N.C. Central University’s Women and Gender Faculty Speaker Series marked Women’s History Month 2023 with two days of speakers addressing a variety of topics related to racism and women’s issues. On March 22 the series featured Gabriel Cruz, assistant professor in mass communications, associate professor Lydia Lindsey, assistant professor of criminal justice Asha Ralph, and mass communications professor Shauntae White.
According to womenshistorymonth.org, Women’s History Month began as a national holiday in 1981, when Congress requested President Reagen to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.”
Over the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” L. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress issued resolutions seeking and enabling the President to proclaim March as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, presidents have made a series of proclamations declaring March to be “Women’s History Month.”
Women’s History Month has evolved into both a celebration of the achievements of women and a time to recognize and address the ongoing struggles and inequalities still faced by women.
Gabriel Cruz examined racism, racial tourism, and anti-blackness as manifested in the Disney Zombie trilogy films.
“The idea of zombies comes from Haitian culture and mythology as an animated corpse,” Cruz said.
In his PowerPoint presentation Cruz noted that the zombies in the films have a language that is incomprehensible to non-zombies, are rhythmic and music-oriented, and physically strongest, faster, and more violent that non-zombies. All this, he argued, is to stereotypes Black people.
In “White tears; The Invisibility of Missing Black Women and Girls,” Asha Ralph contrasted the way the media and law enforcement handle missing cases of white and Black women. There were about 260,000 missing women and 100,000 of them were Black, according to Ralph. “There is an overabundance of coverage that mainstream media outlets dedicate to missing person cases of white women and a correlating lack of coverage of missing women of color,” said Ralph.
In “Put Your Back In It: Trap Cardio as a Form of Women’s Empowerment,” Shauntae White, examined how the dance exercise routine, created by Ashley Redwood, combines weight training and cardio with hip hop, Afrobeat, and Caribbean music. All the while asserting that women should be comfortable, proud even, of their various body types. Redwood quit her job with the federal government to promote Trap Cardio. The routine now has 100,000 subscribers. White said she first got interested in Trap Cardio during the Covid shutdown.
In another presentation, using Megan Markle Lydia Lindsey explored the complexity of racial identity in Britain and the British Commonwealth. Markle, a princess by marriage into the Royal Family, has a Black father and a white mother. She was born in Los Angeles. Linsdey explorers what it means to the country to have its first Black princess, who first identified as bi-racial, not Black. Then, after experiencing racism began to identify as Black.
“Yes, she has experienced racial prejudice. However, she did not have the same experience as other Black people,” Lindsey said.
The Women and Gender Studies’ program was introduced in Fall 2016. N.C. Central University is the first HBCU in North Carolina to offer this program.