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Profesor’s list of “sexy black female scientists” draws controversy, but she doesn’t care one bit

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by Dr Boyce Watkins

Kyla McMullen, PhD is not your typical nerdy professor.  She doesn’t seek to wear thick glasses with a pound of tape and refuses to (in her words) “turn herself into a white guy.”  But she is every bit of a top notch scholar, graduating from The University of Michigan with a PhD in Computer Science.  Just so you know, this is a really tough degree to obtain, and not one of those “Quickie-doctorates” that you can buy on the back of a cereal box (they’re all over the place – not all “doctors” are alike).

Dr. McMullen created a bit of controversy by pulling her sisters in the industry together and creating the first ever list of “Sexy Black Female Scientists”. To put it bluntly, the list set the academic world on fire.   She received tens of thousands of views on the list, putting black female intellectuals in the public eye more than anyone in cyberspace can remember.  The publicity didn’t come with the typical mandates of ridiculous drama, embarrassing fights, or the kind of ratchetry we see on reality television.  It simply consisted of a set of elegant, gorgeous images, alongside the kind of gangsta-ass resumes that would make Einstein blush.

As a fellow scholar, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dr. McMullen make the empowered decision to shape her own career rather than allow others to convince her to fit into some pre-defined set of incredibly boring stereotypes.  As a father of daughters, I was glad to see viral imagery of black women that expands the possibilities for what these women can do with their lives.  It’s up to us as black people to create lists like this one, since most of the lists created by mainstream media aren’t going to have any black women on it.  As I mentioned to Dr. McMullen during the interview, “The best way to get yourself on the list is to create your own damn list.”

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