Envisioning and Transforming: A Dialogue Between Students and Faculty

At the request of the Barnard College Department Chairs, BCRW is hosting an open discussion between faculty and students on the future of diversity on our campus. This much-needed forum will provide an opportunity for open discussion and exchange between us as scholars, educators, and students, on issues we face together as a community. From this conversation will hopefully emerge a new collective vision.

To effectuate institutional change, we must challenge and push against normative and insufficient standards of diversity. That change must determined by those who are most marginalized:
– Students and faculty of color
– Black students and faculty
– Low-income students
– Queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming folks
– Folks with disabilities

Last semester both students and faculty expressed deep concerns in the face of disturbing incidents at Yale and the University of Missouri. Those concerns continue and we would like to begin a direct conversation between faculty and students on how we can work together to more concretely address the issues of diversity (which we conceive broadly to include race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, and sexuality, among others) we confront on our campus.


1. Taking stock: Why are we here?
– priorities
– lines of communication
– mutual support
– coordination

2. Aspirations: What do we want to achieve?
Q: If there is one thing you could change that would impact diversity at Barnard, what would it be?

3. Updates: What’s been done so far?
Reporting from students and faculty on conversations with BC administration.

4. Bridging the gap: How do we get from what’s been done to what we want to achieve?

National LGBTQ Leadership and Aging Award Recipient, Katherine Acey

BCRW Senior Activist Fellow Katherine Acey is being honored at this year’s Creating Change Conference in Chicago for her organizing on aging issues impacting LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color. We are honored to work with such an incredible movement leader.

To honor her steadfast work in fighting for equity and justice for LGBTQ elders, BCRW Senior Activist Fellow Katherine Acey was presented with the Sage National LGBTQ Leadership and Aging Award. Acey has been a leader in movement building and organizing for social justice and LGBTQ liberation from her 23 years at Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice to her ongoing involvement with the Griot Circle. Acey has been dedicated to various organizations that are powerful sites of support, engagement, and activism for the rights and wellbeing of LGBTQ folks who face racial, economic, gender, and age oppressions and. Her extensive involvement in social justice organizing extends to groups such as: Women in the Arts, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, New York Women Against Rape, MADRE and Women Make Movies, National Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, and the Arab Women’s Gathering Organizing Committee.

Listen to the video below to hear Acey’s story of the deeply personal experience of coming up as a esbian and feminist in the wake of the Combahee River Collective Statement. In recognizing the legacy and continued importance of Black feminism as central and informative for collective action, Acey also acknowledgesthe interconnected nature of movements fighting against anti-semitism, for immigration reform, and towards Palestinian liberation.

Watch Acey’s powerful speech here:

For Acey, intergenerational movement building is an important aspect of organizing for the empowerment and self-determination of LGBTQ elders.Cross-generational exchange continues to be a crucial aspect of seeking transformative justice in activist efforts centralizing the livelihood and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities. Acey has shown a passion for organizing at the community level for transformation at the structural level to undo the systems by which LGBTQ elders face legal, social, economic, and racial inequities.  

For Acey, activism is a practice rooted in radical love and that is motivated by visions of collective liberation.

Honoring Resistance and Survival: The Miss Major-Jay Toole Building Giving Circle

The Miss Major Jay Toole Building for Social Justice (MMJT), located at 147 W. 24th Street, is the birthplace of resistance and home to survival. MMJT  houses organizations for and by people of color, centering on the experiences of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming folks, especially those who are low or no-income and homeless. Entering the lobby of the building, you face an elevator with buttons for seven floors lit up. On these floors, in order, exist The Audre Lorde Project (ALP), Streetwise and Safe (SAS), the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), and FIERCE!. The 4th floor of MMJT was formerly the home of Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). With public spaces in NYC for low/no-income queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color being eradicated rapidly, the Miss Major Jay Toole building provides a home, an organizing space, and a location for programs, services, opportunity, and resilience.

This space would not be possible without the efforts of Miss Major and Jay Toole.

Miss Major, a Black trans woman activist and community leader for trans women’s rights, was a leader in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, along with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. She is also a survivor of Attica State Prison and a former sex worker. She is the Executive Director of the Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), an organization working “against imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures” for transgender women of color and their families. In the past, she has also done healthcare and organizational work for people with HIV/AIDS, and continues to work against the prison-industrial complex.

