Tim’m knows first-hand the power of words. As a black and queer kid coming of age in Arkansas, to his journey as a philosophy and literature scholar at Duke, Howard, or Stanford Universities, he writes and educates by bringing his full self to classrooms or lecture halls. Tim’m has dedicated more than two decades to work on closing opportunity-gaps in low-income communities. At Oakland School of the Arts and Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy he designed a curriculum “Stick and Stones,” lessons aimed at teaching students how to wield words to advance post-secondary options and better lives. A strong advocate for art education, Tim’m works to leverage the voices of students from low-income communities as a gateway to self-determined existences and experiences in thriving. As a university professor Tim’m engaged students in theoretical conversations about identity and power. He has lectured at Columbia University, Northwestern University, Spelman University, NYU, and Oberlin College, among other institutions, about topics ranging from the school to prison pipeline or college readiness connected to his foundational work as a leader with College Summit, Inc. Tim’m modeled journalism for social justice students he taught at National Cathedral Scholars Program in DC as a writer for SWERV magazine, his own blog Edutainer Ethos, and currently for Huffington Post. As a celebrated Hip-Hop scholar, Tim’m has addressed sexuality and gender by publishing Hard to Get Straight: Kanye West, Masculine Anxiety, Dis-identification in “The Cultural Impact of Kanye West” (Spring 2014), his contribution to Jeff Chang’s “Total Chaos: The Arts & Aesthetics of Hip Hop,” (2007) lyrics published in The Yale Anthology of Hip Hop, or the anthology Black Cultural Traffic, where his essay Keepin’ It Real: Disidentification and its Discontents continues to be read in Cultural Studies. Currently, Tim’m is working to advance a more intersectional movement for educational equity, as Senior Managing Director for Teach For America’s LGBTQ Community Initiative. There he works to advocate for safer and braver classrooms through what he has for years called #BraveEducation. Working alongside a diverse number of partner organizations, Tim’m builds strategic relationships to ensure all students receive a quality education.
Educator and Scholar
I believe that we rob society of some of its best, most courageous and brilliant teachers when we suggest that LGBTQ educators are fine, just as long as they don’t talk about it and just do their job… what we are teaching our kids in the process: that dignity is a privilege for some, and shame, the default especially for those at the intersection of poverty and queer identities? We do our students a disservice if we perpetuate the notion that not having a strong and positive sense of identity has no bearing on the kind of future one can have. I’d like to think that educators cultivate, not just healthy minds, but healthy spirits.
- Tim’m West