Wells College presents the 17th annual Activism Symposium, centered on the theme "The Transformation into Action: Centering Blackness." A day-long collection of student panel discussions, presentations, workshops and more will conclude with a keynote lecture titled "The World is Hungry for your Stories" by filmmaker Roni Nicole Henderson and Activism Symposium founder Saira Raza '02.
The schedule is below. Please note that this information is subject to change. Check on the day of the event for the most accurate information.
Zabriskie Hall Lobby
Chandler Smith '18
Intersections of Cannabis, Race, and Deviance
Sociology 235 and Visiting Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Shilpa Khabhari
Few studies have addressed the role of blackness and deviance as a factor in investigating the impact and influence of cannabis amongst college students at a small private liberal arts college. With a focus on perceptions, stereotypes, and race as a determining factor, this study employs various methodologies to examine the perception of cannabis use on the Wells College campus. Findings and future implications of the study will be discussed.
Decolonizing the Playlist
Karinna Custer '18
Almost all "American Music" comes from Black creators and activists. Yet due to the whitewashing of American History, white people have been given credit for genres that were actually made and influenced by Black voices. This presentation will be focused around a playlist that centers the Black activist voices that created the genres of music which make up the "American" genre.
Chrissy Dance Class: Exploring Urban & Traditional West African Dance
Christine Johnson-Alexander '18
Chrissy Dance Clash is a blend of West African sounds and styles. From St. Kitts to Senegal, Grenada to Ghana, Trinidad to Togo, Barbados to Nigeria. Chrissy Dance Clash encourages all to take charge of their health through exercise, while uniting people through the universal love of dance. By offering dance as fitness in a caring, supportive atmosphere, communities will look at fitness as pleasant and consistent while having a blast doing it.
The Importance of Representation: Focusing on Black and Brown Women in Science
Ketricia Timmons '19 (moderator), Adrianna Tarleton '19, Jhorleny Familia '19, Aaliyah McNair '19, Kara Reynolds '20, André Johnson '19, Bellina Mushala '19, Dinae Moran '18, Rosalety Galea '19
This student-led panel incorporates intersectional ways of thinking, as well as centering Black feminist methodologies in that it aims to include the importance of women of color's work and contributions to science. We will address the absence of women of color in science, and how incorporating these women into institutions is absolutely necessary, as the representation of marginalized groups is vital.
Cultivating Anti-Racist White Identities
Kaylee Schworm '18 and Noa Tia '18
Using methodologies provided by psychologist Janet Helms, this workshop will focus on how positive white racial identities play a part in combating racism and systematic oppression. Participants will be given a list of items regarding racial concepts and ideologies and asked to note how much they agree or disagree with said statements. This will be followed with open discussion regarding the statements provided.
My Hair Is My Crown: The Diversity and Difference of Black Hair
Brandon Jackson '20
Black hair is important and Black hair is a lifestyle. This session will explore both historic and present conversations around Black hair, while promoting hair autonomy in the Black community as a means of self-expression. By looking through lenses of gender and class, this workshop will also illustrate the diversity of Black hair.
Generations of African/Diaspora Women in the Struggle for Social Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Intersectionality in Action
Dr. N’Dri Assié-Lumumba
As social agents engaged in struggles for fundamental human rights, women of Africa and the African Diaspora have historically formulated their thoughts and organized their practical actions in the framework of a collective ethos. A thorough analysis of the framing of these discourses and actions reveals a thread by which they consider systematically and simultaneously the badges of identity upon which inequality and discrimination are constructed. This presentation is a conceptual essay using illustrations from the encounters within the Western post-Westphalian context of Trans-Atlantic enslavement and its legacy, the anti-colonial/decolonization struggles, and the contemporary framing of Black Lives Matter and Afropolitan movements.
Afro-Carribean Girl Magic
Anthony White '18 and Katherine Puello '18
An art exhibition showcasing the beauty and culture of Black and Caribbean women. We are looking at the ways that Black and Caribbean women represent their culture and beauty through traditional clothing, headwraps, jewelry, among others. Black and Caribbean women’s voices are often silenced and oppressed in media and scholarship. Our purpose is to provide Black and Caribbean women at Wells with a voice to express their culture and roots.
