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Panel discusses Black Feminism

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The Damietta Center for Multicultural Affairs hosted its second Black History Month event on Wednesday in the Doyle Trustees Room.
A panel of four black women discussed “What Black Feminism means in the 21st Century.”
The panelists included Monica L. Ridgeway, equity and inclusion coordinator at the Education Collaborative of Western New York; Kara Oliver, program specialist at the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York; Tiffany M. Nyachae, lecturer and Ph. D. candidate at the University at Buffalo; and Donika Kelly, Ph.D., and assistant professor of English at St. Bonaventure.
Marley Jarvis, a sophomore sports studies major, moderated the conversation, asking the panelists various questions regarding black feminism, social consciousness, advocacy, empowerment and even their feelings after the election of President Donald Trump.
Each of the women spoke about their backgrounds and views on each of the questions, all of which varied from one another.
Parker Suddeth, coordinator of the Damietta Center, said this event was a direct reflection of this year’s theme, “And Still WE Rise: Expressions of Black Heritage & Identity.”
“I think that black feminism is not a topic we approach often,” Suddeth said. “By offering this event on campus and the larger community [it] gives insight and ways to [legitimize] topics we need to pay attention to in a larger society.”
Kelly, one of the panelists, said this panel discussion was an important moment for the university.
“We don’t have these discussions on this campus,” said Kelly. “It is important for students across race, class and gender to hear a different perspective.”
She also said since there were multiple representatives, it provided useful and different perspectives to those listening to the discussion.
“This will help folks focus on the individuals rather than the group as a whole,” said Kelly. “We wanted to avoid letting one person stand in for the whole.”
Jarvis said she enjoyed the discussion and hearing the different stories and experiences each of the panelists have had.
“It’s enlightening to hear different views and personal anecdotes that come from discussions like these,” she said. “This conversation enhanced and expanded, not only my understanding, but hopefully those in attendance.”
The panelists touched upon a wide range of topics, including the treatment of black woman in today’s society, the importance of black history and the different types of black feminists.
Jarvis said the topic of black feminism as a whole is important to discuss today because it speaks about the intersection of both being a woman and an African-American, which are both considered minority groups.
“Both are usually addressed individually, rather than collectively,” said Jarvis. “Discussing what this issue is and why it’s important to society will create awareness and a better comprehension of what black feminism is and the differences between mainstream feminism.”
Jarvis said she holds black feminism important and close to her being.
“Being biracial, it’s important for me to understand all the cultures that make me,” said Jarvis. “This issue pertains not just to me, but my friends and family, so it’s something I take very seriously and would like to continue educating myself about.”
Suddeth said he hoped the panelist’s level of intellect and honestly provided takeaways for students, faculty and the outside community.
“I hope they get a sense of community,” Suddeth said. “This definitely provides the next step of tactical actions of how to advocate and uplift woman of color, which is important to do.”
On Thursday Feb. 23, the Damietta Center will host its final event, a poetry reading by Somali-American poet and teacher, Ladan Osman, and Kelly at 6 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center of the Arts loft.

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