Introducing: The Black Women’s Studies (BWST) Booklist by Dr. Stephanie Evans

Dr. Stephanie Evans (you may know her from her hit book Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History– among others), of Clark Atlanta University’s Department of African American Studies, Africana Women’s Studies, and History undertook a herculean effort: to compile a list of books by, for, and about Black women that are based within women’s studies and/or those that fall within the women’s studies knowledge tree.

The culmination of her efforts has resulted in a 1400+ list of books by, for, and about Black women from theories and identities to activism and social location. The book list is broken down into themes/ disciplines as pictured in her image below, and the website also boasts an alpha order version of the project.

(Evans, 2019, https://bwstbooklist.net/)

We appreciate Dr. Evans for situating the work of #CiteASista as part of a long tradition of Black women’s studies (pp. 9-10) and for chronicling the inspirations and commitments we offer to academe and beyond (pp. 3-5) through the #CiteASista project which was the first of its kind in 2016 when we bagan.

Visit the Black Women’s Studies Booklist online *Here*!

3* Reasons I Decreased My Social Media Usage

I love social media. 

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Okay, maybe not love; but, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook have been, for as long as I can remember, ways for me to keep in touch with people from various stages of my life. Or, so I thought. Yet this summer when I completed an internship with a mentor and began to think about the things I wanted to accomplish before graduate school ends in May, something changed. My friend Qua’Aisa often colloquially refers to pre-graduation accomplishments as a “graduate school bucket list” and it has stuck with me ever since. I began to realize that I was spending a lot more time sharing and scrolling through my life and the lives of others than I was living intentionally amongst people with whom I wanted to create memories.

I often joke that I go to bed so late and wake up so early that I nearly pass myself in the hallway.

And while that’s true and I’ve been very productive for the last few years, I realize that productivity came at the expense of sleep and taking care of myself because I was using bedtime for aimless scrolling. Since summer began, I’ve been sleeping more, eating better, and working out exponentially more consistently. So what does that have to do with social media? My uptick in self-care is directly tied to my downtrend in social media scrollage (I’m a Ph.D. student, I can make up words if I want). I used to wake up at 5 or 6am to theoretically be productive and center myself only to realize an hour had passed and all I’d accomplished was failing to sleep and mindless scrolling. But the change in social media algorithms has gone on to make this increasingly visible because when I was mindlessly scrolling things started to look familiar. And then I realized: I was seeing the same. five-ish. posts. all. the. time.

So I said no more. 

No more aimless scrolling.

No more spending time in spaces that drained me emotionally.

No more being entangled on websites that would often lead to drama (ask any graduate student about groupme drama and they’ll tell you stories for days).

So what did I do? And how did I do it? I took the liberty of deciding to–

  • Remove myself from every GroupMe I was a part of and deleting* my GroupMe account.
  • Remove Facebook from my phone (I only posted there sparingly, anyway, after the Russia scandal).
  • Deleted the twitter app (but scheduled posts that align with my research agenda and identities).
  • Deleted the Instagram app.
  • Deleted the Snapchat app.

Typing that out somehow feels harder than actually doing it or having done it.

Northern Lights Simple Typographic Travel Postcard

My plan isn’t to completely run away from or stop using social media altogether. But it is to be more intentional about how much time I spend aimlessly scrolling and the messages I’m digesting and internalizing as a result of my social media usage. It’s also to allow myself a bit more room to enjoy sifting through my dissertation data and write up–no matter how messy and to finally complete some manuscripts I’ve been working on for over two yearsOkay, so maybe this isn’t simply three reasons I decreased my social media usage in a neat little bow. But I share my story to say it’s okay to decompress. And when people go on social media sabbaticals or decide to engage these platforms at arms lengths, we need not continuously question them about what’s wrong or what happened. In my case? I realized I spent much more time LIVING and enjoying my internship when I wasn’t worried about documenting every piece of it or seeing what everyone else was doing.

I’ll be back online for things that matter to me like #CiteASista chats, sharing my travels, amplifying important writings and research by Black women, and even acknowledging some of my dissertation milestones. But I won’t be online to engage spaces that drain me. I won’t be online to debate or argue points with people who are not interested in the actual exchange of information. And no, I won’t be online to see what else is going on in this government of mine and discussing it in an echo chamber.

