Pushing back against the mammy


Black women scholars
Racial experiences in academia
Social Justice in higher education
Adult online learning
Racial Counterstorytelling
Critical Black Feminism

How to Cite

Wilson, C. E. and Primus, N. (2021) “Pushing back against the mammy: Reflections on Teaching Equity Online at a PWI”, Journal of African American Women and Girls in Education, 1(3), pp. 45–64. doi: 10.21423/jaawge-v1i3a51.


This study focuses on two Black women professors processing their experiences teaching an online equity in education course, to in-service education professionals, in a masters program. Using Narratives of Experience, Critical Race Theory, and Critical Black Feminism as our theoretical frames, we push back against the pressure for us to perform as caricature mammies to our students. Examining the experiences of Black women educator counternarratives as a self-study, the themes that emerged were: historic (re)memory; preparation, competency, and motivations; aggressions; coping mechanisms; and awareness. As endeavors to make the academy more diverse, accessible, and equitable, are pursued, the higher education community must be able to ascertain the costs (to health, safety, and overall well-being) when asking or assigning social justice/equity courses, even if the content is well within the instructors professional purview. As online courses make education more accessible and convenient for both students and universities, attention should be paid to this unique learning environment for Black faculty which continues to be a space where invisibility and erasure remain unchecked. To push back against the mammy, there must be systematic action to incorporating all the nuance that Black womanhood embodies, especially in spaces where we have been positioned to identify or perform only as a caricature. To dismantle this insidious trope, future research must incorporate women scholars of color as principal investigators and research partners, prioritizing their voice to be incorporated in the telling of their stories.