Dear Health Promotion Scholar: Letters of Life From, for, and About Black Women in Academia


Health Promotion and Physical Education

Document Type


Publication Date



Black women are change agents actively working within their power to combat systemic racism in academia, while constantly battling injustices. Understanding lived realities and experiences of racial ethnic minority women as “outsiders within” is crucial for confronting long-standing racism embedded within academic spaces. Institutions may be outwardly addressing racial injustice, and perpetuating injustices internally, whether known or unknown. Using a relational dialectics framework and letter writing style, the purpose of this commentary is to describe the complexities present in experiences of Black women as they navigate academia as change agents, from the perspectives of tenure track and tenured faculty members in predominately White institutions. Black women academics contend with the push and pull of being in relationship with students, colleagues, and predominately White institutions; these tensions illuminate the experience of both/and-ness creating a constant presence of uncertainty/certainty, pushing/pivoting, and conforming/disrupting among others. Black women faculty are actively working to overcome barriers in research and practice and actively recognizing how racism is acting in academic settings. Black women are dealing with their own personal/professional situations, while also advocating interpersonally through mentorship, institutionally through incorporating underrepresented voices in research/practice, and strategically through addressing policies prompting action. This commentary shares the breadth, scope, and uniqueness of Black women experiences in higher education. This article concludes with implications for practice, including utilizing dialectic introspection to illuminate Black women, disrupting the norm by utilizing letters to center Black women, and building collectives to foster connections.

Journal Title

Health Promotion Practice

Journal ISSN






First Page


Last Page


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)