On Thursday, Oct. 15, The Vocal Box, Sunset Press, For Us By Us and the Black Student Union co-sponsored a panel discussing misogynoir. The panel is the first in The Vocal Box’s “Say Our Names” series.
According to a Student-Info email from The Vocal Box, misogynoir is “the intersectionality of racism and sexism relating to black women.” The queer Black feminist Moya Bailey coined the term in 2010, combining “noir,” the French word for black, and concepts relating to misogyny.
The panelists included Black female students Zola Gray ’23, Cherish Banks ’22, Mo Kamara ’22, Nyandeng Juag ’22, Talisha Ward ’23, Felecia Hamilton ’22 and Dana Diallo ’23. The panel covered a variety of discussion topics, including common stereotypes of Black women such as the “angry Black woman.”
Banks recounted a personal experience with stereotyping while at her job. “[My manager] said, ‘It seems like whenever I pressure you, you seem pissed off,’” she said. “I have a mask on, you can’t even see my face — how do I look pissed off? Why is that your default?”
Another topic of discussion was colorism, or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, especially among people of the same ethnic or racial group. Juag noted how colorism is detrimental to Black women in a very tangible way. “Whenever I have conversations about colorism it always focuses on ‘people don’t see dark-skinned women as attractive,’” she said. “But also there’s data and studies that show that dark-skinned people are more likely to have longer prison sentences … it’s more than just people won’t swipe right on Black women on Tinder.”
A common topic throughout the evening was the murder of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who police killed in her own home in March. “[Breonna Taylor] did everything correctly,” Kamara said. “She was a paramedic, she went to school, she was a good woman. She didn’t break no laws, she didn’t do nothing wrong to nobody and she was still killed in her bedroom.”
Gray also described the $12 million settlement awarded to Taylor’s family. “Yes, it’s different from a lot of what’s happened in the past, but I don’t want that to cloud the fact that a human life was lost,” she said.
The panelists added on to this discussion, describing how this settlement would not have been likely had it not been for the many demonstrations of outrage, specifically actions and movements started and led by Black women.
Hamilton remarked on how Black women’s struggles have historically been met with silence and inaction. “It just feels like people are screaming, and we are screaming, and even Breonna Taylor is screaming. And just, how much more can we scream until someone hears you?” she said. “It just feels like we’ve been screaming for eternity.”
The second panel in the Say Our Names series, which will also focus on misogynoir, is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. This panel will feature Black female members of the College’s faculty and staff.