In partnership with Women, Action, and the Media (WAM!), I'm hosting a virtual panel that features the perspectives of LGBTQ African Diaspora on African culture, queer identity, and the media. The focus of the panel will in part be driven by pre-submitted questions from listeners, but will also aim to highlight the panelists' experiences with various kinds of activism, including the use of new media to promote awareness and social justice issues surrounding Queer Africa. I couldn't be more excited (and nervous!) about collaborating with WAM! (to whom I owe much of my passion and enthusiasm for advocating for the increased role and influence of women in the media), and for the opportunity to share stories and reflections with my fellow queer African friends and colleagues.
I've called the event "Kitchen Table Conversations" because I've found that I've experience the most thought-provoking, enlightening, and inspiring conversations, literally, at my kitchen table... or in my living room, on the train, at the back seat of a cab. Too often, right after a juicy pow wow with friends who are also African, queer, women of color etc., during which each of us weigh in on whatever issue it is -- dating, family, politics, white people, westerners, "political correctness" and the like -- by making a podium of the stove, delivering truths with the nonchalance of throwing salt into stew, and thickening our accents for dramatic emphasis, I've slammed my fist on my wooden kitchen table in frustration, shocking everyone with an American, "Dang! I should've recorded this."
The Kitchen Table Conversations happen so frequently, that now my friends and I actually joke about doing just that --- recording ourselves over dinner -- before we begin; it's become somewhat of an adventure to see what political insights we may discover before our eventual end-of-dinner gamble with wine (which we've found can either fuel or extinguish the uncensored passion we all carry underneath; the burden of having to feign resilience or resolve is washed away). I live for these moments, when our eagerness to speak and be affirmed causes us to interrupt each other, constantly, so that we share the experience of telling and shaping one story, our feet planted comfortably into soil. I wish I could share this with the world.
I doubt that a facilitated e-panel without food, wine, or in-person comraderie will serve to recreate the Kitchen Table Conversations that I've come to look forward to during almost every half-potluck (some cooking must take place before hearts bleed). But I do wonder what would happen if people could actually listen in to us at our most vulnerable, most desperate. I wonder what people would do if we dared say what we say over jollof rice, fried plantains, pepper soup, and egwusi... if we let loose the rawness we've been trained to sugar coat as tokenized peoples at podiums in western conferences.
In any case, it's Women's History Month, which makes this panel featuring Queer African voices -- and this on-going series (yes, I intend to keep hosting conversations like this) -- even more important. Despite a variety of forums and media honoring women this month, queer African women (past and present) aren't being celebrated for their work and their bravery. But whose fault is that? Mainstream media's? Psssh. I gave up on that a long time ago. In fact, I'm grateful for the lack of coverage I see, and thus, the motivation to continue encouraging queer African women and trans people everywhere to continue making waves, making media, and making trouble.
So mark your calendars for Wednesday March 23rd (12PM-1PM EST), and stay tuned for more from the Kitchen Table Conversations series. It's going to be fun!
Kitchen Table Conversations: LGBT African Diaspora Speak on Culture, Queerness, and New Media Spectra, the sassy host and moderator of this panel, is an award-winning queer Nigerian writer and women's activist. She is the founding director of Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston), a nationally recognized grassroots organization serving the needs of LGBTQ people of African descent and allies in New England, and the director of QWOC Week, New England's first pride festival exclusively intended to raise awareness of health and social justice issues impacting queer/trans communities of color. She is the owner of Spectra Events, a socially-conscious event planning and production company that brings together her eclectic interests in Art and Music, Social Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Philanthropy, and routinely blogs about all things women, leadership, politics, and Africa.
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