Jay Toole, aka Super Butch, has been organizing around queer and economic justice issues for decades. She became homeless at the age of thirteen, exiled from her home by her father because of her queer identity. For eight years, she was homeless, after which she spent five years in the shelter system. During her time on the streets, she suffered from police violence and was abused by the NYPD, and she became addicted to drugs and alcohol. After recovery and support from her queer family, she became the Co-Founder and the Shelter Director at Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), a radical non-profit organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. Today, she is working on opening Jay’s House, the first shelter for homeless queer adults.

Without the efforts, dedication, and resilience of these two individuals, many queer youth today would not have the access to community, shelter, food, leadership opportunities, resources, computers, education, and workshops that they do today. Let us give back to Miss Major, Jay Toole, and the organizations that have brought us family and are bringing us liberation.

The Miss Major Jay Toole Giving Circle was created by ALP, SAS, SRLP, and FIERCE! as a grassroots giving operation to honor the organizations and the legacies of Miss Major and Jay Toole. Without the Giving Circle, the MMJT organizations are forced to compete with each other for funding, destroying the community and partnership they are so dedicating to building. A gift to the MMJT Building for Social Justice will go to the programming and administrative priorities of these organizations. ALP, SAS, SRLP, and FIERCE! are committed to social justice by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, two spirit, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color, low or no-income people, people involved the sex trades, and youth. A gift to them will go toward resourcing these communities. The Giving Circle’s goal is to raise $67,000 and $10,000 each will go to the Retirement Funds of Miss Major and Jay Toole to honor their living legacies. The remaining funds will be divided amongst the four organizations.

Give to the Miss Major Jay Toole Giving Circle!


“then I moved to Harlem”: The Worlds of Ntozake Shange

Barnard alumna Ntozake Shange (BC ’70) is both the perfect subject for a #HarlemSemester course and a vexed one. One of her most enduring collaborations began in Harlem with choreographer Dianne McIntyre at the Sounds in Motion studio, which in the 1970s and 80s was the only Modern Dance studio in Harlem. However, her best-known evocation of Harlem is of street harassment:

I usedta live in the world
a woman in the world
i hadda right to the world
then I moved to Harlem.

The refrain “then I moved to Harlem” in for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow was enuf captures the dilemma of black women caught between the special promise of belonging for blacks in Harlem and the gendered estrangement and depersonalization we often face in its streets. To have Harlem in mind while studying Shange is to bring her loving attention to black womanhood, gender, space, and movement to a place—like so many—where black women’s concerns are overlooked.
ICP & Books

Our first official Harlem Semester class was actually held in midtown as part of our partnership with The International Center for Photography (ICP). While conducting archival research at our Harlem partner, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the students will learn the basics of photography and digital editing at ICP. Bradly Treadaway, an artist and my ICP co-teacher, introduced us to the photographic traditions behind Roy DeCarava/Langston Hughes’ Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955) and Ntozake Shange’s collaboration with the Kamoinge collective/Frank Stewart, The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African-American Family (2004). These works, dialogues between photography and image set in Harlem, launched what will be a semester long conversation about how one combines text and image to “make” art and scholarship. When we chose Sweet Breath of Life to start the semester, we had no idea that at this very moment Kamoinge would be experiencing a resurgence of public attention. The week before class, ICP was gifted Timeless, the first major catalogue of Kamoinge’s work, and next week the Schomburg is hosting Visually Speaking: The Timeless Art of Kamoinge, an event devoted to their fifty-year history of black image-making.

We were extremely fortunate that Bradly has been much influenced by photographer Roy DeCarava who he says was “grossly under-recognized” by the art world for much of his life. Born in Harlem in 1919, DeCarava was the first African-American to win the prestigious Guggenheim award to document a year of Harlem life. His images revel in the beauty of everyday black life, ranging from the now-iconic sight of boys playing in open fire hydrants to the intimacy of a women enjoying a moment of solitude in a window, to a couple at a house party. Looking at them now, we can see the brilliance of his artistry, but to understand why his focus on the ordinary was so remarkable and so misunderstood, it helps to remember that his images existed against a background of the popular black stereotypes and images of black poverty even more dominant than now.

