As a marginalized and minority group on campus, women of color at University of California, Santa Barbara are planning on “reclaiming the margins.” They plan to create a safe space for dialogue and empowerment by holding a “Womyn of Color Conference” to discuss the various issues and obstacles women face.
The daylong conference, hosted by Associated Students’ Womyn’s Commission, will be held on Saturday, June 1, at Corwin Pavilion. It is free and open to all students.
“The reason we have really pushed for this conference this year and think it is important is because there are not a lot of spaces for women of color on campus to get together and talk about the specific issues that we, as women of color, face,” said Mariam Agazaryan, co-chair of Womyn’s Commission. “We are hoping this conference can be that much needed space.”
The conference will include several women of color guest speakers, such as UCSB feminist studies professor Grace Chang and sociology professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani, as well as women’s rights advocate and former president of the Ogala Sioux tribe, Cecelia Fire Thunder.
“It’s really important that people come out and learn about these issues and talk about them because, really, no one talks about it. It’s the same few people who are usually having these discussions, unfortunately. This is a chance for all students to come together in solidarity and learn something new, develop skills, and get involved with these important issues.”
Some of the issues that will be brought up include issues of awareness, identity, representation, and empowerment.
“Through this conference, I hope there will be acknowledgement of the women of color on this campus. We want to show our presence on this campus. We want to validate our experiences on this campus,” said Agazaryan. “We want to show everyone that we are here and we are not going anywhere, even through all the budget cuts, the administration trying to ignore us, and the lack of women of color staff at this campus.”
At the end of the conference, the organizers plan to have everyone work together to compile and create a list of demands that women of color at UCSB have for the administration, such as demands that more women of color be hired to be on staff.
To register to attend the conference, visit: tinyurl.com/ucsbwocc2013.