Instead, I’ll be spending that time hosting Sunday brunches with friends and making Sunday dinner with my parents and sister. I’ll be writing up the stories of women who’ve entrusted me to shed light on the sometimes volatile field I seem to have committed myself to. I’ll be watching TV shows and movies that bring me joy like Mamma Mia, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Legends of Tomorrow.  I’ll be hiking the Seven Wonders of Georgia. I’ll be moving through multiple European countries to enjoy people, sites, sights, and foods I thought I’d never experience when I was younger (I’m not that old).

Map Airplane Travel Postcard

I’ll be living my life on my own terms without the pressures I’d previously placed on myself to do social media. And I’ll do so without feeling like I am traipsing through life on an auto scroll. I write this because I find it amusing that the very things that have saved me and propelled me thus far (#CiteASista, #SisterPhD, #FirstGenDocs, etc.) are the very things I’m still engaging but have also led me to move back and take rests from for my own health and sanity. This is not a plea for people to self-reflect, a critique of others who share nearly every piece of their day online, nor is it a call to action… It’s simply a post by a woman who has helped create online communities explaining in those same places a why I decided to step back from the performativity social media requires. It’s my way of doing something not because something is wrong, but because I needed to care for me before something became wrong.

Cheers to personal growth and self-reflection after unplugging.

Three Songs by Black Women to Add to Your Summer Rotation

I have a love/hate relationship with new music because I miss the days of things being clever versus on the nose. Nevertheless, I’m a huge music fan and I listen to everything and almost anything once– except EDM. Issa no for me dawg.

Either way, summertime playlists are a staple for us as Black women and I thought I’d add three songs that are in heavy rotation for me this summer. I try to post music that I know most people haven’t heard, but Janelle Monae is an icon at this point so she slid in because I’m obsessed with the song. Either way, check them out– the styles are all very different!

Janelle Monáe- I Like That 

CupcakKe- Hot Pockets 

Amber Mark- Heatwave 

What non-mainstream songs are on your summer playlist? Sound off in the comments.

New Music Friday: Cardi-B x Be Careful

Cardi-B released her most recent single “Be Careful” and many consider it to be a musical warning shot at her cheating fiance.

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I don’t know the ins and outs of Cardi’s relationship, but what I hear in this song is a pain all too familiar. One that my friends be they Ph.D. or No-D, middle class or no cash, a pain that Black women everywhere can empathize with:

Heartbreak, embarrassment, and frustration(s).

Cardi’s song is an ode to the ways in which Black women continue to uplift and support Black men only for our love, labor, and affection to be abused in favor of women who “don’t even know your [his] middle name”. Whether this is based on her own experiences or not, the story she’s telling is one many of us have had to and may continue to have to deal with.

It’s gone hurt me to hate you, but loving you’s worse… – Cardi

I would almost never tell a woman to leave a man because if she leaves and misses him, it’s on me; and if she stays and he continues to hurt her, she knows I don’t think he’s deserving. But my advice in the larger scheme of things is this:

Stop chasing these men, sis.

Men who are unwilling to abide by the commitments they sought are not worth an early grave, gray hair, and weight gain (among other stress indicators) you may have to endure. You should NEVER have to ask a man to be careful with you–he should already want to be careful… Especially if you’re the reason “he acting out now he got an audience”.

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In a world where women have more opportunities than ever in their careers and along the lines of financial independence, it is perfectly reasonable to be more selective in your love life. It is also okay to want companionship and support of a partner. But we as women must not come to internalize our worth as tied to a man. Your value is not tied to a man who loves you, a man’s love for you, and how much you’re willing to withstand public and private humiliation. By virtue of your Black womanhood, you are worthy.

You.

Are.

Worthy.

I appreciate the vulnerability and honesty Cardi put into this song. It’s also a pain I’ve come to work through more recent than I care to admit… But you deserve better. She deserves better. WE deserve better.

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Check it out Cardi’s latest song on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music!

“I Expect You to do Well”: Diary of a High-Achieving Black Girl

After writing extensively for three weeks, waiting off and on for written results for another three weeks, and then anxiously counting down the days until the oral defense of my preliminary exams…it happened. I was FINALLY a Doctoral Candidate! It was by far the happiest moment that I have experienced since getting the call with my acceptance into my PhD program two years ago.

