By: Felicia Salinas-Moniz, Senior Assistant Director at the Sarah Doyle Center
Thank you to everyone who participated in our first feminist crossword puzzle challenge this year! Congratulations to the first 5 students who completed the puzzle correctly and won a “Radical Roots: Nourishing Feminist Work” tote bag prize filled with feminist swag.
Jose Celaya-Alcala Sumera Subzwari Juliana Katz Katherine Clark Olivia Howe
We had almost 50 people submit answers to this crossword puzzle challenge, so we’ve decided to release another crossword puzzle challenge in late-October. Stay tuned to the Radical Roots blog for when it goes live.
Our first crossword puzzle of the fall term is still online for those who haven’t had a chance to work on it yet. There is a node you can toggle called “show errors,” which will check your answers for accuracy. Additionally, the answer key can be found here when you’re finished and want to verify your answers.
If you were one of the students who submitted answers to the puzzle, we’d love to hear from you! Were there any questions, in particular, that stumped you? Did you learn something new about feminist history that you didn’t know? Please comment on this entry and share with us!
By: Amanda Knox, Assistant Archivist at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women
Dispatching from an unusually cluttered dining room in Attleboro, MA
When the Pembroke Center Oral History Project began in 1982 it was a way for women to ensure their stories would become and remain part of Brown University’s historical record. At that time, oral histories were largely discredited as scholarly sources. For the most part, anybody can “do” oral history; you really only need a recording device and someone willing to share their story. It was radical for the alumnae to believe their stories were valuable. It was radical for the Pembroke Center Archives and the Brown University Libraries to add those stories to the collections and make them available for research. It was radical for the Pembroke Center to change the name of the project, formerly known as Brown Women Speak, in order to be more inclusive and steward stories from trans and non-binary members of the community. Today, it feels radical to continue our oral history work through the COVID-19 global pandemic and fight for racial justice.
To date, Mary Murphy, the Nancy L. Buc ’65 Pembroke Center Archivist, and I have collected over 40 interviews with students, staff, faculty, and alums, who have wanted to talk specifically about their experiences with the pandemic and subsequently about their experiences at the recent protests against racism and police violence. Over thirty of these interviews are currently on the Pembroke Center Oral History website, including interviews from Soyoon Kim ’19, Virginia Thomas ’20, and Sara Matthiesen ’15, all of whom have connections to the Sarah Doyle Center.
Soyoon thoughtfully discussed her work as a Program Coordinator for the Global Brown Center for International Students. She recalled a panel of health experts who initially were not concerned about the virus spreading out of Wuhan and she also recounted assisting international students with their transitions off campus. At the end of her interview, Soyoon said, “I myself, Soyoon Kim, feel very lucky and privileged and so grateful for the support, the network of support that I have at Brown, in my physical vicinity with my housemates, with my partner, and with family back home.” After her interview, I was left with these words and the reminder to recognize and appreciate the outstanding community I am also privileged to have.
To that end, Virginia Thomas addressed concerns about the trajectory of higher education and the strength and resilience of the students in her “Queering Oral History” course. We had a wonderful conversation about interviewer-interviewee dynamics, the ways in which socially distanced interviews can impact the story an interviewee shares, and the power of capturing LGBTQ history through individuals’ stories. When I asked her what she would want listeners to know tomorrow and 50 years from now, she said she wants them to know they’re not alone. Members of the LGBTQ+ community can often feel alone and isolated on the best of days. Under today’s circumstances, these feelings can be and are exacerbated. Virginia reminded me to think beyond myself and my own feelings, to reach out to friends and those acquaintances who were about to be friends before we all had to part, in order to do my part to reduce suffering.
Additionally, Sara spoke about her experiences as a professor and as an activist during this time. She commented on protests she participated in, media coverage of the pandemic, states’ legislation on access to reproductive healthcare, and rights and resources for essential workers. She emphasized that “every political effort and social movement was fighting for a thing that seemed impossible until it wasn’t.” This is another statement I have not been able to forget since interviewing Sara at the beginning of May. Making it through this pandemic may seem impossible, but one day it will just be something that we all did. At one point, it seemed impossible for oral histories, particularly those from women, trans, and non-binary people, to be recognized as legitimate records. Today it is my charge to actively collect them and make them available, in part because they are in such high demand.
Over the course of my time at the Pembroke Center I have listened to well over 200 interviews. Many, like Soyoon’s, Virginia’s, and Sara’s, have left a lasting impact on my heart and my mind. My hope is that you, too, will listen to these stories from members of your community, find inspiration from them, and know that your use of them is a radical act.
