The last few years have been tough for everyone, but among the groups who’ve had it the toughest are teachers.
A growing number of educators are overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid and their discontent is visible in the labor force. They’ve been forced to drastically pivot their classroom structure to accommodate shelter-in-place mandates, but the administrative expectations have held steady. For example, a survey of U.S. public sector workers released in October found that K-12 and some professors were the most likely to report higher levels of anxiety, stress and burnout due to stringent goals set by their superiors.
But, as staff shortages deepen across the country and workload increases, some educators are holding steady to provide their students with great educations, even in the midst of terse racial and political battles as Black women in academia.
Teachers have always been superheroes, but they especially deserve their flowers at this time. Here are four Black women educators that are worth celebrating.
Dr. Alondra Nelson
Alondra Nelson is the Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. She currently leads the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A scholar of science, technology, medicine, and social inequality, Nelson is author, most recently, of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. Her books also include Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination; Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History; and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. She is also editor of “Afrofuturism.”
Dr. Traci Baxley
An Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Traci Baxley focuses her work on literacy disparity among underserved elementary school children. This is intersectional to her life, because as a mother to five bi-racial children, her teachings center on fostering the next generation of anti-racist citizens.
Dr. Anne-Maria Makhulu
As the Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African & African American Studies at Duke University, Dr. Makhulu champions social justice, anti-racism, and equity. Her well-received research on South Africa
shapes her courses on the Black Radical Tradition, the History of Apartheid South Africa, Moral Economy, and Cultural. Anthropology.
Dr. Rediet Abebe
Since the beginning of her career, Dr. Rediet Abebe’s focus has been on bridging the gap between technology and social good. She’s an assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley, and is a household name among Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts. One of the founders of Black in AI, she spearheaded the group and ended up garnering international attention due to the abrupt firing of AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru from Google in 2020.