The process was generally nerve-wrecking and anxiety-producing, but I was determined to conquer my nerves and reach this next major milestone in my doctoral journey. I had been #ChasingCandidacy for what seemed like forever. I had set a strict schedule since January, accounting for 10 hour+ writing days, a full-time academic load, anxiety-induced heart palpitations with every submission to my committee, the mounting frustrations when I couldn’t get my words just right, and the day-to-day reminders to myself that this process wouldn’t last forever.

However, after standing in the hallway while my committee deliberated, I finally heard the words, “Congratulations, you PASSED!”. My advisor took pictures of me signing my official documentation for the graduate school, I thanked and hugged my committee, and then we took a group selfie in celebration. And I was over-the-moon. And grateful. And humbled. And relieved. And proud. Proud because I was exhausted and nervous and stressed and anxious…but I was finally a Doctoral Candidate! I persisted and endured and achieved; I could have lived in that moment forever.

Once I gathered my thoughts, I could only think of a few people whom I wanted to call and share my exciting news with, so I made my way down my contact list. I made FaceTime calls that weren’t answered, but I told myself that it was the middle of the day and adults were at work. Though disappointed, I continued calling those closest to me until I finally got an answer: “Good job! I expected you to do well”.

Just because you expect excellence from me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard. I know that Queen Beyonce’ changed the game with, I woke up like this, but I worked hard for this. I am inherently brilliant, yes. I am more than capable, yes. AND I worked really, really, hard to accomplish this milestone.

As a high-achieving Black girl, I expect myself to do well. I hold myself to higher standards so that others don’t have to. And because of this, I have to work twice as hard to celebrate myself when something incredible happens. I have to intentionally and consciously remind myself that every accomplishment, whether big or small (to me), belongs to me and is worthy of celebration. The (my) truth is, when the world expects greatness from you, you have to work overtime to appreciate your struggle.

To all those who know and love #highachieving Black girls and women, be mindful of how you respond to our sharing of accomplishments with you. Stop qualifying your well-wishes with your (undue) expectations for our successes. Be proud. Be happy. Be enthusiastic. But please, don’t be dismissive. We EARNED this. Acknowledge that or don’t say anything at all.

Are you a high-achieving Black woman with a similar story? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!

I Get Tired Too, Sis.

So, here’s the thing…I mean well. We all do (well, most of us). And I still mess up. Despite being a perfectionist in just about every area of my life, I am a flawed friend. And I am painfully aware of that.  Through unrelenting processes of critical self-awareness, I have learned to admit my flaws in friendship; however, I still struggle to let folks know when I have been affected by theirs.

Most of this struggle comes from my upbringing in a very Southern, Black, Christian family. “Be polite and only show kindness to others. That’s what Jesus would do”.

And for most of my life, I have done just that. I never talked back or became unruly or let anyone (particularly folks that I considered to be my friends) know that my feelings were hurt. However, this self-silencing has never actually stopped anyone from hurting my feelings, whether they intended to do so or not. And until only recently, I have just taken it. Be it misplaced anger, undue frustrations, or just the residual “I don’t care” attitude jabs, I have taken it all in friendship.

However, I have grown sick and tired of being the take it all friend. Yes, I am a counselor by education and training. Yes, my very nature is empathic and I feel everything. Yes, I want to be more like Jesus and understanding of your journey.

But I get tired too, sis.

And I get annoyed. And irritated. And at my wit’s end with all sorts of chaos. Just. Like. You. Life is hard and unfair (especially for Black women who are rarely given their just due), but I am out here trying to make it, just like you. And in my journey towards making it, I am also a firm believer that, in spite of our very human flaws, we CAN be there in sister-ship for each other, without either of us feeling like our presence or gifts or talents are being taken for granted.

I am grateful that I have a spirit that draws folks to me for support in one way or another. I believe that this drawing power (as my granny would call it) is one of the many reasons that God created me. With this awareness, I support you in your frustrations and want to help you heal. I do not, however, want to be your verbal punching bag or your emotional target practice. I will take accountability for my actions and my actions only. I will admit when I am wrong and when I could have done better.

