Sarah’s Take on An Open Discussion

Recently in class I was given the opportunity to participate in open  discussion with my classmates. As usual, I found it so interesting to be able to bounce ideas off my peers, hearing their insight as well as their perspective on the topics that we learn about, both inside and outside of the class setting. One of the discussions we had I found particularly interesting, because it touched upon so many subjects. I was especially astounded as the fact that we started and ended the conversation in two completely different subjects, but these subjects were related in terms of the flow of conversation.  I am going to share the main points of this discussion below, sharing my insight as well as my new findings and hopefully as you read you’ll gain a thing or two from the conversation.

It is hard for me to recall how we initially started but at some point someone asked about the lecture by Kim Vaz-Deville. I had not been at the lecture due to previous obligations but I also wanted to know what the lecture was mainly about to see if any topics sparked my interest. If I recall correctly, TA Katelyn summarized the main points of the lecture, specifically discussing how Kim Vaz-Deville emphasized the ideas of building reciprocal connections and mutual empowerment when it came to her finding the Baby Dolls and having them agree to have her write their story. I would just like to point out that when she was speaking about this, I was reminded of a lesson from my Anthropology class about how anthropologists go about doing case studies on specific groups of peoples/cultures. Specifically, my professor had discussed this same idea of needing to form connections in order to establish a friendly relationship where you (the anthropologist/researcher) are seen as a friend and not an outsider looking to take advantage of a group of people. Katelyn had mentioned that Kim Vaz-Deville stressed the idea of mutual empowerment; making use of ones platform or position to empower a group such as the Baby Dolls. Another student provided another example of this as she discussed how her professor, a white male, often visited Latin American countries to study pottery. This professor was met with severe backlash from the community because of the fact that he was a foreigner. Once again, the necessity of reciprocal connections is shown. The idea that you’d be able to learn more as a part of a community rather than as an outsider looking in.

On that note, one of my other classmates, Amina, asked for our insight on a topic she felt related to the discussion. Womanism. Amina explained how womanism was a derivation of feminism that focused more on the problems and inequalities that African American women faced in everyday society. Womanism is often seen as a rejection of feminism in that its focus is solely on addressing and fixing the issues of African American women, issues that were underrepresented as a part of the Feminist movement and sexual oppressed in the Black Liberation Movement.  This led to us discussing this idea of having double consciousness within the Womanist movement. The idea of double consciousness is one that is stressed a lot in the “Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B DuBois. Double consciousness describes the feeling of ones identity being a unity of different parts, so much that it is almost impossible to have a unified identity.  In the case of womanism, African American women face the unique dilemma of having both a “disadvantaged” race AND gender. The are burdened with the inequalities of being a woman, and well as the inequalities that come with being black. I felt a strong connection to this topic, because I face this dilemma everyday. Not only as an African American female, but also as a college student, the decendent of immigrants from Haiti, and as a person who wants a future career in government. All of these aspects of my identity make it hard for me to narrow me down to one thing. And I feel that over time, I’ve become comfortable with that.

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