The World is an Unsafe Space: Navigating Life in a Neo-liberal State as a Black Trans Woman
A workshop to explore ways in which self-proclaimed allies fail to truly support gender-variant people through recounting personal experiences as a Black trans woman in the predominantly white, liberal state of Vermont. This workshop will make space for allies to reevaluate ideas of gender. By complicating gender through notions of race and class, I strive to make allies more supportive of people outside the normative parameters of gender expression.
Anti-Blackness in Asian Communities: Exploring the Dichotomy of Western and Eastern Colorism
Toni Oliveri '19 and Visiting Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Shilpa Karbhari
Embracing one's own culture can be a great source of pride. One of the most difficult aspects of unpacking an individual's identity is noting how it intersects with others and pointing out flaws in cultural ways of thinking. Within the Asian and Asian-American communities, activists tend to gloss over anti-blackness and colorism and how they permeate our cultures. This presentation will evoke self-reflection and engage with this dialogue.
The Unheard Voices: Black Women’s Perspective
Ariel Adams '16, Daleysha Lockhart '16, Jamyra Young '15, Phylicia Green '15, Stephanie Moore '18, Alyssa Venable '19 (Moderator)
Black women at Wells have unique, riveting, and transformative experiences that redefine and shape the campus culture. Their presence at a predominantly white college subtly influences the livelihood of everyone, but their voices are seldom heard. This panel aims to break silences, bridge differences, and create coalition by uplifting the experiences of four Black alumnae and one Black, female current student as they speak their truth.
Black Women’s Experiences within Psychology
Chasity Daniels '19
Do you ever question why you don't learn much about about African American people in professional psychology? This thesis proposal presentation will examine the lack of representation in psychology through an intersectional lens by analyzing the effects of race, class, and gender on African American women in psychology. It will touch upon the ways in which Black women are made invisible, but still present and making groundbreaking work.
Reflections: Art as a Method of Synthesis
Kateri Pelton '18
Join us for a reflection session on thoughts and new ideas experienced throughout the day. Art is an important tool for imaginative synthesis and reflection, so supplies will be provided as a way to express thoughts through physical, creative media. Artwork made during this session will be turned into a collaborative installation. Come for reflection through coloring and collage and grab a warm beverage before heading to the keynote talk!
The World is Hungry for your Stories
Roni Nicole Henderson & Saira Raza '02
In her short film bridge/refrain, Roni Nicole Henderson explores a young woman’s arrival in the land of the ancestors after falling victim to gun violence. Here, she discovers that though there is healing for her wounds and safety in the arms of benevolent beings, her work is far from done. A beautiful antique vanity serves as a vehicle through which she discovers her charge and her crown: black bodies, buckling, but not breaking under the weight of American life. She takes her place amongst those who uphold us: The Crowned Ones.
After a screening, Henderson will share insights on her process and journey as an artist. Often focusing on Black women as central characters, much of her work celebrates movement and dance as a vehicle for processing trauma, reconnecting with ancestors, and communing with nature. As a highly collaborative process, filmmaking becomes a spiritual and healing experience, which serves to enrich the cast and crew as much as the audience.
Saira Raza ’02 provided the sound design and music for bridge/refrain and will discuss her inspirations and motivations to create. Raza’s work explores themes of self-actualization, confronting fears, and “the hero’s journey.” Finding and learning to use one’s voice is each individual’s personal revolution to experience, especially for oppressed people. It is an essential exercise in the journey towards positive social change.
Latesha Fussell, Director of Campus Life for Diversity and Inclusion
The guidance of Professors Vic Muñoz & Lisa Hall
David Foote, Assistant Director of Communications
Wells College Programming Board
Office of Student Activities & Leadership
The Grind Management Team
WGS 310 Feminist Methodologies Class
The Dean of Students Office
The Social Sciences Division
Since 2002, Activism Symposium has been an annual opportunity for the Wells community to gather and learn more about the difference we each can make individually and collectively in this world. The purpose of the student-centered symposium is to promote civic engagement, encourage critical thinking, and find links between the academy and the world at large. One objective of the day is to empower Wells and local community members to use the college as a space for advancing social justice and community development through interdisciplinary study.