I will not, however, allow folks to treat me any kind of way because I have just taken it in the past. I’m not taking that anymore and neither should you, sis. Tell your folks when enough is enough before it goes too far. You deserve a break, too.

Unleashing your Inner Child to Master Graduate School

Last week, a few articles discussing the importance of being more child-like regarding professional life were highlighted in my blog subscription emails. This post will focus on the “Adulting is Killing your Vibe–Master these Toddler Moves Stat”  from Shine and “8 Reasons Thinking Like a Child Will Make You Happier” from Mental Floss stood out most. Both blog posts provide tips detailing the importance of going back to your child instincts in your adult life. I found both articles inspiring and decided to try being more like 5-year old Jessica, particularly in regards my graduate career.

I reviewed recommendations in the blog posts and selected the following:

  • Be unapologetically carefree (8 Reasons Tip 1& Shine Tip 3),
  • Wander more (8 Reasons Tip 2),
  • Be impulsive (Adulting is Killing your Vibe tip 4),
  • Be more decisive (8 Reasons Tip 7), and
  • Look for new experiences (8 Reasons Tip 8).

I completed this challenge for almost two weeks and here is what happened.


I became more adventurous and carefree. This change was a combination of tips one, two, seven and eight from Mental Floss and tip three from Shine. In an attempt to reduce my concern for other’s opinions, I worked on 8 Reasons Thinking Like a Child Will Make You Happier tip 1 (Stop caring what people think of you) and tip 3 (be your carefree self) from Adulting is Killing your Vibe. My concern for other people’s opinions of me is already pretty low in my personal life; however, I do worry about my professional brand when committing to tasks. I feel like my name is on the line and any wrong move could tarnish my reputation. So, I gave it a try. Applying this attitude to my graduate career reduced my stress and it was unexpectedly rewarding. I was still productive but my focus shifted from worrying about how projects, reports and my presentation could influence my professional future to being happy with completing tasks.

8 Reasons Thinking Like a Child Will Make You Happier also discusses the importance of being decisive (tip 7) and tip 4 in Adulting is Killing your Vibe recommends that you take more impulsive chances and see where it takes you. Typically, I am indecisive. I take my time making decisions about invitations because I consider everything else I have going, which usually results in me not doing what I want to do because I prioritize other things. Following the guidance of this recommendations increased my network and community engagement. I noticed a spike in my social activity. I started saying yes to more invitations for networking opportunities and creating some. Forcing myself to say yes to more social opportunities was probably the best part of this experiment. My network has increased, and more people are helping with my job search. I made new high profile contacts in various organizations, which have resulted in new unique opportunities.

Basically, I stopped boxing myself in. This meant speaking with my supervisor about working from home, coffee shops, parks or other places I felt inspired to work. These subtle changes in workspace resulted in unplanned creativity with projects and reports. It also helped me think outside of my office and our network for partnerships and how my colleagues and I interact with the community professionally.

Overall, being more kid-like in my professional and academic life has yielded excellent results. I suggest that you take time to read the articles and select the recommendations that are relevant to your graduate school career. If you try these suggestions, leave comments about what worked and did not work for you.

When #MLKday and #J15 Collide: Honoring *Soror* Septima Poinsette Clark

Black History.

For some people, it is a 28-day reminder (Plus the third Monday in Jan) to commemorate the achievements and contributions of Black icons. For others, it’s a reason to take a paid day off from work.  For me? It’s my worldview, my impetus for moving forward, my source of strength, and my constant reminder that we know this place.

History was always my favorite subject growing up. Coming to understand the decisions that led to the world that I inhabited, the people who influenced it, and ways by which I could become a part of something greater mobilized me in ways a graphing calculator couldn’t. But growing up, I hated MLK day programs. Not because I have a particular dislike of Dr. King (he is both brilliant AND Pham, after all), but because school programs, projects, and assignments always focused on the achievements of men like King.

Of men.

