Ralina L. Joseph

I am a scholar, teacher, and facilitator of race and communication. I received my B.A. in American Civilization from Brown University and M.A. and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego. I have worked as a professor of Communication at the University of Washington in Seattle since 2005, and as the founding director of the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity (CCDE) since 2015. My books and articles probe questions of race and racism in our world today. My teaching and facilitation seek to answer these questions by providing tangible tools to change the world around us. I am on the editorial boards of five journals as well as the University of Washington Press, where I’m also co-editing a new series of short books of Critical Perspectives on Black Popular Culture.

I strive to be a scholar whose work remains relevant to my community. While many minoritized academics have always felt the pull to make our scholarship relevant to our communities of origin, the necessity to connect with communities around creating solutions for the problems of racism has intensified since the Winter of 2012. It was then I began teaching around a first little-discussed case of a Black teen murdered by a vigilante watchman. My 220 students and I followed Trayvon Martin’s story as it grew from local coverage, to social media, to the cable news juggernaut CNN. My office hours overflowed with students brimming with anger and frustration as they watched more young Black people die on their screens. My students felt their classroom critiques of media were insufficient; they wanted action. Over the next two years I mentored a group of students into creating a new club, which hosted a campus-wide forum, “From Rodney King to Michael Brown,” in the Fall of 2014 just weeks before officer Darren Wilson’s non-indictment for the shooting death of Michael Brown. We anticipated an attendance of thirty students; more than three times that number of students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community joined our event. From that event we began hosting teach-ins, workshops, talks, and research groups. The students’, faculty’s, staff’s and community members’ keen desires to create different spaces for their inquiries and activism led to my founding and directing the CCDE in the Spring of 2015. As our mission statement declares, “the CCDE strives to be a space where our community of students, faculty, staff and community members gather to promote greater equity. Through research collaboration, networking opportunities, action-oriented classes, mentorship programs, and community events we engage in dialogue to think critically about race and its intersections, to interrupt privilege, and ultimately change the structures of power around us.”


  • Presidential Term Professorship (Endowed Professorship)                          

  • University of Washington Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award 

  • CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Silver Award For Diversity Programs for “Interrupting Privilege” 

  • Ethnic Cultural Center Faculty Mentorship Award, University of Washington     

  • Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, University of Washington          

  • Woman of Courage Award, University of Washington Women’s Center                  

  • The Simpson Center Awards, Conference Funding Award for “Mediating Difference” reading group, conference, writing retreat / Certificate for Public Scholarship Course Development Grant/ Studio Grant Award/ Crossdisciplinary Research Cluster/ Society of Scholars Fellowship

  • Inaugural recipient of GO-MAP (Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program) Faculty Diversity Leadership Award, University of Washington

  • Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Diversity Fellowship                              

  • Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty (Woodrow Wilson/Mellon)                    

  • Institute for Ethnic Studies in the United States (IESUS) Grant, University of Washington      

  • University of California President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship             

  • American Association of University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Fellow              

  • Ethnic Studies GrantCenter for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. University of California, San Diego