Panel to explore violence against women of color
The disparity between violence against marginalized women and the majority of people has been on Amrita Chakrabarti Myers’ mind for more than a year, and has become all the more timely in the recent political climate, she said.
The current political situation in the United States has pushed Myers to action.
“Violent Intersections: Women of Color in the Age of Trump,” is a panel and justice fair about violence toward women of color created by Myers, an IU professor of gender studies and history.
On Tuesday evening, panelists from gender studies, race, sexual assault and performance will gather in the Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union to discuss issues of sexual assault as they pertain to women of color during an era which Myers described as a “crisis”.
“I hope they will act as agents of change,” she said. “We are in a crisis. Things are happening every day to bring marginalized people into the crosshairs.”
Myers will moderate for the panel although she said she would much rather attend the event than be the host because she is so excited about how the event will come together.
Myers said she wanted to get influential people from both the Bloomington and IU communities involved. Panelists from Middle Way House, the IU Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the wider collegiate community will be in attendance.
“I want to show that campus and the community are interconnected,” Myers said. “We cannot let issues like this divide us.”
Asma Afsaruddin, IU professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, will provide information about Islamaphobia and violence against Muslim women.
Kali Gross, from Wesleyan University, will put the issues into perspective in a wider national collegiate community.
Evelyn Smith, Middle Way outreach coordinator, will provide details on crimes and services in the local Bloomington community.
“Especially at IU, there are so many people with all of these skills and abilities,” Myers said. “I thought, ‘Let’s give them a microphone. Let’s highlight them.’ We are a research university. So much work is being done. Let’s share it.”
Myers planned performances from two of IU’s award-winning performers. Nyama McCarthy-Brown will be performing a choreographed dance before the panel to tell a story Muslim women and the Islamic faith preceding the panel discussions, and Ross Gay will be presenting one of his original poems written for the event to transition from the panel to the justice fair across the hall in the University Club.
“I really hope people come out,” Myers said. “I hope they come and read the information, learn something from the panel and want to get engaged. I encourage everyone to come out. There are so many feeling vulnerable and need to see our support. We are hoping to make a safer place for everyone.”
Myers said she has seen a rise in hate crimes against women of color and transgender women. Psychologist and co-founder of Open Door, a therapy center for gay men, Graciela Balestra said the average life expectancy of transgender people is 30-32 years. Myers said this is mostly due to the high number of transgender murder victims.
"We do not think this type of violence happens here, but it does,” Myers said.
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