Kynard – From Candy Girls to Cyber Sista-Cypher: Narrating Black Females’ Color-Consciousness and Counterstories in and Out of School

Kynard, Carmen. “From Candy Girls to Cyber Sista-Cipher: Narrating Black Females’ Color-Consciousness and Counterstories in and Out of School.” Harvard Educational Review 80.1 (2010): 30-53. Print.

In her article, “From Candy Girls to Cyber Sista-Cipher: Narrating Black Females Color-Consciousness and Counterstories in and Out of School,” Carmen Kynard, assistant professor of English at St. John’s University, takes the reader on a journey through time, place, and space. Kynard’s stated goal is to use multiple narratives that explore how digital technologies offer hush harbors for Black female college students’ social and literacy practices in what she describes as “digitized Candy Girls” (33). The phrase Candy Girls, originally adopted from the popular 80s New Edition song, described Kynard’s clique of African American girls that she attended school with and navigated various issues of Black girlhood with.

Kynard described her approach as an “unhushing narrative methodology” (48), rather than an ethnographic one, in her research because she was an active agent in the cipher’s (group’s) sense making, decision making, and survival making” (48). Kynard used narrative to “unhush” and disclose the ways in which the “hidey spaces,” or hush harbors that she and the Black female students in the cipher formed. These spaces contradicted and challenged traditional notions of literacy where the purpose of literacy is understood solely as a means to achieve money and power.

Kynard argued that her use of groups or ciphers also worked against “isolationism of Black women, and unhushing methodology works against the isolating of researcher and participant” (48). The unhushing narrative methodology “(re)values black radical female subjectivity” (48).

These methods serve a rhetorical purpose because by strategically making the private public, Kynard sought to move a deeper understanding of their hush harbor as a site for “new political lenses into, and therefore struggles against, schooling’s processes of ethnic cleansing” (48). This is no doubt necessary in light of the fact that the rest of the institution failed to “recognized” the cipher members or their activity. Kynard defined the urban, youth term “recognize” as being about “publicly acknowledging what is going on and who the central perpetrators are” (48).

“It is worth saying again: no one in the department where I met the sistas in the cyber cipher noticed their displacement or talent; nobody recognized. It didn’t have to be that way, and it can’t be that way if we intend to really dismantle the race, gender, and class hierarchies of educational institutions.” (48)

Through her unhushing narrative, Kynard shows the various ways that Black women in postsecondary educational settings assess their contexts and their positioning within them and seek to employ and/ or develop community literacy skills in order to survive and potentially thrive in in-school contexts.

Hiltz and Turoff – Social and Psychological Processes in Computerized Conferencing

Hiltz, Starr Roxanne, and Murray Turoff. “Social and Psychological Processes in Computer Conferencing.” The Network Nation. First Edition ed.Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1978. 76-126. Print.

This chapter explores the learning and socialization processes of participants as they take part in “electronic group life.” They analyzed data from a computer conferencing conference’s group over several months between 1976 and 1977.

Based on their analyses the authors develop a list of hypotheses about individual communications and learning behavior among new and regular users. Their initial observations showed that there was a reasonable expectation for socioemotional content. According to Hiltz and Turoff the lack of visual and paralinguistic cues (tone, inflection) did not impede expression of emotion in CMC, but necessitated it:

“The cue-emitting capabilities available in computerized conferencing are both more limited than and different from those in the well-rehearsed face-to-face situation…What seems to happen is that the participants pick up these cues but are not able to have confidence in them, at least at first, because they are missing the confirmation of additional kinds of cues… What may seem an inadequate set of cues in computerized conferencing for novice users may later overcome by participants learning how to substitute for missing kinds of cues” (89).

In regard to social dynamics of group interaction in CMC, their preliminary hypotheses, included:

  • There is a strong tendency toward more equal participation in synchronous discussions, as compared to face-to-face groups.
  • More opinions seem to be asked for and offered
  • There is less explicit agreement and disagreement with opinions and suggestions of others.
  • There is a great deal of explicit sociability of an informal sort on these systems