Dr.Ruth Nicole Brown is the inaugural chairperson of the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. Prior to her position at Michigan State, she spent her career tenure at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While in Champaign, she became the visionary of Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), a practice based, publicly engaged, collectively organized space for Black girls to envision Black girlhood anew. Her research and work with SOLHOT documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experience and explores the gender and racialized power dynamics particularly as it relates to Black girlhood.
According to Brown, there is something about Black girlhood that is extremely experimental and that quality of innovation guides her art-making as scholarship. The desire to play with movement, sound, images, and words against the assumable or knowable figure of the Black girl is very much a part of her creative process. Aesthetic influences are many: the everydayness of survival, amateur impulses, Midwestern Blackness, do it yourself cultures, and hip hop. SOLHOT also functions as praxis, workshop, and studio and it is in the organizing and doing of Black girlhood celebration (again and again) whereby Brown’s sense of poetic timing and preference for what is good beautiful, and useful are cultivated into a collective politics, to be shared.
Brown has authored two books, Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (University of Illinois Press, 2013) and Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy (Peter Lang, 2009) co-edited several anthologies, Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry: Possibilities and Tensions in Educational Research with R. Carducci and C. Kuby (Peter Lang, 2014) and Wish To Live: The Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy Reader with C. Kwaye (Peter Lang, 2012) and wrote numerous journal articles. Brown is in a band called We Levitate with bandbaes Dr. Porshe Garner, Jessica Robinson, and Dr. Blair E. Smith and has devised and/or performed in several SOLHOT shows including "The Mixtape Remix" (2011), and "Check In!" (2010). Brown's performance work also includes, "The Rest is Work" (2018), and "Thank you, for the Blood" (2020).