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Educational Leadership

Dissertation highlight: LM Alaiyo Foster, EdD ’17

February 02, 2017

Dreaming of Bititi’s Harvest: An Exploratory Study of Afrocentric Rites of Passage as a Means of Mitigating HIV Transmission Among Adolecent Metropolitan African American Females


The lack of cultural specificity in sexuality education conjunct with a myriad of other social factors influences the disproportional impact of HIV on Black/African-American adolescent females.

Using a focus group methodology with 17 Black/African-American female middle and high school students, I harmonized the intersectionalities between the fields of Afrocentric rites of passage, public health education and (academic) educational leadership, toward providing insights and design of culturally conscious instructional strategies and communal leadership.

The three aims of this exploratory study included: 1) ascertaining the perceived need for, and interest in, the co-creation of Bititi’s Harvest®, a gender and culturally specific, age-appropriate intervention using an Afrocentric rites of passage framework augmented with factual information on sexuality and healthier sexual practices, 2) examining participants’ current levels of knowledge and specific awareness of age, gender, and ethnic HIV risk, and 3) evaluating developments in my leadership praxis and pedagogy.

The key findings of this study included: participants’ indications of lacking fidelity in current educational systems’ strategies of culturally-specific education including comprehensive healthier sexuality education, differences between perceived and actual HIV knowledge accuracy (e.g., 64.5% for cohort), confidence in protective self-sufficiency, comfort speaking with peers and partners about HIV (e.g., 53% agreed with comfort), participants’ recommendations to create curriculum that is inclusive and empowering, and participant interest in co-constructing said curriculum.

Finally, following a discussion of my own leadership developments, I discuss how the findings and their practical application makes an original theoretically-relevant contribution to the literary body, including insights into culturally-specific programming, use of empowerment with metropolitan adolescent Black females 13-21 years, gender-specific use of Afrocentric theory, and rites of passage concept and practice, along with youth-centric and gender-specific input regarding HIV transmission among members of the African diaspora. I conclude with implication and recommendations for the three professional fields.