By: Felicia Salinas-Moniz, Senior Assistant Director at the Sarah Doyle Center
With fall semester upon us and asynchronous community building still at the fore, the Sarah Doyle Center is opening our Fall term with another crossword puzzle challenge! Test your knowledge of feminist history and see how many questions you can answer without doing a search online. But online searches are okay when you come across questions that you don’t know. When that happens, take a moment to explore more about the answer you find — you’ll likely come up with further questions and queries for research!
We invite anyone to participate. However, prizes are only open to Brown University students at this time. The first 5 Brown students who correctly solve the puzzle will win a “Radical Roots: Nourishing Feminist Work” tote bag filled with the following: a copy of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Daily Undated Passion Planner (with planner stickers), a set of colorful gel pens, and some Sarah Doyle Center pens. The names of the 5 winners, along with the crossword puzzle answer key, will be posted on the Radical Roots blog at the end of the 2-week quiet period on 9/15. The Sarah Doyle Center will mail prizes to the select 5 winners of this puzzle.
Special thanks to the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women for co-sponsoring this crossword puzzle challenge. Mary Murphy and Amanda Knox, archivists at Pembroke, contributed the questions specific to gender history at Brown. HINT: You may need to listen to a few Brown alumnae oral histories to answer some of the puzzle questions. We’d also like to give a special shout out to Amy Chin and Shanelle Haile, our fabulous SDC graduate student coordinators, for contributing questions to this puzzle, too.
When you are finished, click the “Submit Answers” button on the left (or the triangle on the left, if using a mobile device) and enter your name and Brown email address. The puzzle is best visible on a computer. (NOTE: you do NOT need to create an account on the crossword puzzle site to play).
By: Jordan Allums ’21, Sarah Doyle Center Co-Curricular Development Summer Intern and senior studying Political Science
Point Richmond, CA
My name is Jordan Allums and I am a senior at Brown studying political science. This summer, I worked with the Sarah Doyle Center as the Co-Curricular Development intern to curate a list of resources to serve their programming around gender and feminism. I did this work in tandem with Elon and Ope, the two Digital Communications interns, and drew a lot of inspiration from their themed social media content. At the beginning of the internship, I planned to focus on Black feminist theory, but as I got deeper into my research I felt a need to highlight a diversity of topics to address some urgent needs I observed in our current moment. Namely, I decided to focus on self-care, affirming trans women, and uplifting dark-skinned Black women. These nuanced approaches to my work allowed me to expand this list beyond simply defining or diagnosing certain issues, but rather deconstruct and reframe the ways we understand them. I envision this list being used to critically analyze mainstream feminism, note where it’s lacking, and hopefully present a better way forward.
I want to be transparent about my identity and how that may have influenced this list. I am a light-skinned, cis-heterosexual, middle-class, able-bodied Black woman. Being that I am discussing identities that I myself do not claim, I accept responsibility for any biases or holes in the content of this list that you might observe. These are not a sign of willful neglect, but rather my limited capacity to know and address all of the concerns of these communities. Moreover, the specification of trans women and dark-skinned Black women is not intended to ignore the myriad marginalized identities that exist. Rather, I felt that these communities were particularly in need of support in our current social climate. Trans women are frequently left in the shadows, only to be pushed into the media spotlight when they are brutalized. Dark-skinned Black women face disproportionate neglect and disrespect compared to their lighter-skinned counterparts. These two issues have been especially salient in the last couple of months as racial tensions around the world have exposed which narratives and lives are centered in the movement and which are left in the margins.
I also want to make a note about the intended audience of some of these resources. You may notice that just because an article or book is written about someone, it is not necessarily directed at them. Many, but not all, of these resources are meant to educate people outside of a certain community in order to foster greater empathy and understanding. For people who identify with those communities, the same resources may read as redundant or “preaching to the choir.” For those readers, I hope you find value in the other resources in this list or that it at least prompts you to look for outside resources that can help you better than I can.
Finally, this work was completed during a 4-week internship. Naturally, I had to set realistic expectations about what I could accomplish in such a short time. Therefore, I relied on reviews, recommendations, and summaries to vet whole books. I cannot give my stamp of approval on the entire contents of any given book, nor should readers assume that my judgment is objectively correct. Readers are instead strongly encouraged to engage their critical thinking skills while absorbing the information in these books. Please also note that this list is by no means exhaustive; it is a stepping stone in the life-long journey of educating oneself on these topics. On a similar note, this list is intentionally structured in a way to allow you to pace yourself and avoid content overload. Feel free to ease into the material with the web articles listed first, and then when you have the bandwidth you may do a deep dive into the topics using the full-length books listed afterwards.
