AAAD colloquium brings together experts on black feminism

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Moderator Kia Caldwell, along with panelists Pat Parker, Keisha-Khan Perry and Sharon Holland discuss black feminism at a colloquium on Feb. 7.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mistakenly combined two stories of people detained at airports after the recent ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. The story has been updated to reflect this correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the errors.

The Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies' first spring event sparked conversations about empowerment, feminism and politics.

The first of a series sponsored by the AAAD department, the panel discussion explored the subject of “The Urgency of Black Feminism in Times of Crisis and Change." The panelists gave brief statements detailing their opinions of the event’s theme before the floor was opened to questions.

One of the panelists, Professor Patricia Parker of the Department of Communication, opened up discussion by directly addressing the role of black feminists in the current political climate.

“It’s a moment that calls for organizing, coalition-building, solidarity and accountability,” she said.

Keisha-Khan Perry, associate professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, related black feminism to President Donald Trump’s recent ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, through a narrative about a Ph.D. student of Sudanese descent at her university who was interrogated when trying to return to the United States. 

Perry said the student eventually made it back, but was asked ridiculous questions during her interrogation including "Why do black people hate white people?" Perry said this question sheds some light on the so-called Muslim ban.

"Many have neglected to emphasize the fact that the order targets four African, majority black, countries," she said.

Professor Sharon Holland, associate chairperson of UNC's Department of American Studies, shared a personal narrative relating the theme of the event to the Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam” that stands in the Upper Quad of UNC’s campus

“In many ways, I look at that statue — and the University can claim that it’s not the most immediate problem that we have — but it certainly is a problem, and it has a psychic life, and it gives a message,” she said.

This was the first panel put on by the AAAD department this semester, but many students were in attendance including senior public relations major Meki Shewangizaw.

“We always talk about how black men are not being valued, but we always forget that black women are not being valued either, and it’s usually black women who are also fighting for those rights, and it was interesting to get the panel’s opinion on that,” she said.

Three other events in the AAAD colloquium series are scheduled for this semester including one of the department’s biggest events of the year, the Fifth Annual Global Africana Conference, which deals with the subject of black feminist futures on April 6 to 7. Award-winning novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, will be giving the closing keynote address.

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