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M. Billye Sankofa Waters, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
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M. Billye Sankofa Waters, Ph.D. (daughter of Mary and Bill) is a Hip Hop generation Blackgirl from the South Side of Chicago who curates storytelling toward everyday practices of liberation. She is the author of Penetrated Soul: somethingsihadtorelease (2002), We Can Speak for Ourselves: Parent Involvement and Ideologies of Black Mothers in Chicago (2016), and co-editor of Celebrating Twenty Years of Black Girlhood: The Lauryn Hill Reader (with Bettina L. Love & Venus Evans-Winters, 2019) and How We Got Here: The Role of Critical Mentoring and Social Justice Praxis (with Marta Sánchez, 2020). She grounds her work in Black storytelling / critical literacies, qualitative research methods, community praxis & liberatory education, Black feminism and critical race theory.

Her current project is birthed from the question: "How do Black folx cultivate everyday practices of liberation?" To address this, Sankofa Waters center the voices of 13 folx (interviewed between 2021- 2022.) Each person was born within the critical influence of Hip Hop across the Deep South, NY and the Midwest. The stortytellers pivot away from DuBois’ musings regarding the white gaze in 1903, “what does it feel like to be a problem,” and pivot toward #BlackFolxAreRich. This work disrupts institutional anti-Black racism (specifically naming schools) to prioritize home, which is necessary to cultivate Black folx’ wholeness and autonomy (liberation).

Sankofa Waters attended Howard University and Olive Harvey City College, earned her Bachelors at Columbia College Chicago (Fiction Writing/Black World Studies,) and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Education.) She began formally working in various education spaces in 1998 and has been teaching faculty in Schools of Education since 2012. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Washington Tacoma.

She is a member of various academic and professional organizations including the American Educational Research Association (2018–2021 Hip Hop Theories, Praxis & Pedagogies SIG Executive Board member); National Women's Studies Association (2018–2020 Governing Council Member and 2015 Women of Color Leadership Project fellow); and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Selected Publications

Black storytellers and everyday liberation: At the nexus of home, school, and Hip Hop. Qualitative Inquiry. doi: (2022)

Sánchez, M. & Sankofa Waters, M. B. (Eds.). (2020). How we got here: The role of critical mentoring, love and teaching in preparing new generations of social justice scholars. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers.

Sankofa Waters, M. B., Evans-Winters, V., & Love, B. L. (Eds.). (2019). Celebrating twenty years of Black girlhood: The Lauryn Hill reader. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Sankofa Waters, B. (2016). We can speak for ourselves: Parent involvement and ideologies of Black mothers in Chicago. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Rhodes, B. (2002). Penetrated soul: somethingsihadtorelease. Chicago, IL: Onyx Roads Books.