M. Billye Sankofa Waters, Ph.D.

[em  /  BILL-ee  /  san-KO-fuh-WAH-ters]

M. Billye Sankofa Waters identifies as a Hip Hop generation Blackgirl from the South Side of Chicago, who writes. She grounds her work in Black feminism, critical race theory, abolitionist teaching, Black women writers and qualitative inquiry. Sankofa Waters is the Founding Executive Director of the nonprofit charity, Blackgirl Gold Unapologetic, Inc., which builds various scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate Blackgirls, and she currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Washington Tacoma. In 2020, she created Radical Identity Praxis [RIP] – four movements toward the assertion that folx who actively re/claim their intersectional identities, engender everyday practices of liberation. RIP uses CRT, Black feminism, Hip Hop and critical ethnography to build personal, family, and community archives with and for Black folx.


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 Sanchez, 2020). She has contributed work to various publications such as Race Ethnicity and Education and PraxisCenter. ​

Dr. B earned her B.A. in Fiction Writing and was the first graduate of the Black World Studies program at Columbia College Chicago. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Education (Culture, Curriculum, and Change program) at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has been teaching faculty in Schools of Education since 2012. "I teach and learn with teachers, administrators, nonprofit organizers, student organizers, career changers and all the grays between." 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.


She cites A Different World, Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka, gospel choirs, Audre Lorde, The Low End Theory, and growing up on the South Side of Chicago as a handful of critical influences.

Academic CV Link