Transforming the Ivory Tower Competition

Transforming the Ivory Tower Competition

Transforming the Ivory Tower: Models for Gender Equality & Social Justice
Opportunity to present a 3-minute review at the
UK Book Launch | Friday 3rd July 2020 at 7.00pm | London
The launch of Transforming the Ivory Tower will support the principal aim of the Black Sister Network ‘To empower Black women and women of colour within and beyond academia.

This competition provides a unique opportunity for 8 individuals to win:

  • A signed copy of ‘Transforming the Ivory Tower’.
  • A pre-launch photoshoot & champagne reception with the author & contributors.
  • The opportunity to review a chapter that will be assigned to you.
  • The opportunity to participate at the launch by reading your review.
  • The opportunity to have your full review (300 words maximum) published on the Black British Academics website.
 Competition Questions
  1. What does the chapter you selected teach us about social transformation and empowerment in relation to Black women and women of colour?
  2. What action (s) have you taken in the past to resist, challenge or disrupt race and gender inequality?
  3. How will you use the knowledge from the chapter to inform your future contribution to the mission of Black Sister Network?
Competition Rules
  • Entrants must be aged 18 and over.
  • Entrants can be of any race/ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but you must demonstrate in your submission how you presently and/or will in the future support and advance the principal aim of the Black Sister Network and contribute towards its mission.
  • Entrants do not have to be UK residents but must be able to attend the book launch in London on Friday 3rd July 2020.
  • Only one competition entry per person is permitted.
  • No cash payments will be made in lieu of prizes.
  • The deadline for entries is midnight on Monday 30th March 2020.
  • Entries will be evaluated by a panel made up Ivory Tower contributors chaired by Dr Deborah Gabriel.
  • Winners will be notified by Monday 27th April 2020.


Transforming the Ivory Tower Excerpts

Chapter One
Teaching to transgress through 3D Pedagogy: Decolonising, democratising and diversifying the higher education curriculum | Deborah Gabriel

Devotion to teaching and pedagogy is rarely rewarded in academia. The time and effort involved in developing, delivering and evaluating critical pedagogy means sacrificing time spent on pursuing research topics deemed important to the faculty regime – and race falls firmly outside that sphere of significance determined by predominantly White male and female academics. Nonetheless, like hooks (1994:202) I believe ‘engaged pedagogy has been essential to my development as an intellectual’ and that it ‘is an expression of political activism’.

Chapter Two
Building the antiracist classroom: How the collective makes the radical possible | Deborah N. Brewis, Sadhvi Dar, Angela Martinez Dy, Helena Liu, Udeni Salmon on behalf of Building the Antiracist Classroom (BARC) Collective

Our own differences are both challenging and generative; they must inform as Lorde cautions, the aims of liberation. When accounting for BARC, we must also be vigilant of when and how systems of power and privilege obscure us from our aims. Differences between marginalised communities can be readily mobilised to disassemble solidarity and therefore a necessary part of organising collectively is to acknowledge and take seriously that power struggles, misogyny, anti-Blackness, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and other forms of oppressive politics also exist among communities of colour. To be a collective is to refuse the forces that would see us driven apart entirely by these differences and to nourish those bonds that bring us together.

Chapter Three
Addressing barriers to STEM for young Black women through mentoring |  Elizabeth Opara

The current emphasis of the science curriculum is primarily on past and present glories and pursuits of scientific knowledge that are Eurocentric and/or perceived to be dependent on the expertise and financial aid of Western countries and former colonisers. This emphasis portrays Black people and their contributions to science as non-existent, inferior or insignificant (Nordling, 2018, Roy, 2018). In my role as a science educator I am seeking  to make it clear that no single group has ‘cultural superiority’ (Roy, 2018), Black scientists are leading research in areas that yield insights necessary for the advancement of their communities, countries and continents (Guglielmi, 2019, Kruger 2018, Nordling, 2018, Roy, 2018).

Chapter Four

Emancipatory research on FGM policy with women of African descentIma Jackson

This small study was developed with African communities in Scotland who felt dissonance and disconnect between what they were saying and what was being heard within a national consultation process. Our overall ambition was to co-create research with women and girls from potentially practising communities, support their ambition of being given time and space to think about the issues that affect them, and direct that into policy and practice. We aimed to feed the findings from the direct experiences of working with those affected and to explore the system of knowledge exchange within policy and education concerning FGM.

