Let the Circle of Sista PhDs be Unbroken!

 

As I have continued to make my rounds at professional conferences, summer institutes, and various university campuses I have been overjoyed to learn of all the other thirty-something black female PhDs who are making waves in the academy!  It’s always great to see a friendly face, but to make contact with a friendly face that is reflective of your own experience is exceptionally exciting! My professional “elder” T. Harris once told me to seek out the best and brightest in my field and to make them my professional support network. She advised me to lean on this circle for reading those raggedy drafts, for emotional support when the academy gets to be enough, and for collaboration on other professional projects.  It was a great piece of advice and although she didn’t point to other black women in particular, my black female mind was directed that way by default. That is not to suggest that I am opposed to black male scholars in my circle or even white men and women. I lean on more than a few, but this one is for my ladies. 

I knew some folks in my age range or a bit older with whom I shared similar interests, but the task of building the type of bond T. Harris speaks of has been grounded in more theory than practice. That is, until recently.  As I have encountered black female academics who are still in the early stages of their careers, as am I, I have made a special effort to lend my support and build professional and personal links to these women.  It is a work in progress.  I am a very shy and introverted individual—don’t judge me. Nonetheless, I am happily moving forward with building my network of thirty-somethings. I am so proud to share the academic stage with such fierce and innovative thinkers. Here are just a few of the amazing scholars with whom I have connected or intend to connect. Look out for us:

Therí A. Pickens, Assistant Professor of English (Bates College)

Her research focuses on Arab American and African American literatures and cultures, Disability Studies, philosophy, and literary theory. Check out her blog: The Rogue Vogue Professor. Did I mention she isn’t even 30???  Do the math.

Folashade Alao, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies (University of South Carolina)

Her scholarship examines the construction of the Sea Islands as a significant cultural landscape in the black feminist imagination and historicizes the Sea Islands’ contemporary emergence as a site of memory.You can find her profile here.

Ayesha Hardison, Assistant Professor of English (Ohio University)

Ford Fellow, MLA Executive Committee Member of the Black American Literature and Culture Division, NEH Summer Scholar. Look forward to her monograph Writing Through Jane Crow: Race, Gender, and Genre, 1940-1954.

Koritha Mitchell, Associate Professor of English (Ohio State University)

She is most well known for her work on the depiction of lynching and racial violence in African American Literature and Drama, Living with Lynching. I can’t wait to see what is next from this scholar.

Aisha Lockridge, Assistant Professor of English (St. Joseph’s University)

A Diva in her own right, Professor Lockridge has crafted an innovative read of the the Diva in African American literature in her recently released book, Tipping on a Tightrope. Her next project will contend with the “magical negress” in popular culture. Read all about her research and teaching here. 

Tanisha C. Ford, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

The phrase she coined to describe her scholarship says it all: “Haute Couture Intellectualism.” I haven’t met this scholar yet, but her work on black women, respectability, and adornment sounds like a project that is well over due.

 

I will admit, with many of these women I do have a professional relationship and I am unabashedly promoting their work just for the sake of exposing others to the scholarship of other black female PhDs of a certain age.  Isn’t that, after all, also part of the professional life? Get to know them and support their work!!!

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