Black Women Speaking From Within

Essays and Experiences in Higher Education

by Kelly K. Hope (Volume editor)
©2019 Monographs XVIII, 136 Pages


In Black Women Speaking From Within: Essays and Experiences in Higher Education, contributors use intersectional and interdisciplinary lenses to share the ways in which they understand, navigate, resist, and transform student services, learning, teaching, and existing in the academy. This book explores and discusses the following question: How do Black women experience and perceive place and agency in higher education? Black Women Speaking From Within draws upon the influence organizational culture, sense-making, and sisterhood has on praxis and pedagogy and places the Black woman’s stories and experiences at the center of the conversation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Using the Text
  • Chapter 1: Black Women Staff in the Academy: Challenges, Sisterhood, and Strategies for Success (Kimberly D. Johnson)
  • Workplace Challenges for Black Women in Higher Education
  • Obstacles to Advancement
  • Invisibility
  • Climate Issues
  • Co-occurring Discrimination (Double Jeopardy)
  • Isolation
  • Mentoring
  • Role Modeling
  • Collective Voice
  • Networking
  • Sisterhood
  • Strategies for Success
  • Coping Mechanisms
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2: My Sister, Myself: Sociocultural Factors That Affect the Advancement of African-American Women Into Senior-Level Positions (Antoinette Bonnie Candia-Bailey)
  • African-American Woman in Senior-Level Administrative Roles
  • Sociocultural Factors of Gender and Leadership
  • Overview of the Participants
  • Participant Recruitment
  • Theme: Ascertain Your Place in the System
  • Theme: The External View and Being Omitted
  • Theme: The Obstructions to Progression
  • Theme: Mentoring
  • Implications of the Findings
  • Chapter 3: Made It to the Adult Table: Being a Black Woman Millennial Leader in Higher Education (Stephanie L. Krah)
  • Understanding Generation Correlations
  • Baby Boomers and Gen Xers
  • Millennials
  • Multiple Generations in the Workplace
  • From Slave to Leader
  • Close, but Still Far Away
  • Voices of Black Women Millennial Leaders
  • Managing My Emotions
  • My Voice Matters
  • I Am Valuable
  • There Is Room at the Table
  • Chapter 4: The Invisible Woman: How Institutional Cultures Perpetuate the Marginalization of Black Women (Kelly K. Hope)
  • Tokenism
  • The Invisible Woman
  • Timber in My Voice
  • The Point
  • Chapter 5: The Contradictions in Higher Education (Latoya Rene Robertson)
  • Contradiction Number 1: The Adult/Kid Contradiction
  • Contradiction Number 2: The Equitably Unequal Contradiction
  • Contradiction Navigation
  • Chapter 6: Calling All the Sisters: Sister Circles as a Form of Institutional Responsibility to Black Womyn Collegians (Courtney Allen)
  • Black Womyn Collegians PWI Campus Experiences
  • Black Womyn Collegians’ Experiences
  • Undergraduate Black Womyn
  • Graduate Black Womyn
  • Institutional Support and Responsibility
  • Take Action and Make Intentional Decisions
  • Sister Circles
  • Bottom Up Approach: Acceptance to Graduation
  • Lens Into the Future for the Black Womyn Collegians
  • Continued Research on BWCs and Their Experience at PWIs
  • Chapter 7: Build, Bond, or Break: Sisterhood in the Midst of Individual Transformations (Lytasha Marie Blackwell)
  • The Herstory of Organized Sisterhoods
  • Why Sisterhood Is Important?
  • Interest in Joining a Sisterhood
  • Expectations of the Sisterhood
  • Breakdowns in Communications
  • Building Sisterhood
  • Reaching New Levels
  • Mentorship
  • Gossip and Negative Speak
  • Breaking Away
  • Chapter 8: Sisterly Personal Narratives From Two Black Sisters in the Academy (Robin Phelps-Ward / Erin K. Phelps)
  • Erin
  • Robin
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Methods
  • Navigating Whiteness
  • Learning to Navigate Whiteness Early
  • Compromise
  • Hair as Rebellion
  • Whiteness as the Lynchpin of the Academy
  • Disingenuous Intersectional Values
  • Recommendations for Navigational Practice
  • Creative Expression
  • Practicing Creative Expression
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 9: Who in the Hell Left the Gate Open (Kelly K. Hope)
  • Up Your Social and Cultural Capital
  • Identify Your Allies and Adversaries
  • Don’t Shrink! Step Up and Self-Advocate
  • Know Your Worth and Value
  • Persevere and Produce
  • Appendix I: Sample Proposal
  • Appendix II: Sample Cover Letter
  • Appendix III: Sample Supervisory Evaluation Form
  • Contributors
  • Series Index

← xii | xiii →



This book is not for everyone. When I decided to compile this collection of essays and experiences, I had a specific audience in mind—people who were interested in highlighting, validating, and discussing the racial and gender experiences and incongruities in higher education. In other words, I compiled this work for people like me—black women working and studying at institutions of higher education. I wanted to create an opportunity and space for us to speak for us and in our own language. I also complied this book for another audience—people who desire but struggle to understand the impact monolithic thinking, institutional culture, and ambiguous policies have on the black woman’s experiences on college and university campuses. I hope the chapters in this book begin to foster dialogue on campuses near and far. Lastly, it is my prayer that black women are empowered by the collection assembled here to own your voice and speak knowledgeably and confidently.

