Stephanie Y. Evans

Stephanie Y. Evans

Black Women’s Wellness: Challenging the Normalization of Stress



Stephanie Y. Evans, PhD, is an impactful scholar, author, and researcher. For more than three decades, she has been committed to the profession of higher education, however, she is currently focusing on uprooting the normalization of stress and to making institutions more humane, sane, and equitable.

Dr. Evans is a Professor of Black Women's Studies, faculty in the Institute for Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and affiliate faculty in the Department of Africana Studies at Georgia State University. She is also affiliate faculty in the Center for the Study of Africa and Its Diaspora as well as in the Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma and Resilience.

With research interest in Black women's intellectual history, specifically memoirs, mental health, and wellness, Dr. Evans began studying Black women’s wellness in 2013. How Black women educators have navigated the relentless demands of academia has been a particular focus of her writing, teaching, and speaking. Her work evolved to include mental health and wellness as a way to address systemic stressors of being department chair, an experience she knows firsthand after serving as a department chair for twelve years at several institutions.

She is also the editor of the Black Women’s Wellness book series at SUNY Press. Her edited books include, Dear Department Chair: Letters from Black Women Leaders to the Next Generation (2023), Black Women and Social Justice Education (2019), and Black Women's Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability (2017). In 2015, she edited Phylon: Review of Race and Culture, reviving the journal founded by W. E. B. Du Bois at Clark Atlanta University.

In addition to her books, Dr. Evans has published numerous articles in Western Journal of Black Studies, Peace Studies Journal, Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, Feminist Teacher, Florida Historical Quarterly, and African American Research Perspectives, among others. Dr. Evans shares how to manage stress while navigating the tasks of academic writing or administrative challenges, especially for those in marginalized fields or those in leadership positions during times of personal, national, or global crises.

The Life and History of Black Self-Care for Academics In this presentation, Dr Evans will discuss the study and practice of health, healing, and wellness. Drawing on her scholarly work, she will share her own journey—personal and professional—and share practical tips about stress management.

Black Women’s Historical Wellness: Traditions of Connecting Self-Care to Social Justice In this presentation, Dr. Evans discusses what she calls #HistoricalWellness—Black women’s traditions of simultaneously practicing inner peace and working to resist oppression. Moving beyond the unnecessary dichotomy of individual vs. communal care, Evans unpacks her ideas about “social locations of health,” a feminist-womanist narrative framework that connects self-care, communal care, structural care, and struggles for social justice.

Africana Tea: A Global History of Tea and Black Women’s Health Evans will explore the long history of how Black women around the world have written about tea as a tool for health and wellness. As part of her research, she has studied more than 300 memoirs to map a history of senna, sassafras and pekoe tea in Kenya, Virginia and beyond.

Black Women's Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace How have Black women elders managed stress? This intellectual history expands conceptions of yoga and defines inner peace as mental health, healing, and wellness that is both compassionate and political. In this presentation, Dr. Evans shows how meditation and yoga from eras of enslavement, segregation, and migration to the Civil Rights, Black Power, and New Age movements have been in existence all along in how women managed traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. In more than fifty yoga memoirs, Black women discuss practices of reflection, exercise, movement, stretching, visualization, and chanting for self-care. By unveiling the depth of a struggle for wellness, memoirs offer lessons for those who also struggle to heal from personal, cultural, and structural violence.

  Topic Areas

African Americans/Black
Health/Mental Health
Professional Development
Leadership Development
“Dr. Stephanie Evans’ enlightening talk on “Anatomy of a Research Agenda: Embodying Black Women’s Wellness” at Emory University profoundly expanded our understanding of the intersection between research, wellness, and the experiences of Black women—an insightful exploration that left a lasting impact on myself and the audience.”
Antonio Kyler James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, Emory University