Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Edward "Rusty" Barrett


There is a significant gap in research related to the impact of intersectionality on linguistic identity performance among individuals negotiating multiple marginalized identities. This gap is especially significant among deaf Black and African American individuals who use the American Sign Language (ASL) variety deemed Black American Sign Language (BASL) (Hairston & Smith, 1983). This research aims to identify and discuss the use of the eight distinguishing features of BASL (McCaskill et al. 2011) as indexes of intersectional identities.

My data consists of videos sourced from YouTube, each chosen according to the following criteria: must have at least one self-identifying Black or African American person; said person must be communicating via signed language; and said person must be signing for a minimum of forty-five seconds. Each video will be glossed and discussed in terms of the number of BASL features used and how those features may index each signer’s identity. This study claims that signers of Black ASL variably choose features of Black ASL to incorporate in their communicative practices, and there are multiple linguistic features that mark a Black identity within d/Deaf discourse, revealing that features that mark Black ASL also have indexical meanings within the Black ASL community.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)