Chapter Five
Tackling racism and racial inequality in social work education and practice | Josephine Kwhali

I could not stand apart from the issues faced by Black people because I was one of them and subject to the same racism and its resultant erosion of one’s humanity. I lived and worked in inner cities in both London and the Midlands where I witnessed Black children trying to scrub off their colour and being told to ignore the racial insults to which they were exposed. ‘Coloured’ children, as they were then referred to, were over-represented in care, especially those of dual Black/White parentage (Rowe & Lambert, 1973). Eighty per cent of White foster carers refused to take ‘coloured’ children who were generally viewed as both undesirable and hard to place (Patterson cited in Kirton, 2000).

Chapter Seven
Decoloniality and intersectional feminism: In conversation with Shirley Anne Tate | Deborah Gabriel


Do you think the lack of people of colour in leadership roles limits the potential for radical change?


Yes, I think that is a problem. It’s a matter of numbers, but it’s also a matter of White protectionism. They protect their culture because they get something from it; they protect their curriculum because they get something from it, and they protect jobs for each other because they get something from it. We don’t get promoted because they won’t get anything from that, and we are not negotiated with to keep us in the institution if we get a better offer elsewhere because they don’t get anything from that.  So, to say we need more Black people and people of colour is completely true. We work in institutions that are basically anti-Black.

Chapter Eight
Disrupting whiteness in higher education through Teaching Within: In conversation with Aisha Richards | Deborah Gabriel


Do you think that diversity as a concept has been appropriated within the corporate, marketized environment in academia, and is essentially depoliticised and disconnected from social justice?


Yes, absolutely. The misappropriation of our work happens often. Shades of Noir and all our work is steeped in and comes from pain and that cannot be replicated nor the life experience that has caused the pain. As a Black woman born and educated in the UK, I have navigated racist structures throughout my life and the nuances of what that means to me personally. I have all sorts of thoughts and ideas on how things can change but I don’t believe that an institution predominantly run by White folk has the knowledge and life experience to deliver this work in the way I do.

Chapter Nine
The power of story: Leading conversations of inclusion, equity and justice through community engagement: In conversation with Virginia Cumberbatch | Deborah Gabriel


What legacy would you like to leave for future generations?


I would love to disrupt institutionalised racism in education; I would love to build housing equity in Austin. But in terms of the purpose I feel I have been called to do; it is helping people of colour to realise how valuable their stories are. Also, that their stories are not just for preservation, not just to talk about the pain and hurt of living in this country but their stories are a powerful tool for disrupting all of the injustices we have faced as a people.

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Transforming the Ivory Tower

Models for Gender Equality and Social Justice


This new edited volume is centred on transformation in teaching, research, professional and community practice aimed at addressing race and gender disparities with a focus on tackling whiteness as a recurrent theme in Inside the Ivory Tower (IT1). This research is unique in providing case studies that highlight self-defined and negotiated pathways for race and gender equality developed by Black women and women of colour as change makers. It documents how the contributors navigate challenging spaces to create meaningful roles that contribute to social justice.
This volume draws on critical race theory, Black Feminism and participatory witnessing – an alternative research approach where women bear testimony, facilitating self-representation and co-theorising with the author. It brings new intersectional voices to the Ivory Tower project from the USA, Canada and Australia and from LGBTQ perspectives, whilst maintaining continuity in highlighting the transformative work of some of the UK contributors to IT1.
This research is significant in highlighting the often-unacknowledged contributions to the knowledge economy and wider society to advance race and gender equality and the narratives privilege the lived experience, intellectual, social and cultural capital of women of colour.
“I consider the Ivory Tower project to be significant and salient during an era where Black women continue to be undervalued in our personal and professional lives, and when the very strategies we develop to uplift ourselves: Me Too Campaign (Tarana Burke); Intersectionality (Kimberle Crenshaw); Black Lives Matter (Alicia Garzia, Patrice Cullors, Opal Tometi) are crudely and brazenly appropriated, often by those in positions of power and privilege who erase us in the process of elevating  themselves in a way that depoliticizes the essence of our resistance.”
Deborah Gabriel (page 82)
Read our position on Black Lives Matter
‘This ground-breaking collection illuminates Black women’s perspectives on how they navigate the intersections of whiteness and masculinities in challenging and hostile university environments and transform the ‘Ivory Tower’  imagining teaching, research and community engagement in new ways. It offers powerful and internationally diverse autoethnographic and theoretical insights into how it is possible collaboratively to produce meaningful change in the direction of social justice. In a period marked by burgeoning recognition of how universities perpetuate social inequalities, it constitutes an invaluable resource.’
Ann Phoenix, Professor of Psychosocial Studies, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education