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When I was in college, I knew I wanted to join Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated…So when I inadvertently became good friends with the president of the chapter closest to my campus (I went to Hampshire, there is no such thing as greek life there), I found myself obsessed with reading about the women who made up the Sorority. The semester I initially sought (and was denied– a story for another post) membership in AKA, I was enrolled in courses at Smith College like “Feminism, Race, and Resistance” and “Race and Class in Conflict: The Rise of the Black Middle Class,” taught by Drs. Paula Giddings and Riche Barnes respectively.  I was a budding feminist scholar, aspiring member of the Black bourgeoisie, and I was done with history canonizing Black men in ways that left Black women who often did the heavy contemporary lifting as historical footnotes. It was in this semester that I learned about Soror Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987; Gamma Xi Omega).

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My annoyance with the overwhelming focus on men (and the only three** women from the Civil Rights Movement) in schools was yet again realized when I was doing Sorority Girl Research™.  I was left breathless when I realized that Soror Clark had earned the title “Queen Mother of the Movement” during the Civil Rights Movement, but that the 1965 Voting Rights Act was uniquely impacted by her organizing and commitment. A founder of the Citizenship Schools, an educational model developed to promote literacy and Black political empowerment, Clark understood well before everyone else that voting and activism that respected differences in experiences due to the intersections of race and gender were critical to the wholesale improvement of the Black community. Despite experiencing sexism at the hands of Black men we’ve immortalized, she continued to organize Black voters and fuse issues facing Black women into conversations about Civil Rights, including physical health and wellness, equal pay, and the right to engage in political activist activities despite employer disagreement.

Septima Poinsette Clark was an educator, Civil Rights activist,, queen mother of the movement and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

So, why did it take me 20 years to learn about her?

What if I hadn’t chosen AKA that semester? Afterall, both of my professors were Deltas and one even wrote an extensive history of her organization.

How many other Black and Brown girls are undereducated about the work of our foremothers?

How DID I not know her?

Why doesn’t anyone talk about the ways in which King et. al. used her for her labor but never acknowledged her presence?

I already know some answers to these questions. That said, instead of focusing solely on what has been done wrong to my Soror by our own people (my lack of knowledge before 20 included), I instead choose to lift her up. To say her name. To use the intersection of #J15 and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Day and acknowledge the ways in which history, like time, is cyclical and Black women remain at the forefront of movements related to using the vote to improve the Black community. I choose to highlight how Black women, by saving ourselves, continue to save the willfully ignorant who surround us.

So here are 10 things you need to know about Septima Clark:

    1. She directed Highlander’s Citizenship School where she emphasized literacy and civic engagement;
    2. She fought for and won equal pay for Black teachers in 1945;
    3. She served as SCLC director of education and teaching;
    4. In 1975, she became the first Black person to serve on the Charleston School Board;
    5. Rosa Parks attended one of her Citizenship School grassroots social justice education workshops a few months before the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott;
    6. The citizenship school model became a framework for SNCC’s Freedom Schools
    7. In 1979, then-president Jimmy Carter honored her with a Living Legacy Award;
    8. Her mantra was “Literacy means liberation,” words to live by in a 45 presidential era;
    9. She was the first ever keynote at the National Organization of Women NOW Convention and discussed “The Need of Women Challenging Male Dominance,” an experience she knew firsthand through her interactions with people like the beloved Dr. King;
    10. She holds an honorary doctorate from College of Charleston.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day and 110 years of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. sisterhood on January 15, 2018, I give thanks for her legacy, share this post in appreciation for her dedication, and am grateful for her embodiment to service to all mankind.  To our Ivy Beyond The Wall, and unsung hero, Soror Septima Poinsette Clark, I give thanks.


**  I say this tongue in cheek, but let’s be real… History books, classes, authors, etc. do not do right by Black women. If they did, #CiteASista wouldn’t exist.

 

Check out Dr. Marvette Lacy on Finding A Dissertation Topic

February 8, 2016, I went to my counseling appointment with a nice, white lady.

Nice, white lady: How was your weekend?

Marvette: It was okay. Didn’t do too much. Enjoyed some much needed alone time.

Nice, white lady: Oh, I thought you would’ve mentioned Beyonce’ at the Superbowl.

Marvette: Oh yeah, that was a cool surprise.

Nice, white lady: Why would she do that?

Marvette: *confused look*

Nice, white lady: Why would she support that terrorist organization? The Black Panthers! I was just meeting with a client whose father (that was a cop) was killed by the Black Panthers.

Collective sigh.

 

Read more: http://www.marvettelacy.com/finding-a-dissertation-topic/