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Culturally-responsive pedagogies require moving beyond blanket assumptions about learners to focus deeply on local meaning-makings. This narrative analysis case study examines the ways a 20-year-old African American man challenges the negative educational identity with which he is forced to contend as he navigates a large and complex urban public school system. The ways in which Jamahl, a seeker of a High School Equivalency, refuses interpellation as an uneducated learner destined to be “nothin'” provides insight as to how formal education might be more responsive to learners' negotiation of deficiency discourses. Embracing agency, specifically through awareness of the ways Jamahl employs (re)positioning practices, this narrative analysis case study highlights paths for researchers and practitioners to tap into learners' resources to recognize and foster powerful learning identities.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Equity & Excellence in Education , volume 50, issue 4, in 2017, available online at DOI: 10.1080/10665684.2017.1393641. It may differ slightly from the final version of record.

Peer Reviewed



University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Education

Available for download on Saturday, June 15, 2019