March 1, 2021
Dear NWSA Members,
It is in this moment, right here at the end of Black History Month and the dawning of Women's HerStory Month, that I think about Nana. She was a fierce warrior who was one of the first Black nurses in South Carolina; a survivor of Jim Crow racism who helped to integrate a private all-girls boarding school; a deaconess who wore hats like Zora and never suffered the fools like Ida; and, she was a dreamer who believed that if we kept fighting, then this ole' racist sexist classist white man's world would be reshaped by our hands. I thought about her last night after I read Sonia Sanchez's "Wounded in the House of a Friend," where she wrote:
I shall become a collector of me.
i Shall become a collector of me.
i shall BECOME a collector of me.
i shall become A COLLECTOR of me.
I SHALL BECOME A COLLECTOR OF ME.
I take her words as both a prayer and a charge for my work here at NWSA. I Shall become a collector of me, of us, of our stories, of our laughter, and of our tears. I shall Become a collector of all that we have to offer, all that we have done, and all that we will do. During this time, as the U.S. (and the world) begins to open back up and we start planning for our virtual fall conference, we stay committed to rebuilding our community and strengthening our network of feminist scholars, educators, and activists. We believe that the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA) is needed more now than ever. We have been here standing strong, being collectors of ourselves for 44 years, and we will continue to be here: to be a voice crying out in the wilderness for justice and equity; to be an advocate for those who need the strength of our organization behind them to support, uplift, and amplify their work; and, to be a lighthouse highlighting the way to a more just and verdant world.
In her paper "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action," Audre Lorde wrote that what is important must be spoken, made verbal, and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. We take her words seriously as we step into this unknown virtual space to create a conference that will have meaning and help us build community while allowing us to share our work. This is a brave new world, and as we work to radically transform the world from our Kitchen Tables amid COVID19 and the ongoing fight against white supremacy, we ask you to join us—come and present your papers, hang out for the happy hour, listen to our speakers. We ask that you meet us in this in-between space and help us survive this moment, and plan for a time when we can be together again.
As you may remember, our 2021 theme is "Kitchen Table Feminism: Changing the World & Building Community, One Conversation at a Time." So far this year, we have hosted monthly Kitchen Table Talks; worked in collaboration with the Black Women's Studies Association and with the director of Radium Girls and the director of Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100; offered free weekly yoga classes to our members; and, we have started planning our fall virtual conference. Please see the announcements below for our March events and plans for the 2021 conference.
Bending toward social justice,
Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.
NWSA President, 2020-22