Women of Color and the Academy (WOCATA)
A photography project
For this project, I asked ten Women of Color whom I know and I admire if I could accompany them throughout portions of their day at the University of Michigan School of Education. I started this project hoping to feature the ways in which these women persist within this predominantly white institution. I accompanied these women through class sessions, research team meetings, and study breaks. I selected nine photographs to represent my time with these women.
What I see in these photographs are the ways in which these Women of Color have created spaces for themselves to thrive within this predominantly white institution. In a space that is often isolating, Women of Color find community and solidarity. Within these images I see the ways in which these women have found their supportive community and I feel these women’s enthusiastic presence with each other. In a space that is often silencing and invisibilizing, Women of Color mark their existence. Within these images I see the ways in which these women have made the richness and complexities of their lives visible in the space that surrounds them.
As a Woman of Color, I see myself reflected in these images. These women inspire me, and these images of their persistence gives me hope as I also try to navigate this space that was not made for me. As the photographer, I feel present in these images. The women who are the subjects of the photographs are my community. This collection of final images is a lasting mark of our persistence, survival, and joy.
Women of Color are brilliant, beautiful, and resilient. This brilliance, beauty, and resilience exists despite the oppressive space of a predominantly white institution.