of all three) had on the experiences of Black female athletes during an extraordinary time. Eight Black female collegiate and semi-professional athletes completed reflexive journals and semi-structured interviews, revealing ways they negotiated their personal and athletic environments, and leveraged their autonomy. Four themes emerged from the data: (a) identity and growth; (b) navigating athletics; (c) hypervigilance; and (d) influencers and motivational factors. This study adds to the scarcity of research on Black female athletes and the way they are affected emotionally, socially, and politically and the strategies they use to cope, manage, and survive. Findings demonstrate the problematizing nature of bias, racism, and discrimination within athletics, and the techniques Black women use to navigate spaces that are not conducive to their needs. Future research is also discussed as the study developed new knowledge in the ways Black women in sport would like to be supported.



Black female athletes, colorblind, critical race feminism, student-athletes, higher education, Covid-19, social justice, Black Lives Matter