September 2020 Panel

Panel Banner: Black Girlhood and Educational Narratives


Watch our September Panel Discussion on YouTube



Our September 8, 2020 discussion covered Black Girlhood and Educational Narratives: A Back-to-School Discussion.


Drawing from Lewis's and other research on Black girlhood and play, this panel (featuring two creative writers and current and former educators) will discuss narratives of how educational spaces both provide social access for Black girls to explore their identities and limits the freedom they seek by regulating and disciplining their bodies.  Using films and texts written and directed by Black women (Dee Rees' Pariah, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, and Sapphire's PUSH) along with context of Black girlhood in the preschool to prison pipeline discussed by Monique Morris, this conversation will explore issues and opportunities in educating Black girls in contemporary educational settings (including virtual access brought on by COVID-19).

Our Moderator

Dr. Janaka Lewis, photo

Janaka Bowman Lewis, Ph.D. is Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, Interim Director of the Center for the Study of the New South, and Associate Professor of English at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she teaches courses in African American women's writing and girlhood studies. She is the author of several book chapters and articles on 19th Century African American women's writing and material culture, a monograph Freedom Narratives of African American Women (McFarland 2017), and two children's books (Brown All Over and Bold Nia Marie Passes the Test).  Her current monograph in progress is on representations of black girlhood in American literature and film.  Dr. Lewis may be reached at

Our Panelists

Ashley Nickens, photo

Ashley Nickens is an educator and storysharer born in Maryland, raised in Virginia, and made a woman in North Carolina. Her work is inspired by her ancestral connection to Southeastern land, and centers Black femme spirituality and sexuality. She works with the #SmartBrownGirl Book Club, and is the founder of SISTORIES LITMAG, an interactive Black feminist literary magazine and community writing workshop.  Ashley is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow Alum and a 2020 Resident Artist at The Roll Up Charlotte. She earned her bachelors in English Education from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is currently working towards a masters in their Liberal Studies program.  Ashley Nickens may be reached online via Twitter at @sistoriesclt, via Instagram at @sistoriesclt, or through

Patrice Wilson, photo

Patrice N. Wilson is an Educator, language enthusiast, Spoken word artist and creative, from Charlotte, N.C. Patrice received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the  University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Through her educational and creative pursuits, Patrice champions diversity, intersectionality, equity, communal connection and understanding. Patrice believes that education and action, if used correctly, can be vehicles for sustainable growth and change within society.  Patrice may be reached by email at, via Instagram at @patricehere, and her podcast "Intentionally E.Y.E" is available on Spotify and Anchor.