Dr. Kiara

Dr. Kiara Lee-Heart is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She holds a B.A. in sociology with a minor in Latin American and Iberian Studies from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. She earned her Ph.D. in education at Virginia Commonwealth University and her dissertation research focused on colorism and the lived experiences of dark-skinned Black college students. She teaches first-year students writing and critical thinking skills in the Department of Focused Inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kiara is a passionate writer, with two children’s books exploring colorism and parental incarceration: Light-Skinned, Dark-Skinned or In-Between? and Be a Man Tyrone: What Happens When Daddy Goes to Prison. She is also the author of a long-running blog, theblackertheberry.org, and numerous pieces published in newspapers and other media. Kiara has a deep research interest in colorism education; her work on colorism has even been featured on CNN’s Black in America 5, among other outlets. Beyond colorism, Kiara also has research interests in student writer identity, Black school experiences, parental incarceration and more. Over the years, she has used other outlets beyond writing including The Kiara Lee Show, her television show on local programming, to tackle controversial issues affecting the Richmond, Virginia, community and beyond. Teaching is her new-found passion; she enjoys utilizing a non-traditional teaching style that sometimes includes hip-hop, social media, theatre and more.

Articles by Dr. Kiara

Pandemic Pedagogy: A Call to Educators to Bring Their Classrooms to Reality

One educator explains the value of addressing the pandemic head-on in class.

A Crooked Seat at the Table: Black and Alone in an Honors Class

Educator Kiara Lee-Heart was often the only Black student in her high school honors classes. Here’s what she wishes her teachers—and all educators—knew about that experience.

“Why Keisha Can't Write”: The Marginalization of Black Student Writing

A writing teacher responds to the famous essay “Why Johnny Can’t Write.”
A map of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi with overlaid images of key state symbols and of people in community

Learning for Justice in the South

When it comes to investing in racial justice in education, we believe that the South is the best place to start. If you’re an educator, parent or caregiver, or community member living and working in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi, we’ll mail you a free introductory package of our resources when you join our community and subscribe to our magazine.

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