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I am Dr. Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D. aka “Professor G” and I have a global mission: to empower emerging adults to own their own greatness. Teaching about gender in hip-hop, racism or sociology are some of my tools.
Sass & New Jack Pedagogy is designed to inspire, to inspire curiosity through objective agitation, and to tell stories of how I challenge my own status quo thinking as a hip-hop professor, a social media geek, a coach and a black woman committed to the empowerment of all.
I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
- James Baldwin
Emerging adulthood is that phase of life between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood, a term coined by Jeffrey Arnett (2000). A little adolescence is lurking in us all when we aren’t managing up, asking for what we need, inviting collaboration, or demanding what makes us (and others) happy then stepping when we are not. All of us are working out the phase of our emerging adulthood but esp. students in higher ed. I mentor and empower emerging adults of all ages to own their own greatness.
“Does my Sassiness Upset You?”: Sapphire as Inspiration
Sapphire was the mammy figure popularized during the Jim Crow era who had the audacity to say the unsaid but she had no power.
A gemstone associated with the zodiac sign Virgo (my birthstone)
A racial and gendered caricature; the black woman as maid popularized during the Jim Crow era (1930 – 60s).
A sassy, borderline impertinent, but loyal black mammy; she’s like family with no white privilege; free but enslaved.
Loud and raucous but never a threat to the existing social order.
What I’ve been up to as a professor is my own version of the process of “flame fusion” used to create sapphires. In other words, I empower emerging adults to agitate themselves out of their comfort zone as great students, professionals and great human beings now. I’d say I operate like the sassy Sapphire caricature only this time its all about challenging the status quo.
As a professor, a TED Fellow and an award-winning author, I challenge existing cultures. I challenge the learned ways we limit access to power, limit learning and education, limit the feminine, limit people of color, and/or limit experiencing the remarkable oneness of humanity.
Er’rybody Wants to Change the World…
Voicing your truth is always sassy and impertinent to those who live off your smallness. But consider this: your truth is the opportunity the universe presents for you to be courageous, to be true to your own light, your own voice. That’s a BIG deal in a world that seems to constantly try to burn out your tongue! All kinds of conversations expect our silence, but the real power comes in the breaking of that silence.
Like “Sapphire”, we each have the ability or desire to go beyond our inherited identities or education. Too often we blame social forces or circumstances for convincing us we better be stick with the status quo.
I think a certain kind of Sapphire-ness–sass, agitation and impertinence particularly concerning yourself–is demanded of us especially when “everybody wants to change the world,” so Tolstoy once said, “but not one wants to change them self.”
This blog is a challenge to myself, to comply with my own voice, speak my own sass, sing my own song.
More about Professor G:
Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D. is a TED Fellow, a singer-songwriter, and scholar of the award-winning book The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop. My first book won the 2007 Alan Merriam Prize awarded by the Society for Ethnomusicology. She currently teaches courses in anthropology, sociology, racism and courses on hip-hop music and culture but she is a trained ethnomusicologist receiving her doctorate from the University of Michigan.
Her music is available on iTunes, CDBaby, and her talks, including TEDx talks, are available on YouTube.
She is a sought after speaker nationally and internationally having inspired students in China, Moldova and Norway to name a few.
For more on speaking engagements, workshops, and coaching price plans:, email email@example.com
Follow her on Twitter: @kyraOcity.