Experiences of Women of Color Highlighted in June 3 Event in Hudson Hosted by Minority Students in Action
by Cassie Barnes, student, SUNY Empire State College; member, Minority Students in Action
January 5, 2017
Women of color have distinct experiences based on their various characteristics, including race, religion and class, factors in how gender and race will affect their placement in today’s society. Appreciating those social nuances, the SUNY Empire State College student group Minority Students in Action is hosting the Women of Color Seminar at 9 a.m. on June 3 at the college’s Hudson location, 325 Hudson St., 5th floor, New York City 10013. MSiA has 100 members across the college.
The purpose of the seminar is to provide a space for women of color to appreciate and articulate their unique perspectives, raise consciousness and build cross-cultural alliances among women. Organizers Layla Abdullah-Poulos, Erin Young, Tanya Thompson, Nadine Wedderburn and several student volunteers hope to construct platforms that encourage cultural relevance and dialogue.
“Women of color at Empire and in society need opportunities to come together and interact for positive social change,” said Abdullah-Poulos. “When we listen and support each other, we become a positive force for progress.”
This year’s Women of Color Seminar will offer concurrent sessions of workshops and presentations, as well as a Woman’s Solidarity Panel including women of color students, faculty and activists from diverse backgrounds.
Keynote speaker Vivian Nixon is a SUNY Empire State College alumna and executive director of the College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal histories and their families.
SUNY Empire State College alumna Michelle Elder is scheduled to present on women of color and entrepreneurship, and author Emma Gomez will read from her book, “Emma Gomez: A Courageous Woman Displays True Grit.”
Gomez explained her reasons for attending the Women of Color Seminar. “Being a minority woman myself and being aware of some of the struggles we face, I found it interesting to share my wisdom with other minority women, making it easy for them to improve their quality of life.”
The Women of Color Seminar also will feature presentations from faculty across the college, including Erin Young, Nadine Wedderburn and Audeliz Matias.
Attorney Bina Ahmad will present a “Know Your Rights” workshop. Ahmad cites solidarity and inspiration for women of color as her motives for presenting at the seminar. She said, “I believe in sisterhood and lifting up sisters of color and building true solidarity. As part of my work as a social justice attorney, I give ‘Know Your Rights’ trainings to give legal knowledge and power back to the community, particularly those communities most heavily targeted by the state.”
Minority Students in Action plans to announce the formation of a white paper panel of SUNY Empire students supervised by Rhianna C. Rogers. The panel will explore the experiences of women of color at the college.
Chief Diversity Officer for Institutional Effectiveness and Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator Elliott Dawes said, “I am deeply grateful to MSiA members for demonstrating great leadership by creating a space for a series of multifaceted workshops, panel discussions and lectures that will focus on the experiences, perspectives and concerns of women of color and place them at the center of the discourse. I look forward to attending.” Dawes is SUNY Empire’s first administrator to hold this title.
Online registration is available at the alumni events page.
This event is funded by the SUNY Empire State College Student Activity Fee.