Emery’s work brings people together. He is interested in the ways educators, artists, and youth connect their assets to bring about the world they wish to experience, even for a short period of time. He is most at home in intergenerational art, expression, and learning spaces where youth and adults make things together — especially beats, sounds, songs, and lots of noise. He plays the role of curator and conduit in these spaces, linking together the relational and material assets for teaching, learning, and living. Emery’s scholarship and community work have been supported by the Spencer Foundation, the Office of Research and Innovation at MSU, and partnerships with Ableton and Koala Sampler.

Emery’s first two books explored the relationship between hip-hop culture and education. Hip-Hop Culture in College Students’ Lives (Routlege, 2012) explored how young adults apply the aesthetics and worldviews of hip-hop to their educational lives. The book received popular coverage in the Philadelphia, Boston, and New York Metro Paper, and was reviewed in Journal of College Student Development, International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, Scratched Vinyl, and other venues. Schooling Hip-Hop: Expanding Hip-Hop Based Education Across the Curriculum (Teachers College Press, 2013) explored the theory and practice of hip-hop based education in science, social studies, college composition, teacher education, and other fields. Called “incredibly important” by hip-hop artist Immortal Technique, the book was positively reviewed in Harvard Educational Review; Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research; and other venues.

Emery’s third and fourth books addressed the racial diversity of the teaching profession. Navigating Teacher Licensure Exams (Routledge, 2019) looked at the experiences aspiring teachers of color have with the high stakes standardized exams that can keep them out of the profession. Emery’s work in this area received the Innovations in Research on Equity and Social Justice in Teacher Education Award from Division K of the American Educational Research Association. Teacher Education Across Minority Serving Institutions (Rutgers University Press, 2018) consolidated scholarship from institutions that play the largest roles putting Black and Brown teachers in classrooms: Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The first of its kind, the book received the Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education Award from Division K of the American Educational Research Association.

Emery’s academic articles have been published in Review of Educational Research; Teachers College Record; Urban Education; Race, Ethnicity, and Education; International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education; English Teaching: Practice & Critique; and other journals. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and editorials — if you are into the numbers. His commentary on education and culture have appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, Sounding Out!, Education Week, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and Salon. Emery has accomplished nothing on his own. Long term collaborations with Lynnette Mawhinney, Kira J. Baker Doyle, Decoteau J. Irby, Ruth Nicole Brown, and others have enhanced his work and spirit.  

Emery teaches courses on language, literacy, and culture; urban education; hip-hop literature and aesthetics; participatory research; and young adult literature. He works comfortably across appointments in both the Department of English and the Department of Teacher Education at MSU. His courses regularly collaborate with artists, classroom teachers, and community organizers. Moving across disciplinary norms, his courses activate social design, performance, hacking, and art making as means for students to learn and demonstrate learning beyond the classroom. Antiracism, education justice, and ethical community partnerships are common themes in his courses. Emery has received teaching awards as a high school English teacher and college professor, including the Board of Trustees Distinguished Teaching Award at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first historically Black university in the United States. 

As a consultant, Emery has designed antiracist learning programs for statewide instructional coaching networks, academic departments, and school districts. He has carried out participatory evaluations for million-dollar racial equity grants in the nonprofit sector. Emery does not work alone in these capacities. He applies principles of cooperativism to his consulting work, which he learned through four life-changing years as a worker-owner with Derute, a majority Black and women owned cooperative.