By: Teresa Conchas ‘22, Sarah Doyle Center Student Program Coordinator
My antique dining room table in hot and sticky San Antonio, TX
Consuelo Jimenez Underwood is a bright soul who sings to the world with welcoming arms. In her early seventies, she beams with an optimistic and enthusiastic energy that is especially touching these days. Each time I experience the treasure of being in her presence, I notice a change in my body and mind — my shoulders relax and my words flow out with ease. Consuelo has a gift for opening, and it comes to her so naturally.
As many of you in our Sarah Doyle community may recall, Consuelo visited Brown this past fall on a week-long artist residency, during which she collaborated with a group of undergraduates to create Exposing Unseen Boundaries, the most recent installment in her “Borderlines” series. The exhibition showcased a combination of new and old works: the “Brown-Violet Borderline,” “Apocalyptic Rain Song,” a hand-woven barbed-wire basket and tapestry, and photographs documenting a performance along the borderlands. Her artwork reaches deeply into the dynamic political and ecological forces emerging from the U.S.-Mexico border, and sifts through these complex entanglements with bold strokes of color and texture.
I was fortunate to spend a couple hours chatting with her one afternoon in mid-April. Below you will find some personal reflections and meditations in response to our conversation together. Moreover, I had the opportunity to help out with elements of the Exposing Unseen Boundaries exhibition; included are images of the “power wand” I created (first photo) and the “soil blessings” I arranged (third photo) for its two main wall installations.
As a fellow textile artist myself, I am all too familiar with the labor-intensive and social distancing aspects that accompany the art-making process. And while I find comfort in the company of my needle and thread and the repetitive motions of embroidering in and out and weaving over and under, every now and then I feel as though asking us to commit our whole selves as artists to the work is too much of a demanding sacrifice — the piling hours of isolation and concentration can become unbearable at times. Thus, when I look upon Consuelo’s beautiful and intricate weavings and paintings, I am filled with wonder and appreciation in reverence to her ability to inhabit this liminal space, carving it out as a universe of her own and transforming it into one of truth, liberation, and imagination.
When I inquired into her experiences with solitude, she addressed it with a warmth reserved for old friends, referencing Emily Dickinson’s perspective on “solitude of space.” For her, this solitude of “a soul admitted to itself” is long-term, and she is intimately acquainted with its sacred possibility, urging us to presently “do something with it,” to share and create in it.
Her words on solitude particularly resonate with our moment, as we learn to navigate the difficult and lonely waters of our newly-imposed social guidelines. In our state of quarantine, how can we learn from solitude, find grounding in it, and most importantly, care for ourselves and our loved ones amidst it? I am convinced that art has a vital role in addressing these big questions, in helping us process and understand the new world we are confronted with. Art is healing and unifying, and we should embrace creative practices as a vessel for learning to live with ourselves and our thoughts during this period of remaking and adjustment. Though she is “sad that it’s happening so harshly,” if we have the time and energy, Consuelo asks us to pause and rest, to listen and reflect (inwardly and outwardly) in the silence of our solitude. It will be challenging — approach it with an abundance of patience and tenderness for yourself — but I am excited for the learning, discovering, and imagining that will come of it.
While this is a time engulfed in fear and uncertainty that has exacerbated division and inequality in previously unrecognized ways, Consuelo insists that we resist growing and expanding borders and boundaries — which can be a particularly troubling task when we are required to remain six feet apart. We concluded that borders have reached a new extreme, as we carry them with us on our own person now, “like you’re wearing them.” Several weeks later, this statement still haunts me, its implications becoming further real with each passing day.
However, rather than dwell in this fracturing, I am choosing to think about borders in the counter-context of inhabiting a shared world through strengthening ethics of connection and care and deepening meanings of community. Nowadays I find myself being more purposeful about acknowledging and cherishing living presences of all sorts — whether that’s greeting neighbors I hadn’t spoken to in years along my daily bike rides or tuning into the birds happily chirping from my front porch — gestures that had long gone neglected and taken for granted. Our restorative solitude has allowed us to “get to know ourselves in order to better understand others,” making our points of connection that much more intentional, enriching, and precious.
On Hope and Art Futures
Consuelo also emphasized our collective human resiliency, expressing that “we can sustain anything” while we firmly hold onto hope and resist the defeat of despair. Although we are enduring immense pain and devastation, she considers our current moment a call to shift and improve, for “when there’s chaos, it’s a time to change the world a little bit.” A profound structural change is long-due, and it is up to us to accountably fight for it — we owe this to ourselves and the loved ones we have lost. Equipped with a renewed vision of justice and the might to see it through, we will mend and repair the fabric of our humanity in radical ways.