DeCarava was not able to find a publisher for his work: it was only when Langston Hughes agreed to lend his voice to the photographs that Simon and Shuster agreed to publish an inexpensive edition. Out of the images, Hughes creates a story told through the voice of Sister Mary Bradley, a transplanted South Carolinian living at 113 West 134th Street at the dawn of integration. She is called “home” to heaven, but refuses the message because “I might be sick, but as yet I ain’t no ways tired.” The images are in dialogue with her ruminations about her family and Harlem life: we meet Rodney, the troublesome grandson, “Ella’s mother,” and her “middle boy.” Hughes text makes visible in DeCarava’s photographs an idea of Harlem as an extended family in the black diaspora (something James Baldwin also noted as an “almost African” quality of Harlem (I Remember Harlem).

If Sweet Flypaper of Life is bracketed by transitions from South to North, segregation to integration, and life to death, Sweet Breath of Life is literally framed by black girlhood, a state of beauty and possibility that drives Shange’s art. The first pairing of text and image foregrounds two major themes: the significance of black girlhood and the need for black adornment/self-creation:

a girl needs quiet to get to herself
my made self decorated with my braids

Ntozake Shange

Shange’s work always makes space for black girls: she knows how often the world forgets their need to “get to herself”–to dream, ponder, imagine– away from outside definitions (and the catcalls) that come with black womanhood. As with Hughes’ dialogue with DeCarava’s photographs, Shange gives us a lens for seeing qualities that might be hidden to the inattentive. If we couldn’t see the girl’s momentum, her multiple positions, her connection to family and Harlem history in the Lon Draper photograph, we know from the poem that the everyday black girl is a sacred creature, full of possibility: she is a “grand lil girl in all of her glory.” The playful typography projects variation and movement, unique like her:

grand ol’ houses that have seen better days
but never anyone like me.

She is, as much as the ivy embellished walls, rooted in Harlem:

my dreams
ivies up the walls of this grand ol’ house /rushin’
out the corner of my eyes / do you see
something out there for me?

For more information about Harlem Semester, email harlemsemester@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @ShangeWorlds or @HarlemSemester

Oral History Collection: Barnard College Class of 1971

BCRW is excited to announce that the oral histories of the Barnard Class of 1971, held at the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, are now available for student and community researchers to view and utilize. These oral histories offer a window into the social and political lives of feminists who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Members of the Barnard Class of 1971 were inspired by a suggestion from the late Barnard Political Science Professor Peter Juviler, who, upon participating in a reunion conversation among BC ’71 alums about their experiences during the Columbia Student Building Occupation and Strike in April 1968, urged them to collect and share their stories. Stirred by Professor Juviler’s perspective, a group of BC ’71 alumnae incorporated the not-for-profit BC Voices, Inc., setting out to create a collection containing the oral histories (life stories) of class members of BC ’71 in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections.

To date, BC Voices has interviewed 35 classmates and donated the video tapes and transcripts to the Barnard Class of 1971 Oral History Collection (BC ’71 OHC). By Spring 2016, an additional 30-40 interviews will be added to the BC ’71 OHC. The oral histories reflect the diversity of the women of BC ’71 in terms of their geographic, socio-economic, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as the choices they have made and the lives they have lived since their Barnard days.

Watch a short video with excerpts from the first interviews, focusing on experiences at Barnard and on the events of 1968:

The Barnard Class of 1971 Oral History Collection provides rich, primary source material on the many issues that touched women’s lives from 1949 to the present. Classmates speak fully and frankly about growing up in the Jim Crow south; being the child of Holocaust survivors; life and learning at a Seven Sisters college; occupying buildings in 1968; and as a commuter, coming home every night to questioning parents. They also share their early experiences with the Women’s Liberation movement, reproductive justice, queer liberation, anti-racism, and more.

These conversations highlight the historical trajectory of student involvement in activism on campus and in New York City, be it in anti-war or anti-gentrification organizing, and its impact on social justice feminisms today.

The BC ’71 OHC is in active use by scholars at Barnard and Columbia and is currently being digitized by the Barnard Archives to make it available to the general public.

For more information on the project, contact Katherine Brewster, President BC Voices, Inc., bcvoicesinc [at] gmail.com. To access the BC ’71 OHC in the Barnard Archives, researchers can contact Shannon O’Neill, Barnard Archivist, soneill [at] barnard.edu.

