Groups celebrate diversity

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“Black Girls Rise,” a forum co-hosted by the UA Feminist Caucus and the National Council of Negro Women, highlighted issues black women face in their daily lives that may not always be brought to light. Submitted

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Some 60 students, graduates and faculty gathered Tuesday to tackle the issue 
of diversity.

“Black Girls Rise,” a forum co-hosted by the UA Feminist Caucus and the National Council of Negro Women, featured a panel of five who shared their experiences as women of color in a predominately 
white institution.

The panel included Jennifer Jones, assistant professor in the department of gender and race studies and American studies; Khortlan Patterson of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Shambria Davis, Miss Stillman 2014-2015; Cassander Smith, assistant professor in the English department; and Bria Harper, a graduate student in the department of gender and race studies.

The forum highlighted issues black women face in their daily lives that may not always be brought to light.

“I think it’s essential that we’re having these types of conversations openly,” said Cassidy Ellis, coordinator of UA Feminist Caucus. “As we continue to do this, more people will open up and join the 
conversation, no matter their race.”

Elliot Spillers, a junior majoring in business management, said he found comfort in the forum in light of the controversial nature of the discussion.

“As a black man, I found [Black Girls Rise] to be very empowering and eye opening,” Spillers said. “The voices of black women are often silenced, and it was nice to hear some of the issues they face are similar to the issues I face as well.”

Bria Harper, one of the event’s panelists, said she is often told how to act and speak to avoid being stereotyped in certain ways.

“Often I am told I have to tailor my conversations with the students I interact with because I am perceived as being the ‘angry black woman,’” she said.