Get To Know Us


The Ebony Tower is an academic thought collective designed to generate dialogue around the experiences of young scholars of color. In particular, we are interested in naming the issues that impact the success and well-being of academics of color and offering resources and advice to overcome those hurdles. The Ebony Tower will serve as a  safe space to read and share stories of struggle and triumph, to gain insight about navigating academic spaces that may be socially and intellectually stifling, and to learn about the work of rising and established scholars of color.  The site will feature personal narratives, resources,  spotlight of impactful and thought-provoking scholarship, and advice addressing all aspects of graduate life – from applying to a program to landing a job.

The Ebony Tower hopes to serve as a source of inspiration and support for academics of color who seek to survive, scale, and thrive within the ivory tower.



Photo: Harvard University / Molly Akin

Daphne Penn earned her PhD in Education from Harvard University. Her desire to create The Ebony Tower was motivated by her personal experiences navigating various institutions of higher education as a first-generation college student as well as her professional commitment to bridging the gap between scholars of color and the communities they study and serve. As a budding intellectual activist, Daphne’s ultimate mission is to speak truth to power and to the people. In addition to The Ebony Tower, Daphne works to fulfill her mission by co-hosting the BhD (Black and Highly Dangerous) Podcast—a platform dedicated to using academic research to inform everyday conversations about issues impacting the Black community.

When she has writer’s block or is simply procrastinating, Daphne enjoys reading material completely unrelated to her research, binge watching epic TV shows, cooking, and playing poker. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (XΦΩ).


Rachel is both co-editor and resident anthropologist at The Ebony Tower. As a first generation Haitian-American from New York, Rachel has always had an interest in storytelling, culture, and transnational experiences. She hopes to bring this desire to The Ebony Tower through urging scholars of color throughout the diaspora to share their experiences and to encourage scholars in the US to engage, cite, and co-create with international scholars as well.

Rachel holds a Ph.D. from American University in Washington DC. Her work looks at religious influences on community service initiatives in Northeastern Brazil. She enjoys spending hours in local bookstores, going to carnivals (i.e. the Caribbean & Afro-latinx variety) and hot yoga. She is co-producer of the documentary film Chèche Lavi and is always looking for her next creative endeavor.