New S&F Online: Navigating Neoliberalism in the Academy, Nonprofits, and Beyond

Nicci Yin's octopus illustration

Guest Edited by Soniya Munshi and Craig Willse
Contributors include Ujju Aggarwal, Gabriel Arkles, Maile Arvin, Myrl Beam, Alisa Bierria, Avi Cummings, Hope Dector, Treva Ellison, Pooja Gehi, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Lani Hanna, Gillian Harkins, Priya Kandaswamy, Paul Kivel, Soo Ah Kwon, Colby Lenz, Edwin Mayorga, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Vero Ordaz, Dylan Rodríguez, Rori Rohlfs, Paula X. Rojas, Dean Spade, and Lee Ann S. Wang. 

This issue of S&F Online looks at the nonprofit and the university as two key sites in which neoliberal social and economic formations are constituted and contested. 

Emerging out of a 2009 meeting at the American Studies Association convened by Munshi and Willse and drawing on the theoretical and historical models articulated by INCITE! Women, Gender Non-conforming, and Trans People of Color Against Violence, the collection asks: What are the possibilities for transformative politics given the capacity of neoliberal capital to incorporate, absorb and/or neutralize demands for social justice? 

Essays in this issue offer theoretical arguments grounded in case studies on a wide range of topics, including the role of civic engagement in women’s and ethnic studies programs, the constitution of community through nonprofits in and against Hawai’ian sovereignty movements, the reconstitution of privatized prison education programs in the wake of their defunding and dismantling by the state, and the commodification of “gay youth” in LGBT nonprofit worlds, among others.

Queer Dreams Part 1: What are We Fighting For? from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

In addition to groundbreaking scholarship, this issue includes an exhibit from Interference Archive, a collaborative research project on mapping police violence, and an original video series, “Understanding the Nonprofit Industrial Complex,” featuring interviews with Christine Ahn, Trishala Deb, Kenyon Farrow, Reina Gossett, Shira Hassan, Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Imani Henry, Amber Hollibaugh, N’Tanya Lee, Andrea Ritchie, Dean Spade, Urvashi Vaid, Jason Walker, and Craig Willse.

Read the full issue at http://sfonline.barnard.edu/navigating-neoliberalism-in-the-academy-nonprofits-and-beyond.

FILM SCREENING: “I Remember Harlem”

We are excited to announce the launch of a BCRW and Africana Studies joint initiative: the Harlem Semester! 

The Harlem Semester offers a new way for students and faculty to be in closer dialogue with our Harlem neighbors and connect to the rich history of Harlem’s sociopolitical organizing and cultural legacy.

I Remember HarlemOur opening Harlem Semester event is an public screening of Bill Miles’ film “I Remember Harlem” (Parts I and II) on Friday, January 29th at 6pm at the Held Auditorium in Barnard Hall.  The screening will be followed by a discussion and Q&A with producer Juanita Howard. For more information on the event, visit: http://bcrw.barnard.edu/event/film-screening-i-remember-harlem-parts-i-and-ii/

A Harlem resident his entire life, Miles grew up on 126th Street, behind the Apollo Theater and spent a lifetime documenting African-American history and culture. “I Remember Harlem” was a singular achievement, documenting Harlem history from its beginnings as a Dutch settlement, to its status as “the Negro Mecca” in the 1920s to its later status an an icon of “urban renewal” efforts in the 1980s. The film screened in its entirety, over four nights, on PBS in 1981.

About the Harlem Semester: 

The Harlem Semester, a public humanities initiative, immerses students in the neighborhood’s deep cultural, social, and political history, through partnerships with the Apollo Theater, the Harlem Stage, the National Black Theatre, the Studio Museum of Harlem and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Using Barnard as a home base for six classes in the spring semester of 2016, the Harlem Semester integrates classroom learning with hands-on experiences like master classes and archival research, and allows faculty to co-teach courses with curators, archivists, administrators and artists at partner institutions.

For more information on Harlem Semester, contact africana@barnard.edu and follow @BCRWTweets or #HarlemSemester on Twitter.

BCRW Spring 2016 Newsletter


Tina CamptThis spring, BCRW will host an exciting array of events pivoting on a complex engagement with the ethics and politics of life-making. Framing these events is a central question: What are the challenges we face as feminist scholars, activists, writers, artists, and thinkers fashioning, fighting for, and building a world for lives worth living in the 21st century?