She assures us that the arts aren’t going anywhere, and that their power to build consciousness and uplift communities is more important now than ever. Anticipating a return “back to the hand” and the rise of guerilla art activity in a public reclamation of art that is accessible and relevant, she views this as a positive reinstatement of the arts as being for and belonging to everyone, the “big empty gallery and museum spaces were getting to be too stuffy for their own good” anyway. And though the arts are the first to be cut from budgets, we will keep them alive and flourishing with our creative resourcefulness. So dream tremendously about the world you want to live in and then take part in actively creating it with your pen, brush, guitar, voice, body, etc.
Consuelo believes in the promise of young people with her whole heart and spirit. Her confidence in this next generation’s potentiality to sew the tears and scraps of our broken society together bestows dually upon us inspiration and commitment. We will continue to make movement, breathe, survive — and surely do good too.
For those who missed our series of events featuring artist Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, included are links to the artworks she created and the talk she gave while on campus in October:
By: Elisia Lopez, Junior studying Literary Arts and Anthropology, Special Projects Coordinator at the LGBTQ Center
Since coming back home, one of the ways I’ve been distracting myself from all this stress has been by playing video games. It wasn’t until pretty recently that I had actually started playing them semi-regularly. Before now, before I found a group of supportive friends who encouraged me to start gaming, it wasn’t really something I super felt comfortable doing or even something I was supposed to do. And, to be honest, a huge influence on my relationship with video games has been the fact that I’m not a dude.
Despite the fact that about half of self-identified gamers are women, there is still a lot of stigma around “gamer girls” and a general lack of confidence in women’s gaming abilities. And, while anyone should be able to enjoy a game without concern for how well they do or not, there is still a degree of discomfort when it comes to playing video games, especially if you’re not amazing at it, and even more so if you’re playing alongside or against people who are much more skilled than you.
One thing I’ve been realizing is that sometimes this discomfort is internal, sometimes it’s external.
I remember the first time I was ever introduced to Super Smash Bros, which is basically a culmination of every Nintendo character I didn’t know beating each other up…for some reason. I was probably around ten or so, and I was at a friend’s birthday party when they busted out the Wii. I had been pretty excited to learn how to play this new game that everyone swore up and down was so fun. When all the characters showed up on the screen and we finally got to play, I slowly went from being totally psyched to just bummed out. I remember asking how to play and just not having any of my questions answered. I was feeling tense and–for lack of a better word–shitty because I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t last more than a minute, so I eventually bailed.
And yeah, I know, we were ten. Around ten. I’m not trying to bash on what people did when we were kids because, you know, we were kids. But this is just one of the earlier instances of an ongoing pattern. The same thing happened when I first played Mario Kart. The same thing happened when my cousins tried to get me to play Assassin’s Creed. When this kind of thing keeps happening over and over and over, it becomes something that eventually stops you from wanting to play.
A lot of it had to do with people thinking I just couldn’t be good because I was a girl. Yeah, I wasn’t good, but that had nothing to do with my gender. I just wasn’t socialized to play video games, so I didn’t. It becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy, where girls can’t be gamers because that’s a “boy’s thing,” so girls aren’t really encouraged to game, then when they do of course they’re not as good at it. And sometimes, you start passing up on playing because you know you’re no good, or you don’t have the energy to get made fun of.
In my case, I just stayed away from playing video games entirely.
Of course, that’s not everyone’s experience. But I’ve been in enough friend groups where men patronize women about how badly they’re playing that they just decide to not even try and say they’re just okay with watching.
It wasn’t until college that I started to let myself play video games, despite how far I am from being good. Being someone who is into creative writing, a lot of the video games that appealed to me did so because of the way that they engage with stories and lore differently than books, movies, or TV, like running around in a fantasy world and defeating evil in Legend of Zelda, trying to figure out my way home from the Underground in Undertale, and just messing around in the futuristic world of Overwatch. And once I had gotten into them and understood the gameplay, I actually began to enjoy playing them–and get better at them, as practice tends to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get super nervous and self-conscious when I’m playing video games. Sometimes I get the overwhelming urge to stop because I don’t think I’m good enough. Sometimes I get so nervous about it that I try to preemptively explain away why I’m so bad. Sometimes I even stop playing something when someone else walks into the room. But that’s only sometimes.
Being able to game with non-cishet men and without dealing with weird gatekeeper gaming complexes has done a lot in teaching me that I am allowed to suck and still have fun at the same time. Right now I’ve logged an embarrassing amount of hours on Overwatch with my friend, and I’m able to laugh at myself when I mess up but also recognize how much better I’ve gotten at it. That’s something I wouldn’t have seen myself doing a couple of years ago.
