Javon Johnson

Director, African American & African Diaspora Studies
Associate Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies
Expertise: African American Literature, Black Pop Culture, Poetry, Black Queer Theory, Black Feminist Theory


Javon Johnson’s research focuses on performance, blackness, African American literature, black pop culture, black feminist theory, black queer theory, masculinity studies, black sexualities, and ethnography.

Johnson -- a renowned spoken word poet -- is a three-time national poetry slam champion and a four-time national finalist. He has appeared on HBO’s "Def Poetry Jam," BET’s "Lyric Café," TV One's "Verses & Flow," "The Steve Harvey Show," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "United Shades of America with Kamau Bell" on CNN. He also co-wrote a documentary titled "Crossover," which aired on Showtime in collaboration with the NBA and Nike.

Johnson has also been published in numerous academic publications and national outlets such as Text & Performance Quarterly, Liminalities, QED: A Journal of Queer Worldmaking, The Root, and Huffington Post.



  • Ph.D., Performance Studies, Northwestern University
  • M.A., Communication Studies, California State University
  • B.A., Communication Studies, California State University

Javon Johnson In The News

Master's In Communications
Javon Johnson is Assistant Professor and Director of African American and African Diaspora Studies with an appointment in Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. An acclaimed slam poet and recognized performance studies scholar, Dr. Johnson is the author of the book Killing Poetry: Blackness and the Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities. He is also co-editor of The End of Chiraq: A Literary Mixtape, which collects poetry, lyrics, essays, and other media from youth artists in Chicago, and, most recently, published the book of poetry Ain’t Never Not Been Black.
Black Perspectives
Our article tracks the brief but rich history of racial segregation in gaming and how this was shaped by the emergence of Jim Crow practices in casino policies and overt discrimination in hiring.
Las Vegas Review Journal
It all begins with a car ride, top down, spirits up, an uncle and his nephew, the latter a fire hose of questions — most 4-year-olds are. Why is the sky blue? Why can’t dogs talk? Could you win a fight with a dragon?
Detroit Free Press
Sophia Calloway moved from Cincinnati to Phoenix last year to be closer to her parents, who relocated from Ohio to the Arizona desert three years earlier for new jobs.

Articles Featuring Javon Johnson

Graduates bumping fists
Campus News | June 8, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting celebration, health, and progress at UNLV.

Student sitting outside on a bench
Campus News | February 3, 2021

A collection of news stories from the new year highlighting the experts and events at UNLV.

Claytee White sits in a chair and gestures toward a woman sitting to her right
Arts and Culture | December 30, 2020

A sampling of university experts who sounded off on the year’s monumental movements surrounding race, ethnicity, and gender.

A portrait of U.N.L.V.'s new president Keith Whitfield on campus.
Campus News | August 10, 2020

As summer heats up, so do the accomplishments on UNLV’s campus.