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Black Feminist Futures Ahead

February 24 Symposium features Dr. Tanisha Ford and discussions about Black feminist theory in higher education, activism, and popular culture.

Building upon the voices of millions of women who, just about a month ago, made clear their opposition President Trump’s call to misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, UC Women’s Center hosts a symposium this coming Friday, February 24 at Tangeman University Center entitled:  Creating Black Feminist Futures.  The Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice proudly co-sponsors this event. 

Nneka Dennie, Program Coordinator for Leadership and Activism at the Women’s Center, is the force behind the conference.  Dennie and her colleagues decided months ago that the time was right for a convening around Black feminism at UC:

We believe that in the current political moment, it’s important to empower and celebrate Black women. We wanted to provide a space for UC students, faculty, staff, and the greater Cincinnati community to engage in dialogue about the diverse meanings of black feminism, and to have an opportunity to consider what Black feminism can mean for future progress and resistance.

To that end, they invited Dr. Tanisha Ford, Associate Professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware and author of Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul, to provide the keynote address.  In addition to Dr. Ford, there will be several workshops examining such topics as Black feminist theory, media, and popular culture; violence against Black cis- and transgender women; enhancing undergraduate education through Black feminist methods, and turning Black feminist theory into activism.

Registration begins at 9: 30. Workshops run from 10 until 12:50, with Dr. Ford’s keynote address starting at 1. The program appears below:

Creating Black Feminist Futures, Friday, February 24

Session 1 (10 AM – 10:50 AM)

Black Feminist Research Strategies (Paper Presentations) Room 419 AB

Batsheva Guy, University of Cincinnati Educational Studies Program: “Using Black Feminism to Inform Undergraduate Research Programs”

Personal, professional, and intellectual development have all been found to improve as a result of undergraduate research programs (URPs). However, although URPs exist for women as well as underrepresented minority (URM) groups, URPs specifically geared towards women of color are at a minimum. Black feminism focuses on the lived experiences of individuals, including intersecting oppressions, and this theory could contribute to the development of future URPs. Ultimately, understanding intersectionality as it relates to URM women could help create more holistic programs.

Khahlia Sanders, University of Cincinnati:  “Trying to Weave Us Back Together:” Black Feminist Thought and Mixed Methods Research in Conversation”

Treva Lindsey’s (2015) assertion, “To arrive at a Black Feminist future, theory and methodology will matter” and Cynthia Dillard’s (2015) critical question, “what are the research methods that weave us back together as Black women?” offers entry points to consider how a mixed methods research approach and Black Feminist Thought can work together in a research study. In this work-in-progress, I will discuss theoretical and methodological considerations to work out if Black Feminist Thought and mixed methods research together will offer Black Feminist future(s).

Finding Eden: How Black Women use Spirituality to Navigate Academia (Workshop) 400 A

Dr. Kyra Shahid and Ese Obrimah, Xavier University

This workshop will present the findings of a dissertation that examined the ways in which Black women use spirituality to transcend and resist racism in academia. The presenters will conceptualize the tensions between intellectualism and spirituality negotiated by the women who participated in the study and invite the audience to identify their own responses to racism through their faith traditions. This session will benefit faculty, staff, and students of any or no faith tradition but especially those who espouse a Christian-based faith.

The Intersection of Black Feminism and Activism: Empowering Change Agents on a College Campus (Roundtable Discussion) 400 C

Alicia Boards, University of Cincinnati

The purpose of this presentation is to explore the role that college plays in the development of activism in regards to liberation and democratic practices through a critical theory lens of Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought (BFT). BFT provides an inclusive ideology to which higher education can use its institutional power and resources to fight for the injustices and discrimination of the marginalized. The intersection of BFT and activism in higher education is a way to embrace and empower a society towards greater social change.

Black Feminism in the Age of Blackgirlmagic (Workshop) 425

Patrice N. Barnes, Clark Atlanta University

Black Feminism has widened the space throughout academic and feminist discourse, adding value to intersectional identities and further developing theories and activist efforts. As scholars and activist, we often ask the questions: how do we put the theories we study into practice? How do we make the theories found within Black Feminism plausible for everyday life? After all, what good are Black Feminist theoretical contributions if we cannot rely on them to bring about transformation and equity within the society that it often challenges? This workshop will explore the cultural phenomena of Blackgirlmagic and how its existence is actualized Black Feminism. We will learn that Blackgirlmagic is more than a social media hashtag, it’s an identifier of a people’s resilience and beauty. Making the practice of Black feminism simple where it often appears complex, we’ll uncover the core components of Blackgirlmagic as defined by its originator and have the opportunity to create our own personal representation of Blackgirlmagic.

Session 2 (11 AM – 11:50 AM)

Violence against Black Women (Paper Presentations) TUC 427

Sade Lindsay, The Ohio State University: “Police Violence: A Shift Toward Impacts on Black Women”

The vast majority of research conducted on police violence in the U.S. has focused on Black men while simultaneously disregarding the impact that police violence has on Black women. Although there is a long history of police violence against Black Americans, we know little about the impact of police violence on the everyday lives of Black women, especially given their historical and contemporary roles in the Black community. Drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews of 120 Black women in Columbus, Ohio and San Francisco, California, this study shifts the focus of police violence to the unique experiences of Black women and how these experiences shape their everyday lives. This study has implications for prevention and intervention efforts providing necessary information for advocacy organizations seeking to end police violence and support populations affected by such violence.