Our speakers and events this semester grapple with this question from a multitude of vantage points. Our 41st annual Scholar and Feminist Conference poses the question of how we sustain the activist movements, community institutions, and critical practices that are most crucial to making a livable world where, as our keynote speaker Reina Gossett states so powerfully, ‘no one is disposable.’ Amber Hollibaugh will share her work to centralize working-class and poor LGBTQ people in anti-poverty, labor, and LGBTQ organizing. And together we will reflect on the creative and contestatory narratives of queer life and family-making so beautifully articulated in the writing of Maggie Nelson at a book salon honoring her captivating memoir, The Argonauts.

Similarly, the writerly ethics and politics of life-making are, as always, at the core of our Caribbean Feminisms on the Page series, and this semester, we will expand these conversations beyond the Barnard campus to stream an additional dialogue broadcast from Barnard’s Global Symposium in Paris. The challenges of alternative practices of life-making will also be a central theme of the first annual Black Lesbian Conference: “The Evolution of Our Community,” hosted by BCRW and organized by Beyond Bold and Brave.

These are just a few of the highlights of our programs in the upcoming semester. We look forward to seeing you in the coming months and hearing your insights into what it means to fashion a life worth living in the 21st Century.

All best wishes,

Tina Campt


THE SCHOLAR & FEMINIST ONLINE 13.2: Navigating Neoliberalism in the Academy, Nonprofits, and Beyond

This issue of the Scholar & Feminist Online uses the theoretical and historical models articulated by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence to critique the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) and later the academic industrial complex (AIC) to explore the non-profit and the university as two key sites in which neoliberal social and economic reforms are constituted and contested. This issue is edited by Soniya Munshi and Craig Willse. Authors in this issue include Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Reina Gossett, Kenyon Farrow, Trishala Deb, Pooja Gehi, Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Imani Henry, Shira Hassan, Amber Hollibaugh, Colby Lenz, Dean Spade, and many more. This issue also includes videos from the 2013 conference “Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues” produced by Hope Dector.

Available free online at http://sfonline.barnard.edu.

BCRW and Africana Studies Department Launch the Harlem Semester Program

Spring 2016 marks the inaugural launch of the Harlem Semester – an ambitious public humanities initiative that explores the myriad forms of black culture and politics emerging in and around Harlem. Organized by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Department of Africana Studies, the Harlem Semester pairs faculty research and instruction with venerated Harlem institutions to teach the neighborhood’s rich cultural and political legacy.


Black Light: Tom Lloyd, Lorraine O’Grady, and the Effect of Art Historical Disappearance
Krista Thompson
Natalie Boymel Kampen Memorial Lecture in Feminist Criticism and History
Krista Thompson
Thursday, February 11 | 6-7:30 PM
Event Oval, The Diana Center

Tom Lloyd was a black artist among the first wave working with light and electronic technologies in the 1960s. His early centrality in the mainstream 1960s New York art world is belied by the bare archival and material traces that remain of his work. Taking a cue from performance artist Lorraine O’Grady’s Caribbean-inspired public performances as Miles Bourgeoise Noire, art historian Krista Thompson experiments with more expansive definitions of art and new methodologies of writing art history and recovering the lost history of this important black photographer.



The Scholar and Feminist 41: Sustainabilities
A conference
Saturday, February 27 | 10 AM – 6:30 PM
The Diana Center, Barnard College

In the forty-first year of BCRW’s cornerstone conference, we are taking seriously and appropriating the framework of sustainability to ask how we can sustain the material, financial, creative, cultural, spiritual, and communal resources necessary to maintain the vitality of our communities, movements, and critical feminist inquiry. The conference brings together feminist scholars, activists, artists and community members from various constituencies to address the obstacles they face–including biomedical models of health and wellness; anti-black police and state violence; and the far-reaching tentacles of neoliberalism shrinking public resources and expanding the prison industrial complex. Panelists will address the creative and courageous responses they have developed for creating and sustaining their work as activists, scholars and visionaries working toward housing justice, ending poverty and incarceration, and building feminist knowledge production as theory, research, teaching, and praxis. Visionary activist and thinker Reina Gossett will be the keynote speaker.

