What Was Missing from the #YoungFabFemale Discussion

As a relatively new Houstonian, health writer/journalist, assistant professor of communication studies and fabulous Black female (or at least I’d like to think so), I was thrilled when my colleague sent me an invitation to join her this evening at “Young, Fabulous & Female,” a conversation focusing on Black women’s success sponsored by The Root and Toyota. The theme was “Crossing the Line,” and panelists were to share tips and wisdom for Black women pursuing successful professional journeys.

I shot straight across my new city after a long day of work with heart and mind open to receive some fabulous words of wisdom and empowerment from a panel of accomplished women in areas inclusive of ministry, medicine, and media… in other words, ALL of my faves.

A few minutes into the panel, I felt my enthusiasm begin to wane. While there were gems dispersed throughout the evening that received a head nod or two, I couldn’t help but feel deflated. I listened as comments were made that circumvented and overlooked critical issues Black women face despite, and within, all of our authentic fabulousness. Continue reading

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The #blkgrlmvmt: Why it matters.

I want to write a book.

Of course, if you know me, you know that I want to write several books. And, that I come up with a new book idea almost annually. However, this story – The Black Girl Movement – is one I really want to tell.
If you’ve had the opportunity to click around my site, you may have read where I’ve tried to figure out what it means to be in motion, or where I tried to connect those concepts to my research. For me (and I know my adviser Elli would love this), my research interests and this book idea — which is not entirely an academic one — are closely intertwined. Continue reading

What’s Next?… All BLACK Everything.

In March 2015, I presented original research for the first time as a Ph.D. at the annual meeting for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA). My session, Countering Digital Marginality, was designed to start a larger conversation in higher education on the increasing relevance of tuning in on online platforms and engaging with marginalized students, who use those platforms to amplify their (often silenced) voices. My case study centered a black male student, Travis*, who openly identified as gay online and had reached out to my department for help during his transition to campus life. I situated Travis’ story within the recent trend of online activism performed by students of color and marginalized members of student organizations nationwide – think #ITooAm movements at Harvard, Oxford, and most recently at UGA. I loved being able to share Travis’ story and, even more, being able to take real action because of it. More on that in upcoming weeks.

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Another note about mentors…

A few weeks ago I wrote about using social media to seek out and pursue relationships with (or merely be inspired by) virtual mentors. Earlier this week, The Chronicle of Higher Education also highlighted how this practice is a very good – and particularly useful – approach to mentorship. The article provides good reasoning and good advice, and I especially like this tidbit of truth:

The power and potential of virtual mentors and academic communities are helpful to everyone, but they offer a particularly powerful tool for marginalized groups, whose mentoring needs are often neglected. Social media provide graduate students of color, first-generation students, and others with an important space to navigate the often inhospitable culture of academe.

Being able to seek out and potentially build relationships with mentors is a key advantage of living in a socially mediated world. Read the entire Chronicle article here.

Remembering Maya: Where’s Your Mentor?

On the morning of May 28, 2014, I had just settled in at my office and powered up my Mac. Each morning, the first item on my to-do list is to check my department’s Twitter account on HootSuite and my personal account on Tweetdeck. So there I was, about two minutes after settling in, when I realized “RIP Maya Angelou” was the morning’s trending topic. My chest sank and I couldn’t find air.

maya-angelou-quotes-2I let out an “Oh My God!” loud enough to alarm my coworker as I stormed out the office, unable to finish my thought: “Maya Angelou is..” Before I made it out the double doors of our reception area my tears were in full view. Outside, I completely broke down. Maya. God, why Maya? I remember wondering how a morning could be so beautiful when the pain I felt was so excruciating.

Maya was my first mentor. Through her words, she wrapped arms around me and taught me life lessons that were otherwise not immediately accessible or palpable. Some time during undergrad, and as a young single mother, I read Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting Merry Like Christmas and I felt my life changing. With each page, something in me transformed.  I loved Maya because of her realness. Her story was anything but glamorous, like mine was shaping up to be, and that was the story I needed to read. Continue reading