Black Women, Ivory Tower

Revealing the Lies of White Supremacy in American Education

Black Women, Ivory Tower

Revealing the Lies of White Supremacy in American Education

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A first-of-its-kind compelling exploration of what it means to be a Black woman in higher education.

Black women are heading to college in record numbers, and more and more Black women are teaching in higher education. But increasing numbers in college don't guarantee our safety there. Willpower and grit may improve achievement for Black people in school, but they don't secure our belonging. In fact, the very structure of higher education ensures that we're treated as guests, outsiders to the institutional family--outnumbered and unwelcome.

Dr. Jasmine Harris shares her own experiences attempting to be a Vassar girl and reckoning with a lack of legacy and agency. Moving beyond the "data points", Dr. Harris examines the day-to-day impacts on Black women as individuals, the longer-term consequences to our professional lives, and the generational costs to our entire families.

"I want to arm as many Black girls and women as I can with the knowledge about these spaces that I lacked," says Dr. Harris. "By laying bare my own traumas, and those of Black women before me, I am providing them the tools to protect themselves, with an understanding of how deliberately many institutions will try to undercut them."

Trial and error has been required of Black students to navigate systems of discrimination and disadvantage. But this book now offers useful support, illuminating the community of Black women dealing with similar issues. The author's story is not unusual, nor are her interactions anomalies. Black Women, Ivory Tower explores why.

Download the Black Women, Ivory Tower discussion guide—perfect for use in classrooms, faculty development, small groups, and individual reflection.


"In what is at once a cautionary tale and an inspiring story of survival and lifelong healing, Harris courageously disrupts the respectability politics that silence Black women and girls. In so doing, she gifts her readers with a clear-eyed, beautifully written critique of white supremacy, sexism, and class inequality in academia. This powerful and insightful book is a love letter to Black students and scholars, past and present."

--Crystal M. Fleming, professor of sociology at SUNY Stony Brook, and author of Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight Against White Supremacy

"Dr. Harris makes a valuable contribution to literature that critiques the meritocracy myth. I recognized many facets of my own journey through the academy, and I think many other Black scholars will too. For those unfamiliar with what it means to be a Black woman in the academy, this is an essential book."

--Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, cosmologist, physicist, and author of The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

"In this deeply personal and powerfully political book, Dr. Jasmine L. Harris writes movingly about the desire to belong in organizations premised on racial and gender exclusion, and America's long history of denying equal educational opportunity to Black people. Dr. Harris's journey shows the personal toll that America's separate and unequal educational system can inflict on successful Black Americans."

--Victor Ray, F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology and African American Studies, University of Iowa; nonresident fellow in governance studies, The Brookings Institution


Harris's weighty ruminations may serve as either a cautionary tale or a wake-up call for Black women readers, young and older, who are considering higher education. Readers interested in social issues within academia should also peruse the book.--Anjelica Rufus-Barnes 

Library Journal

Recent controversies with legacy admittances to universities in the United States make this book a timely volume for readers wanting more background on the topic of racism in academia. Black Women, Ivory Tower is highly recommended for academic and public libraries and for readers who are interested in systemic racism and higher education.


Articulate, informative, extraordinary, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, Black Women, Ivory Tower will be of immense interest to professional and non-specialist readers who have an interest in African American college/university life and demographics...a high value and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections and supplemental Contemporary Black Studies curriculum lists.

Midwest Book Review

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506489834
  • eBook ISBN 9781506489841
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 196
  • Publication Date January 16, 2024