Presenters include:

Katherine Acey, Yana Calou, Charmaine Crawford, Kate D’Adamo, Ejeris Dixon, Geleni Fontaine, Kenyon Farrow, Gabriel Foster, Elliott Fukui, Reina Gossett, Ryan Hickey, Amber Hollibaugh, Deanna James, Gregory Jost, Joo-Hyun Kang, Frances Kunreuther, Jamal Lewis, Naima Lowe, Cara Page, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Ola Osaze, Krystal Portalatin, Tara Shuai, Alison Swartz, Rebecca Weinberger, Sondra Youdelman, and more.

For more information, visit http://bcrw.barnard.edu/sf41.



Caribbean Feminisms on the Page III: In Paris
Reading and Discussion
Maryse Condé and Fabienne Kanor, moderated by Kaiama L. Glover
Thursday, March 17 5-6:30 PM
Reid Hall, Paris, France

Taking place during Barnard’s 2016 Global Symposium in Paris, this conversation will feature esteemed writer and former Columbia University faculty member Maryse Condé and renowned contemporary Franco­Martinican novelist and filmmaker Fabienne Kanor. Building on a rich tradition of artists and writers moving between the French-speaking Caribbean and France, these writers will discuss the specific gendered realities of transnational migration and Afro-Europeanness.



Caribbean Feminisms on the Page IV
Reading and Discussion
Gloria Joseph and Naomi Jackson
Thursday, March 24 | 6-7:30 PM
Event Oval, The Diana Center

This literary series pairs established writers with emerging novelists to discuss their work, their engagements with the Caribbean and its diaspora, and their experiences as women writing in and about the region. In this event, distinguished writer Gloria Joseph and debut novelist Naomi Jackson are in conversation, discussing their recent publications. Joseph presents her newest work, a bio/anthology entitled The Wind is Spirit: The Life, Love, and Legacy of Audre Lorde, and Jackson discusses her novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill.



The Evolution of Our Community: Black Lesbian Conference 2016
Black Lesbian Conference
Presented by Beyond Bold and Brave
Friday, March 25 – Saturday, March 26
The Diana Center, Barnard College

Beyond Bold and Brave’s 2016 Black Lesbian Conference: “The Evolution of Our Community” will be a gathering of transgender and cisgender Black/African descent lesbians, from youth to elders, and people with varied class, education, and life/work histories. Participants will discuss important concerns in a respectful, welcoming, and authentic environment. Conference content will focus on Black/African descent lesbians in the greater New York City area. National and international communities are welcome to support, attend, and participate. For more information, visit bcrw.barnard.edu/blc2016.



BCRW Archive Fever

che gossettLunchtime Lecture
Che Gossett
Wednesday, April 6 | 12 – 1 PM
BCRW, 101 Barnard Hall

In this lecture, BCRW Student Coordinator and Community Archivist Che Gossett will discuss the history and emerging future of the BCRW archives as they become housed in special collections and digitized. The BCRW archives hold a remarkable record of the organization’s life and work and Gossett will be discussing some of the most fascinating archival material alongside the changing meanings of social justice feminism.



The Argonauts: A Salon in Honor of Maggie Nelson
maggie nelsonSalon
Maggie Nelson, Christina CrosbySaidiya Hartman, and Heather Love
Thursday, April 14 | 6-7:30 PM
James Room

In her widely acclaimed memoir, The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson writes, “There is much to be learned from wanting something both ways.” Undeterred by contradiction, she follows her desires and then “reckons” with the consequences. Her distinctive lyrical voice creates a singular intimacy with her audience. She draws into this intimacy a wide range of theorists whose italicized words become one with her own. Defying traditional genres, Nelson powerfully weaves theory into a narrative of queer relations and family-making, juxtaposing such supposed opposites as transgressive and normative politics, reproductive and sodomitical motherhood, and intellectual and domestic life to tell a different kind of story. BCRW’s sixth annual book salon celebrates Nelson’s remarkable exploration of intimacy, writing, and life-making.



Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies: Queer Precarity and the Myth of Gay Affluence
Amber Hollibaugh
Lunchtime Lecture
Amber Hollibaugh
Wednesday, April 20 | 12-1 pm
CRW, 101 Barnard Hall

Queer precarity is a reality. As the wealth gap continues to grow, LGBTQ people struggle with increasing hardships and economic crises, alongside the majority of working-class and poor Americans. Economic precarity has necessitated new forms of labor organizing, including worker centers and union–community partnerships. But the particular struggles of queer, trans,  and gender non-conforming people remain sidelined, both in scholarly work and in the LGBTQ and labor movements themselves. Class, race, the erotic, gender identity, sexuality, and desire: How are these issues intertwined and interlocked in our analysis and in our organizing?



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Edwidge Danticat

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Content Warning: This piece contains descriptions and statistics concerning the physical and sexual violence against and the murders of Dalit people.

Dalit women all over South Asia are starting and leading historic movements to end caste-apartheid and caste-based sexual violence. The #DalitWomenFight United States tour began in September, and self-organized Dalit women like Anjum Singh, Manisha Mashaal, and Thenmozhi Soundararajan have been sharing their stories no matter how persistently Hindu fundamentalists have tried to silence them.

I attended a die-in in Times Square on October 17, standing in front of the Red Steps, listening to these women’s stories and recognized that caste is something so much larger than religion. The caste system is racist, classist, and colorist. Caste apartheid is anti-blackness and anti-indigenous. An institutional system of violence, caste is a death sentence from birth, with your family’s caste ranking determining your entire life, including your job, spiritual purity, and social standing. Those at the bottom are condemned to a life of exploitation and violent discrimination. The caste system has a death count, and it is not a small one.  In 2014, over 744 Dalits were killed, many of them children burned alive at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists

Dalit Women Fight protest

#DalitWomenFight protestors, varied in age, gender identity, and color, perform a die-in in Times Square. They lie on the ground covered in fake blood behind a poster featuring an image of the Indian subcontinent, blood-spattered, titled “ATROCITY NATION #ENDCASTEAPARTHEIDNOW.”

Caste is everywhere in India and even more intensified in the diaspora, where Hindus facing xenophobia and racism, cling to fundamentalism and traditionalism for safety. Unfortunately, for Dalits and Adivasis, this foundation of the caste system in diasporic life results in an apartheid that has simply translated into a different language. In India, upper-caste Hindus, often light-skinned, receive lower interest rates for loans, better-paying jobs, and occupy most political offices. In North America, South Asian institutions carry over job discrimination, with only a handful of Dalit faculty in the over fifty South Asian and Asian Studies college departments.

India’s Hindu varna, or caste, system has been under scrutiny for decades. Divided hierarchically into five groups, the caste system consists of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Sudras, and the so-called “Untouchables.” These pariahs have given themselves the name Dalit, meaning “oppressed,” or more specifically, “broken by oppression, but defined by struggle,” to call for the abolition of this system. Hierarchically, this system is ordered by race or color, light-skinned Brahmins at the top and Black, dark-skinned, and indigenous Dalits and Adivasis at the bottom. 

The Dalits are numbered at about 260 million in India’s 1.3-billion person population, by no means an invisible number. However, they live segregated lives, residing in separate villages, praying in separate places of worship, drinking from separate water fountains, and learning in separate schools. They are not allowed to wear shoes in the presence of upper caste people or to drink and eat from the same utensils. The caste system is a lethal one, in which Dalit women are raped, murdered, and burned, where Dalit men are castrated, where the Dalit people are slaughtered, lynched, and brutally assaulted time and time again. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, two Dalits are assaulted every hour and four Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched every day. This violence is meant to silence Dalit communities, to keep Dalit women from receiving justice.

But they cannot silence Dalit women.

I myself have a complex, yet privileged, caste identity, coming from a light-skinned Brahmin father and a darker-toned Vaishnavi non-Brahmin mother. Walking in the dusty streets of India, I would be perceived as Brahmin walking alone next to my father, yet non-Brahmin while accompanying my mother. Beyond that, I am gender nonconforming, or third-gender, unsure of my place in India and existing outside of a caste system that has yet to accommodate people like myself. It is vital, however, that I use my caste privilege to bolster the voices of Dalit women, who do not have and have never had the same opportunities as myself, let alone the privilege to ignore their caste identities as I have until now.

Only in liberation for the Dalits and Adivasis of India can we all achieve liberation. Until Dalit women are free, no woman is free.

Dalit Women Fight

Three Dalit women hold lit-up signs that say #DalitWomenFight