Experiencing Magic in Summer16

Every once in awhile I am blessed to experience magical moments. This summer I am grateful to have experienced three of those moments so far.

When Yas text me about an event, Art & Social Justice on Broadway, I was sold at the title. I am generally interested in these topics, so I needed very little convincing. Arriving to see that this event was actually a conversation between living legends – Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, and Ta-Nehisi Coates – was an added perk not adequately captured in the event description.

The knowledge they dropped, the memories recalled, the casual way in which they shared stories of dealing with other contemporary greats and legends who have passed on, and the unwavering passion for their crafts and admiration for each other were almost too much to take in. Each described their passion for social justice, and what drives them to keep at their craft. Just watching their exchange I could sense this moment was special, and was so inspired.

A couple of weeks later I attended a Wellesley alumnae event featuring Desiree Rogers. Her advice to the audience on embracing your strengths and contributions to the workplace, being a ‘change agent,’ and assessing future opportunities resonated so strongly. It is always humbling to be in the company of my accomplished Wellesley siblings, but it speaks volumes to be in a room full of amazing women who are all still in awe of the woman in front of us. It felt like an honor to be there, even though I had to do nothing more than RSVP to attend. That is magic.

The magic of Summer16 even spilled over into conference season for sociology. After leaving my discipline’s annual conference last year I was angry at the invisibility of black issues and the movement for racial justice and liberation. This year, the discipline has come a long way by including voices of non-sociologists and activists in the conversation. The Protesting Racism plenary included panelists such as Charlene Carruthers and Mariame Kaba, but I was blown away by the OG intersectionalist Kimberlé Crenshaw herself. As a part of Crenshaw’s powerful talk, she screened #SayHerName, a short video lifting up the stories of women who were victims of police violence. Both an eye-opener and a tear-jerker, the film ended with the audience calling out the names of these women. After push-back from a white, European sociologist in the audience about sociology being a critical discipline and therefore not activism, Aldon Morris strongly proclaimed that, “Sociology is and ought to be an emancipatory project.” There was a sense of magic in the air, the power of solidarity, that I had never experienced at a presidential plenary.

It is not everyday that magic happens, but Summer16 seems to be full of these moments. I am thankful to have witnessed them.

by: Portia Allen-Kyle
#whyracestillmatters

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