Krishna Pattisapu, Ph.D.
(they, them)
Intersectional Social Justice Advocate

As a biracial person with an Indian immigrant father and white mother who grew up in a small, rural community, I am deeply invested in exploring what it means to experience the intersections of AAPI identity. It has taken me a long time to feel like I have a right to claim my identity as an Asian person because I grew up almost completely estranged from my Indian heritage. My father assimilated completely to US American culture after he immigrated to the US in the 1970s, so I never learned the history of my ancestors, how to speak Telugu, or how to cook Indian food.

"Marching in the Chennai Pride parade alongside queer and trans Indian activists instilled in me a passion to come back to the US and advocate as strongly as I can for queer and trans folks in the Southeast Asian diaspora."

As I have met more and more biracial AAPI folks and educated myself on the history of AAPI activism and advocacy, I have stepped proudly into my heritage and identity and harnessed the opportunity to educate others about how incredibly varied the AAPI community is. My first trip to India in 2014 at the age of 27 made me feel so much more connected to my roots. I got the opportunity to meet Indian LGBTQ+ activists who, at the time, were protesting against anti-sodomy laws in India. Marching in the Chennai Pride parade alongside queer and trans Indian activists instilled in me a passion to come back to the US and advocate as strongly as I can for queer and trans folks in the Southeast Asian diaspora. I follow in the footsteps of queer and trans scholars and activists who have set the stage for us to imagine the possibilities of our identities.

As an educator who supports students who are underrepresented in historically white educational contexts, I occupy a tenuous space as folks of Indian descent like me are not underrepresented in higher education. Nonetheless; we share many core experiences of exclusion and institutionalized erasure in education with Black and Brown students from other communities. I strive everyday to leverage the privilege I have in academia to advocate for underserved students, to put pressure on oppressive institutional structures, and to imagine radical futures with my students.

"I strive everyday to leverage the privilege I have in academia to advocate for underserved students, to put pressure on oppressive institutional structures, and to imagine radical futures with my students."

Krishna Pattisapu (they/them/theirs) is Faculty Director of Diversity Recruitment and Retention for the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. They earned their Ph.D. in Culture and Communication from the University of Denver in 2014. Their research explores the experiences of queer and trans people of color in educational contexts and the ways folks have resisted assimilation into white cisheteropatriarchy. Krishna has worked in higher education for 12 years in varying capacities, including academic instruction and curriculum design, building college pathways, and leading first-generation student support programs. They are an advocate for intersectional social justice, LGBTQ+ students, first-generation students, undocumented students, and students of color. They have volunteered and served in leadership roles in various LGBTQ+ community organizations in Boulder and Denver. Krishna was born and raised in rural Southern Illinois and identifies as a biracial, queer, disabled, nonbinary femme person from a working class background. They live in Longmont with their husband, Cole, and their cats, Maggie and Scaramouche.