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Vershawn Ashanti Young

Professor, Departments of English Langauge and Literature & Communication Arts, University of Waterloo

I work primarily in three areas of African American studies (gender, language, and performance). I draw from the disciplines of communication, rhetoric, education, literature, and theatre. In short, I am a multi-disciplinary artist, scholar, and teacher. I integrate these multiple areas into my published work and instruction.

I have served as a high school drama/English/speech teacher, an elementary school principal, a supervisor of itinerant theater teachers in Los Angeles, and a school board administrator. I have served on faculty at University of Iowa, University of Kentucky, and University of Waterloo, Canada.

I often work as a diversity consultant to schools and organizations, conducting training on cultural competency, interpersonal and intercultural communication, and how minorities can negotiate and lead in predominantly white settings without giving up their cultural backgrounds or “selling out.”

I am solo performance artist and actor. I had the honor to be recognized for “best performance in a play,” for my portrayal of the brain-damaged Gabriel in August Wilson’s Fences. I also regularly tour my one-man show, Your Average Nigga, based on my first book of the same name. I am currently developing another solo performance on the masculine anxiety of black men.


  • –present
    professor, Department of Drama and Speech Communication, University of Waterloo