Edward Vaughn, University of Cincinnati: “Futures from Violence: Black Trans Women’s Experiences with Verbal Violence”

This research project aims to reveal and contextualize the ways in which Black trans women experience verbal violence, such as mis-gendering and invalidation of womanhood in their personal lives, and how and where these experiences occur. With special attention to the intersections of race, gender, and trans identity, this “work in progress” presentation will discuss the meaning of “verbal violence”, how verbal violence is used against Black trans women, as well as what is needed for possibilities of “violence-free” futures for Black trans women and other trans women of color.

Towards a Queer Black Feminist Performance Aesthetic (Workshop) TUC 423

Deanna Downes, University of Colorado Boulder/Deanna Downes Creative Consulting

There is strength in ideas and practices in and about the theater that exist in the margins. This workshop seeks to help its participants generate creative work in a way that re-imagines and radicalizes the process of creating work. It is also a workshop for accessing our authentic selves and bringing that self to our life and work. The workshop, Towards a Queer Black Feminist Performance Aesthetic, uses ensemble building exercises and writing prompts to help get to the core of your story.

 Surviving Graduate School, Barely: Major Keys to Graduate School Success (Roundtable Discussion) 400 C

Patrice DeLeon, University of Cincinnati

Graduate school is a battle of wills, and this is especially true for women of color. Women of color are constantly battling against majority-dominated spaces that can often discount their opinions. They are constantly working with professors and administrators about the validity of research and especially for researchers focusing on marginalized communities. I am one of several people of color exiting my doctoral program with a degree this year, but it wasn’t accomplished without support, guidance, and love. This roundtable discussion provide insight for women of color considering graduate school, I offer tips focused on mentoring, counseling, instinct and self-care.

Baby Bechdel: Curating Media for Your Black Feminist Child (Roundtable Discussion) 419 AB

kalilah c. m.,

As educators struggle to add feminist ideas to state-sanctioned lesson plans, parents and guardians may be left wondering how they can supplement their children’s feminist education without waiting for a college-level Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality course. Given the major influence that media have on children’s development, it is essential that we be able to identify books, movies, and television shows that espouse feminist values. Within this session, we will develop gender- and racially-inclusive criteria for choosing media for the children in our lives.

Activism Bootcamp: Making Your Fight for Equity a Movement, Not a Moment TUC 425

Ashley Nkadi, Brittany Bibb, and Nyirah Jackson, The Irate 8

The Irate 8, a nationally award winning student-led activist movement, will discuss the keys to success for having an activist movement, rather than a moment. These strategies include: practicing self-care, working together for constructive change, blaming systems not individuals, locating an institution’s Achilles’ heel, using data, proposing best practices, recognizing your privilege, and having a succession plan. To learn more about the movement please visit

Session 3 (12 PM – 12:50 PM)

Race, Gender, and Popular Culture (Paper Presentations) 423

Gabrielle Simmons, University of Cincinnati: “American Girl: Reflections on Black Girlhood and Trauma in Literature”

The American Girl Historical Characters series seeks to offer girls stories with which they can easily relate offering dolls and books that accompany one another. There has been much controversy, however, concerning the release of their first African American character in 1993. Addy Walker, a slave girl, remained the only option of color for nearly a decade. As literature that is both about black girls and targeted to black girls as consumers, through feminist critical analysis I argue the Addy series gives voice to the often harsh expectations placed on black girls, their ability to be strong and handle trauma.

Bring A Folding Chair (Workshop)  TUC 400A

Tamaya Dennard, Design Impact

Black women are more likely to experience socioeconomic inequity than any other demographic group in this country. Due to disparities in our health care systems, we are more likely to die from diseases and ailments where early detection could mean longer lives. In the face of these incredibly challenges, Black women vote at a higher participation rate than any other demographic in the United States. Although we’ve been such an important voting bloc, we are the least encouraged to actually run for elected office. This needs to change.

Resisting Misogynoir: Redefining Black Womanhood in Higher Education (Workshop) 425

MyTresa Taylor and Chatrice Barnes, Miami University of Ohio

Throughout this presentation we will give Black women the opportunity to reflect on their identities and experiences that have contributed to their careers in higher education. This presentation will serve to help Black women navigate the ways in which their behavior, demeanor, and presence are critiqued. Women will draw from their personal experiences either as a student, administrator or educator to highlight the pseudo-mandated performance requirements they must uphold as Black women.

Black Women’s Activism: Sixty Years of Resistance in the BlackLivesMatter and Civil Rights Movements (Roundtable Discussion) TUC 400B

Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller, University of Dayton

The role of Black women in The BlackLivesMatter Movement and the Civil Rights Movement is undeniable. I will discuss the similarities—in terms of the demands—and measurable differences in terms of demand and tone. The individuals in both movements have been involved with marches, sit-ins, bus boycotts, and desegregation of schools, voting rights, and equity of access. We will then discuss the impact that women have had in the two movements and how pivotal Black women’s involvement in social movements has changed society throughout history.

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM                Keynote Luncheon



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