Kiara Shanay Lee is a writer, educator and dreamer. She’s a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the youngest of 3 sisters. Slightly delayed during early childhood, Kiara didn’t begin to walk and talk until she was 2 ½ years old. As time passed, she grew past the delay, receiving Honor Roll and other honors in school. Kiara began volunteering at the tender age of 11 at various programs in Richmond. Her passion for writing also started at a young age, as she was a writer for her middle school newspaper. In high school, became involved in a student mentoring program ,volunteered over 400 hours at a local nursing home and graduated with multiple honors.
Kiara wrote Light-Skinned, Dark-Skinned or In-Between? in the summer of 2010. A little over 6 months later, she finished her documentary of the same name. Both works explore colorism and its social and psychological effects. Kiara is a graduate of the University of Richmond, where she studied Sociology and Spanish. She was very involved at the University, as she performed in 2 theatre productions, had her very own opinion column in The Collegian, University of Richmond’s student newspaper, held an executive position in the Multicultural Student Union and was a Bonner Scholar and a Bonner Scholar Senior Intern. During her senior year at Richmond, Kiara wrote and directed her own theatre piece on colorism called “Under the Rug,” which explored the effects of colorism in the black community.
In December 2012, Kiara was featured in CNN’s “Black in America,” with Soledad O’Brien. It featured Kiara working with children in her colorism and self-esteem workshop, CMB: Color Me Beautiful. Currently, Kiara speaks about colorism and self-esteem to schools, churches, and other organizations. She has been published in various print, television and radio features. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with loved ones. In the beginning of 2014, she self-published Be A Man Tyrone: What Happens when Daddy Goes to Prison, a children’s book about parental incarceration. The book not only exposes its effects on children, but it also serves as a reminder that children of incarceration, although often pressured to act as adults, are still children and deserve their childhood. At the end of 2014, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a master’s degree in education. She works as a faculty writing instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also an education PhD candidate at VCU, currently finishing up her dissertation work on colorism and college student life.