Ypsi symposium to encourage women of color to redefine their stories

The theme for Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) third Women of Color Feminisms and Leadership Symposium is "Untold Stories: Redefining Our Truth as Women of Color." The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10 at EMU’s Student Center Ballroom A, 900 Oakwood St. in Ypsilanti.


"(Organizers) had this conversation about how we have encountered men or white folks trying to convince us or create some version of our truth," says Bre McKamie, coordinator of EMU's Center of Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and one of the organizers of the symposium. "We recognized how detrimental, psychologically, emotionally, and physically, that is and how important it is to get to the point where we can empower ourselves and tell our own story."


McKamie says the symposium came about when CORE members and faculty from EMU's Women's Resources Center and Women and Gender Studies Department realized they were duplicating efforts with similar events each spring and decided to join forces.


This year's symposium will start off with socializing and food. The keynote speaker is EMU alum Courtney Smith, who founded the Detroit Phoenix Center, a drop-in space for youth experiencing homelessness. After that will be a performance by Nia and Ness.


"They are a black lesbian couple based in New York, and they do a performance that's a combination of dance and poetry," McKamie says. "They talk about what it looks like to be in love in New York City."


After that, participants will go to breakout sessions for the rest of the afternoon. McKamie says many breakout session presenters will be speaking about their own personal stories, but each was asked to research and consider data on how each issue discussed impacts other women of color. Topics will include "respectability politics" and the importance of women writers from Africa.


Last year's symposium attracted about 100 attendees, and McKamie says organizers are anticipating between 125 and 150 women to attend this year.


More information about the symposium is available at the Facebook event page or at Eventbrite.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of CORE.