Follows a Black woman's forty-year career in academia, sharing how race and gender can disrupt and enhance the professional and the personal, from leadership and policies to family life.
Finalist for the 2021 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the Education Category
In Sisterlocking Discoarse, hair is a medium for reflecting on how academic leadership looks, performs, and changes when embodied by a Black woman. In these ten essays, Valerie Lee traverses disciplines and genres, weaving together memoir, literary analysis, legal cases, folklore, letters, travelogues, family photographs, and cartoons to share her story of navigating academia. Lee's path is not singular or linear, but rather communal and circular as she revisits her earliest years in her grandmother's home, advances through the professoriate and senior administration, and addresses her hopes and fears for her own children. Drawing inspiration from the African American storytelling traditions she has spent decades studying and teaching, Lee approaches issues of race, gender, social justice, academic labor, and leadership with a voice that is clear, intimate, and humorous. As she writes in the introduction, "Sisterlocking Discoarse is about braiding and breathing and believing that a Black woman's journey through the academy is important." Lee's journey will appeal to students, faculty, and administrators across fields and institutions who are committed to making higher education more inclusive, while speaking to the experiences of professional women of color more broadly.
Valerie Lee is Professor Emerita of English at The Ohio State University. She is the author of Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers: Double-Dutched Readings and the editor of The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature.
"Not only is a book like this needed in the academy—this is the book that is needed. " — Raechele L. Pope, coauthor of Creating Multicultural Change on Campus