Intersectionality is a method of examining the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender. It can be used to try to understand the way that women can live very different experiences, even though they’re all female-identifying. Their race, social standing and economic status all have an impact on their experience as women.
“Black women exist at the intersection of blackness and womanhood,” Adriel Miller, fourth-year STU student, explained.
Couch, Coffee, and Convos: Black Women Taking Up Space, is an event being put on by the University Women’s Centre designed to have open dialogue about issues affecting women in the Black community. The event takes place on Feb. 19 at the Alumni Memorial Building from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Miller, organizer of the event, said the organization process is rewarding because she gets to bring Black women together to discuss and correct an important issue.
UNB Fredericton is holding six Black History Month events this year including Couch, Coffee, and Convos. St. Thomas University has five Black History Month events and projects underway including an art showcase, a dance event and a panel.
Miller says both STU and UNB have been making strides in the number of inclusive events. “We had an amazing Black History Month last year, and this year, we have a list of events that are going to be absolutely amazing,” Miller said. “But there's always room for improvement.”
When recognizing Black History Month and Black women, women like Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Viola Desmond come to mind, but upon attending the Black Women Taking Up Space discussion, some other, less widely-known, but equally strong and empowered Black women will be introduced.
“It took some time to find Black women in certain positions that would be open to having a conversation about their experiences,” Miller said.
Speakers include third-year STU Criminology student Felomena Deogratsias, second-year UNB PhD candidate Alicia Noreiga, community advocate Joanne Owuor, and UNB assistant professor of History and Gender and Women’s Studies Funké Aladejebi.
The topic for discussion is "Building the Black Female Community: Intergenerational Dialogues with Black Women and Girls.”
“It’s about starting the conversation and continuing [it],” Miller said.
Black History Month is recognized and celebrated in February, and celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians. The theme for 2020 is “Canadians of African Descent: Going forward guided by the past.”
Miller said the event and what will come out of it will be more than the two hours of panel discussion. The conversation will continue, networking opportunities will arise and, hopefully, a sense of female, Black community will be created.
Despite her upcoming graduation signalling an end coming to her journey at St. Thomas, Miller hopes the space for conversation among Black women will carry on into the coming years.
She also wants it to be known that despite the event being for Black History Month, everyone is invited.
“Everyone is welcome to come. It’s a learning experience for everyone,” Miller said. “It’s a learning experience for me.”