It might not seem that deep because it’s honestly just video games. But the fact that I have been able to get to the point of enjoying something I hadn’t felt good enough to even try just because of my gender has got me feeling pretty great.
Footnote (some games, game designers, and gamers that subvert gendered expectations in video games)
Undertale – Features a protagonist who is referred to using they/them pronouns throughout the game. The game diverts from uber-violent expectations in video games and focuses on solving problems peacefully and with care.
Night in the Woods – Features a queer woman protagonist and explores her mental health and relationship with her hometown and her past.
Life Is Strange – A game that follows a lesbian in high school with time-altering powers. The game includes potentially triggering content.
Tell Me Why – The first video game from a major developer with a playable trans character, also voiced by a trans man. (I haven’t played this game, so I can’t speak to the quality of it)
Roberta Williams – A self-taught woman game designer who revolutionized graphic game design.
Anna Anthropy – A trans woman game designer who makes digital games, interactive fiction, and zines.
Aisha Tyler – A WoC gamer who is very vocal about sexism and racism within the gaming community.
Here’s a link to a list of trans game developers from 2018–check it out!
And here’s a link to another article with influential women in gaming.
Image credit: Sara Montoya ’21, Graphic Design and Publicity Coordinator at the LGBTQ Center
By Ciara Keegan ’20, Science Technology and Society Concentrator and Jennifer Katz ’20, Science Technology and Society Concentrator and Gender, Health, and Wellness Coordinator at the Sarah Doyle Center
Shortly before we had transferred to Brown, Ciara and I were connected by a mutual friend. I sat on the floor of the library while she spoke to me from her flat in Edinburgh. Almost immediately she brought up music and we started talking about our favorite artists and songs. It wouldn’t become as obvious until we coincidentally (fate?) were assigned as roommates during our first semester at Brown. My memories from that New Dorm double are deep shades of blue, red and purple lit by the whale shaped lamp on her bedside table with Lady Wray’s “Guilty,” Darondo’s “Didn’t I,” and Still Woozy’s “Goodie Bag” on a constant loop.
We started our radio show, “The Now and Then” the fall of our junior year and it quickly became the highlight of my week. On Sundays we would create the collaborative playlist, piling on songs until Wednesday came along, when we would debate over the layout of the final 50 minutes. We would send it to everyone, knowing that only a couple friends and our parents would tune in. It didn’t matter. And who knows, maybe someone driving in Providence had turned the knob to 101.1 WBRU at just the right moment to hear us fangirling over Hope Tala or Radiant Children. Even during the worst moments of our semester, we made the time to lug ourselves up staircase three to the BSR studio, pressing pause on the anxiety of college that filled every hour of every day, except 10-11 pm on Wednesday nights.
This past year we submitted to our busy-ness, living off of Wickenden we kept putting off walking all the way to campus for our show, always saying, “next week we’ll do it.” Until there were no more weeks left and we found ourselves packing up the belongings of her room before she flew to California for the foreseeable future. As I’ve put together these Rooted Radios each week, I’ve felt a strong pang of nostalgia for making these playlists together—a nostalgia that competes with regret as I mourn our senior year ending early.
We both admit to being poor communicators, FaceTime has become exceedingly laborious as every aspect of our days have been converted to digital means. We may never be able to have our radio show at Brown anymore, but one way I know we can always stay connected is through sharing music and collaborating on playlists.
By: Maurisa Li-A-Ping, Coordinator for First Year and Sophomore Programs at the Brown Center for Students of Color
Providence, Rhode Island
While quarantining and social distancing it feels like there are mirrors all around me. The ones you find in the circus, making tall things short, big things small, and oval things square. Everything feels filtered and contorted, even my body. So much is lost and gained in the illusion of shame. Some days I am a soaring acrobat, while others I am a clown walking the tightrope. In the blaring silence of quarantine, I turn to Lucille Clifton for resilience and comfort.
Last night while reading “homage to my hips” I wondered, did she wake up with the utmost reverence for her body? Was it gained over time? Did someone name those parts of her worthy? I am not sure of how but, I too want a body that is magical and mighty. It feels right to start with gratitude so each day I honor the joy and horror of living in my body.
What has she done for me today?
What has her terror taught me?
Where does love live within her?
I am not sure if you too feel you are being chased by mirrors. If your round has become triangular and your small has been turned big. However, I am sure of praise: the act of offering glory to one’s self as a form of survival. Do it with me: (as said by Lucille Clifton in her poem homage to my hips)