Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Second Advisor

Kirk Johnson

Third Advisor

Zandria Robinson

Relational Format



Reproductive justice is a social justice movement based on black feminist principles that is also a direct response to women of color's invisibility within white mainstream feminist organizations and workplaces. This ethnographic case study of WomenUnited, a woman of color reproductive justice organization, demonstrates that a key difference between black feminist and white feminist workplace cultures is black workplace's centralization of and emphasis on their intersectional identities in their definitions of work and the ways they enact emotional labor. I find that identity within black feminist workplaces is managed differently as the organizations: (1) embrace alternative standards of beauty through dress and presentation of self; (2) create a safe work environment where the stress of racialized and gendered impression management is limited; and (3) accept care and emotional labor as integral parts of their work. However, emotional suppression similar to mainstream organizations is still necessary in order to combat exogenous stereotypes about black women and their perceived inefficiency. These perceptions adversely impact the marketability and funding sources for WU. Though healthy emotional labor is central to the health and emotional well-being of the organization's workers, it does not fit well into foundations' and mainstream reproductive health actors' expectations for approaching reproductive health issues.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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