Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Ranita Ray

Second Committee Member

Georgiann Davis

Third Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Fourth Committee Member

Constancio Arnaldo

Number of Pages



As social constructions of race and nationality continue to transform in the U.S. and anti-Blackness, and anti-immigrant sentiments grow in popularity and visibility, it becomes increasingly necessary to document, analyze and center the experience of these marginalized groups in the U.S. Using two years of ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation, and unstructured interviews, this research project aims to understand the perspectives and experiences of Black American and Black Immigrant women as they navigate the above-mentioned sentiments within various institutions. I center Black women’s lived experiences in urban cities through sharing their perspectives on Black identity and Black motherhood and analyzing unique Black diasporic exchanges. I find that Black immigrant women’s labor is economically impactful to cities and is exclusive to their Black American customers. I find that motherhood is an essential feature of many Black women’s identities, and child-friendly work environments can make work-family balance achievable. I find that complexities associated with Black identities result in contested identities in which women feed the pejorative narratives surrounding Black womanhood. Gendered Blackness is complex in each of these areas. Still, as a result of the beauty exchanges within the salon, Black immigrant women gain economic empowerment, and Black women collectively create possibilities for more intimate relationships within the diaspora. The Black experience, while complex, demonstrates a variety of ways in which Black people successfully navigate institutions that do not consider their experiences valuable. Centering the experiences of the marginalized dismantles the status quo and offers insight for how institutions can even the playing field of life.


African Diaspora; Beauty; Ethnography; Identity; Labor; Motherhood


African American Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology

File Format


File Size

1.3 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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