Light and Love

Kelly Hope
← xiii | xiv →

← xiv | xv →



Assembling this anthology was a collective effort and would not have come to fruition without the contributions of eight phenomenal women. Dr. Kimberly D. Johnson, Dr. Antoinette Bonnie Candia-Bailey, Dr. Stephanie Krah, LaToya Rene Robertson, Lytasha Marie Blackwell, Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward, Erin K. Phelps, and Dr. Courtney Allen thank you for speaking from within and contributing your voice in this space. What we’ve assembled here is validation, life, and light.

To my parents, William Benny Hope Sr. and I. Lucille Hope, thank you for the encouragement and support. I stand on your shoulders, your sacrifices, and struggles. I carry you with me always. To my sister-girl, confidant, and cheerleader Medgine B. Bright thank you for listening and sharing in this journey.

To my God-mother, Cynthia Patterson, thank you for listening and requiring excellence of me. ← xv | xvi →

← xvi | xvii →



When Audre Lorde (1984) says “each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us” (p. 44), I am reminded first, that black women, who speak and use their voice, are often labeled and typecast angry or aggressive. Second, I am reminded that speaking carries with it a responsibility to study and to speak from an informed position. Third, I am reminded that to speak in such a way that language turns into mobilization may carry with it adverse conse­quences, frustrating days, and isolation. Last, I am reminded that this work, this calling to transgress and speak from within the ivory tower is not only needed but required. For when we speak, the potential of what could be is awakened, and possibilities are turned into realities.

Perhaps you’ve experienced racial battle fatigue. Or maybe you’re not familiar with the concept because you’re not a black woman, but an ally who seeks to understand more clearly the experiences of black women and how it relates to educating and working with black and brown people. No matter your reason for picking up this book, this collection of essays and experiences captures the experiences of nine black women.

By immersing ourselves in the landscape of higher education, we were able to access, assess, and expose the challenges and successes we’ve faced navigating the often artic and restrictive terrain that is academia. This collective voice is fervent and creates a platform for black women to push back on the ideas of marginalization and microaggressions, and place the black woman’s ideas at the center of discourse, thereby making way for black women to validate one another while encouraging “white feminists, African-American men, and all others to investigate the similarities and differences among their own standpoints” and those of black women (Collins, 1990, p. xiii). ← xvii | xviii →

We use intersectional and interdisciplinary lenses to share the ways in which we—nine black women, understand, navigate, resist, transform, exist, and succeed in the academy. We draw upon the influences black feminist thought, organizational culture, sense-making, and sisterhood has on praxis and pedagogy. We do not claim to speak for all black women. Rather we speak for ourselves and by speaking for ourselves we seek to add to the tapestry of higher education by inserting our voice and narratives into the academic discourse thereby providing an opportunity to place the black women’s experiences and stories at the center of the conversation.

This edited collection focuses on the holistic experiences of black women in higher education. We explore and discuss one central question: how do black women experience and perceive place and agency in higher education? In answering this central question, we address the undergraduate experience, pathways to professorate positions, contradictions in student affairs, leadership, and strategies for success.

Using the Text

The book is broken into three parts. Part I, Black Women in Leadership: Identity, Sense-Making, and Transformation; Part II, The Ivory Tower: Undergraduate Experiences; Part III, Strategies for Success. Part I, Black Women in Leadership: Identity, Sense-Making and Transformation offer stories about black women’s experiences obtaining leadership positions and navigating place and agency in academia. Part II, The Ivory Tower: Undergraduate Experiences examine contradictions in student affairs, experiences with Greek Letter Organizations, and experiences cultivating relationships at the undergraduate level. Part III, Strategies for Success recounts personal experiences and provides recommendations for success.

At the end of each chapter, there is a Join the Conversation section. This section includes questions that can be used to encourage discourse. Likewise, at the end of text, we have included a Toolkit with resources, forms, and checklists to support your continued growth and development.


Collins, P. H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.


XVIII, 136
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XVIII, 136 pp., 2 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Kelly K. Hope (Volume editor)

Kelly K. Hope is an educator, advocate, and higher education professional. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in English education from Southern Connecticut State University and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Northeastern University. Hope serves as Adjunct Professor and Director of Student Life and Student Conduct at Housatonic Community College. In 2013, she received the Phi Delta Kappa Golden Apple Award for excellence in education.


Title: Black Women Speaking From Within
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
156 pages