‘Drawing on the lived experiences of Black women at the forefront of transforming academic practice, Transforming the Ivory Tower suggests that decolonisation and privilege are central in the pursuit for social justice in higher education and beyond. Deborah Gabriel’s important collection exposes the deeply entrenched inequalities in academia, whilst also serving as a critical source of inspiration and solidarity.’
Sarita Malik, Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at Brunel University 

“Transforming the Ivory Tower is  an essential and accessible read for scholars, activists and anyone who operates at a grassroots level, who seeks to effect critical change in their area of expertise.”
William Henry, Professor of Criminology & Sociology, University of West London




“In keeping with the revolutionary Black Feminist tradition of embodied grassroots theorising pioneered by bell hooks and Audrey Lorde, the contributors share their own experiences to build a collective feminist toolkit for survival inside the racist-sexist academy.” (read the rest at Media Diversity Institute)
“Woven through this collection are powerful tales of action in University settings to challenge and disrupt the comfortable world of the maintenance and preservation of a potent regime of cultural power…Yet through it all I was reminded that I’m not the primary audience – a late middle aged white bloke with the word ‘professor’ in a title (even if is an honorary title, and associate, not full). This is primarily aimed at members of the academic community whom that community excludes from power and full membership, whose work grounded in their worlds is not recognised as of standing in that academic world, and whose attempts to challenge and disrupt academia exacerbates their marginalisation…Highly recommended. (read the rest on Goodreads)
“The women’s stories of courage and backlash in their struggle for equality reverberate these issues that many women of color, face not only in academia but in other sectors as well as around the globe. Their stories show us the importance of collaboration, engaging in strategies, and the continuous decolonizing of our minds.” (read the rest on
“Transforming the Ivory Tower provides a timely contribution to teaching, research, community and practice within Higher Education. The book presents the voices from across the academic landscape and continues to celebrate our sisters from around the world past and present.” (read on
“In the three year period, since they first spoke truth to power about the institutional racism and systemic inequalities which abound in the corridors and campuses of academic institutions across the UK, IT2 showcases their amazing efforts and successes, but also the work still to be done, if meaningful and lasting change is to be achieved.” (by competition winner Sheila Freeman)
“As universities have rushed to share statements of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, Transforming the Ivory Tower provides direction towards some of the issues that need to be addressed, and importantly, the transformational work being done within and beyond academia by Black women.” (read the rest by Jessica Oddy)
View Table of Contents HERE
Read Excerpts From the Book HERE
Editor: Dr Deborah Gabriel
Contributors (Writers): 
Dr Deborah N Brewis
Dr Sadhvi Dar
Dr Angela Martinez Dy
Dr Deborah Gabriel
Prof William Lez Henry (foreword)
Dr Ima Jackson
Dr Josephine Kwhali
Dr Helena Liu
Dr Elizabeth Opara
Dr Udeni Salmon
Contributors (Featured): 
Virginia Cumberbatch
Aisha Richards
Prof. Shirley Anne Tate
Publisher: UCL Press
Publication Date: 22 June 2020
978-1-85856-677-1 (paperback)
978-1-85856-913-0 (PDF eBook)
978-1-85856-914-7 (ePub eBook)
978-1-85856-915-4 (Kindle eBook
Competition Winners
Congratulations to Sheila Freeman, Saskia McKoy and Shardia Briscoe-Palmer who will each receive a signed copy of our book and the opportunity to participate at our future launch event.
What action (s) have you taken in the past to resist, challenge or disrupt race and gender inequality?
“One of the most powerful actions I have taken recently was to say no to being part of a departmental level project after realising my participation was merely tokenism.”
How will you use the knowledge from the chapter to inform your future contribution to the mission of Black Sister Network?
“As a regular engager in critical race studies activities and events, I will continue to be involved in discourse and activism and share stories of how we, as Black women, can unite to fight oppressive practices.”
How will you use the knowledge from the chapter to inform your future contribution to the mission of Black Sister Network?
“I will use this knowledge to inform myself and others on how to combat intersectional injustice and to empower them within and beyond STEM.”