Introduction to Fat Phobia and Anti-Blackness in K - 12 and Teacher Education - National Council of Teachers of English


Part of the NCTE Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity’s charge is the duty to “foster diversity and inclusivity among members and potential members, including (but not restricted to) in terms of race, ethnicity, sex and gender identity, age, economic status, physical ability, and teaching circumstances.” Members of the committee Dywanna Smith and Jarvais Jackson will bring their expertise on this subject to an upcoming webinar. All NCTE members are invited to participate in this unique professional learning opportunity.

In the first of a three-part series, participants will be provided foundational understandings for K-12 classrooms and teacher education programs about the intersections of racism, fat phobia, and anti-Blackness, including historical contexts, manifestations in school contexts, and real-world marginalization effects on students, teachers, and communities.


Introduction to Fat Phobia and Anti-Blackness in K–12 and Teacher Education

February 8, 2024, 7:00–8:00 p.m. ET


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Facilitated by

Dr. Dywanna E. Smith is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Claflin University. There she serves as Middle Level Education Program Coordinator and Interim Assessment Coordinator. Dr. Smith’s work is grounded in ethnopoetics. She utilizes poetry to speak to the realities of Black girls and women and to resist and respond to racism, sexism, sizism, and misogynoir. As a scholar-educator, Dr. Smith’s research focuses on two related interests: 1) examining the intersections of race, literacies, and education, and 2) equipping teachers with equity pedagogies to successfully teach linguistically and culturally diverse students. She has presented nationally and internationally on these subjects.

Dr. Smith is a Fulbright Scholar Project Participant and a graduating member of the National Council of English’s prestigious Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color (CNV) program. She has presented alongside her CNV cohort on “(Re)Membering: Black Women Engaging Memory through Journaling” at the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Currently, Dr. Smith is a guest coeditor for a special issue in English Teaching: Practice & Critique titled “It’s About Damn Time: Learning and Loving from the Fat Frame.”

Dr. Smith received her doctorate in language and literacy from the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation interpreted how eighth grade African American girls perceived obesity in their daily lives and analyzed what happened when opportunities were given to create counter-narratives about race, gender, and size. Informed by Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Theory, the study centered the body as a textual artifact, broadened notions of what counts as text that can be critically read, and provided models for nurturing youth in tackling school and community issues.

Her coedited book project, African Diaspora Literacy: The Heart of Transformation in K–12 Schools and Teacher Education, alongside Drs. Lamar Johnson, Gloria Boutte, and Gwenda Greene, is a 2019 American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics Choice Book Award Winner. Dr. Smith’s new book, titled Transformational Sanctuaries in the Middle Level ELA Classroom: Creating Truth Spaces for Black Girls, was released March 2022. The book discusses the prevalence of fake love in English/language arts classrooms and provides strategies for creating sanctuary spaces within ELA classrooms, books, and/or personhood. Visit to learn more.

Dr. Jarvais Jackson is an assistant professor specializing in elementary education and culturally responsive pedagogy within the Department of Elementary and Special Education at Georgia Southern University. Dr. Jackson holds a PhD in Teaching and Learning from the University of South Carolina and actively contributes to the field of education, particularly in areas of African Diaspora Literacy and Classroom Management.

As an upcoming author of Pro-Blackness in Early Childhood Education: Diversifying Curriculum and Pedagogy in K–3 Classrooms, Dr. Jackson explores innovative approaches to foster inclusivity in educational settings. Additionally, he serves as the guest editor for a special issue in English Teaching: Practice and Critique, titled “It’s About Damn Time: Learning and Loving from the Fat Frame.” Both endeavors align with his overarching goal of comprehending and supporting the educational journeys of Black individuals.

In 2021, Dr. Jackson’s dedication to advancing scholarly discourse earned him a semifinalist position for the National Academy of Education’s Spencer Dissertation Fellowship award. His doctoral dissertation, titled “Africanizing the Curriculum: African Diaspora Literacy Instruction in Elementary Classrooms,” reflects his commitment to promoting culturally relevant education and uplifting the work of teachers.

Dr. Jackson actively contributes to positive change within the educational landscape through his involvement with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity, as well as NCTE’s Professional Dyads and Culturally Relevant Teaching (PDCRT).

With a rich academic background, including an MEd in Divergent Learning from Columbia College and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Winthrop University, both located in South Carolina, Dr. Jackson brings a wealth of knowledge to his work. His diverse career experiences encompass teaching in elementary and middle school classrooms, as well as serving as the director for the Center for the Education and Equity of African American Students in Columbia, South Carolina. In this role, he successfully secured funding, managed daily operations, developed programming and curriculum, and maintained essential networks with preK–20 educators and policymakers.

Dr. Jackson’s recent publications explore critical topics such as Afrocentrism in critical language and literacy teaching, race mentoring, and the preservation of black immigrant racial identities. With a multifaceted background and a passion for transformative education, Dr. Jackson continues to make significant contributions to the field, shaping the future of culturally responsive pedagogy.