My purpose in life is to empower myself to empower others. I write as a commitment to my connection with my own creative power and the belief that creative energy is transferable and thus can empower others.
I have written all my life. I started my career as an English major at the University of Iowa (minors in African-American Studies and Philosophy) and got a Master’s degree in Literary Studies. Though I went on to Vanderbilt to get a master’s and doctorate in sociology, and a law degree, writing is my first love.
My most recent work, A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about Race, Class, and Gender in America, is a tribute to my mother, Mildred Pratt. She grew up in rural Texas in the 1930s during the Great Depression in America, picking cotton and trying to survive with a single mother and seven siblings. She wrote her own autobiography — almost finishing it before she died — of her journey from picking cotton to becoming a full professor at a time in America when less than 1% of full professors were Black women. She asked me to tell her story for her and I spent the last five years after her death transcribing the handwritten notes on the background of this website. I’m thrilled to be able to share her journey with you.
My career path has been one focused on scholarship, activism, and leadership. I recognize, in particular, that because of the challenges that women of color experience in the world by virtue of both their race and gender and the way in which racism and sexism is operationalized in their lives, there is a societal imperative to work towards the elimination of barriers that impede the opportunity for women of color to manifest their full potential in society.
I also acknowledge that the reality of hegemonic ideologies and their operations is not limited to women of color. They affect many individuals in our world who have identities that have been marginalized in society. These identities often involve religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ability, military status, economic status, and political beliefs. As such, I believe that there is a responsibility in society to work towards the elimination of inequality, whatever the cause, for inequality lessens the humanity of us all.
And…for what are we here…but to express and share our humanity… fully.