Organizers

Julia Jordan-Zachery
Director
is professor of Public and Community Service and Director of the Black Studies Program at Providence College (RI). Her interdisciplinary research focuses on African American women and public policy. Jordan- Zachery has authored a number and she is the author of the award winning book “Black women, cultural images and social policy” (2009 Routledge). "Shadow Bodies: Black Women, Ideology, Representation and Politics, her most recent book is forthcoming (Rutgers University Press. Her recent paper “Black Girlhood and “The Help”: Constructing Black Girlhood in a “Post” Racial, Gender, and Welfare State” was the 2013 winner of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists' Rodney Higgins Best Faculty Paper Award. Currently, Jordan-Zachery is working on a edited volume that explore the '#BlackGirlMagic". Additionally she is the co-editor, with Nikol Alexander-Floyd for a special issue of the National Political Science Review on Black women and politics. Jordan-Zachery strives to bring intersectionality to a wider audience via her blog—Sapphire Unbound. Sapphire Unbound explores the lived realities of Black women and seeks to challenge the invisibility of Black women in policy and politics. http://juliajordan-zachery.com.​
Kamille Gentles-Peart
Chair
is associate professor of Communication and Media Studies and chair of the Department of Communication and Graphic Design at Roger Williams University. She is an interdisciplinary cultural scholar, whose research agenda includes areas such as gender studies, media studies, Caribbean studies, postcolonial studies and black politics. Her research specifically focuses on Caribbean immigrant women in the U.S., exploring their experiences and identities in their new home. She has published several articles including "West Indian Women, Difference and Cultural Citizenship in the U.S.” and "'Fiwi TV:' Ethnic Media and the West Indian Diaspora”. She is also the author of the book chapters “West Indian Women, Body Politics and Cultural Citizenship" and “Barriers to Being Heard in a Majority Institution.” Her edited volume, titled "Re-Constructing Place and Space: Media, Power, and Identity in the Constitution of Caribbean Diasporas", was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Book Award from the African American Communication and Culture Division of the National Communication Association of the U.S. Her new monograph "Romance With Voluptuousness: Caribbean Women and Thick Bodies in the U.S.", was released in October 2016 by University of Nebraska Press.
Offering a unique vantage point from which to view black women’s body image and Caribbean migration, Romance with Voluptuousness illuminates how first- and second-generation immigrant black Caribbean women engage with a thick body aesthetic while living in the United States. Using personal accounts, Romance with Voluptuousness examines the ways in which black women with heritage in the English-speaking Caribbean participate in, perpetuate, and struggle with the voluptuous beauty standard of the black Caribbean while living in the hegemony of thinness cultivated in the United States. It highlights how black Caribbean women negotiate issues of body image deriving from both Caribbean and American pressures to maintain a particular body shape and contend with discourses and practices surrounding the body that aim to marginalize and exclude them from economic, social, and political spaces. By focusing on diasporic Caribbean women’s “romance” with voluptuousness, Kamille Gentles-Peart explores the transnational flow of beauty ideals and examines how ideas about beauty in the Caribbean diaspora help to shape the experiences of Caribbean black women in the United States.
Romance With Voluptuousness: Caribbean Women and Thick Bodies in the U.S.
Shamara Alhassan
Program Coordinator
is a fifth year doctoral candidate in the Africana Studies Department at Brown University. She earned a B.A. in Africana Studies and Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a M.S. Ed. in Childhood Education from Hunter College. As a recipient of the Fulbright, Pembroke, Watson, and Hiemark grants, she conducted multimedia ethnographic research with Rastafari women in Ghana and Jamaica over the past ten years. Her dissertation maps the intellectual herstories and activism of Rastafari women in Jamaica and Ghana. She is interested in the ways Rastafari women create transgeographic anti-oppressive communities through daily anti-colonial acts. She is particularly interested in thinking through ways that Rastafari women use spirituality and self-making to articulate new symbolic and material orders premised upon sovereignty and freedom even in the context of neocolonial/neoliberal deployments of white supremacy, anti-Black genocide, and gendered racism.
Maiyah Rivers
Digital Presence Coordinator
is a recent Brown University Graduate, receiving her Masters in Public Humanities and completing her fellowship at the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice (CSSJ). She now serves as the Manager of Programs and Outreach for the CSSJ, curating exhibits and developing programs and curriculum for high school students in the city of Providence. Recently she developed a curriculum, led workshops and accompanied students on a Civil Rights Trip throughout the south with 30 Baltimore high school students. Her new project, Uncovering the Institution: The American Dream, To Be Sold Not Told invites high school students to stay on campus for the week and examine the American Dream through the lens of the institution and institutionalized oppression. Giving students the opportunity to curate their own exhibit, youth will ultimately try to answer the question, what does the American Dream mean in the 21st century? She is also a magical care-free Black girl who loves doing Black things!
Emerald Ortiz
Logistics Coordinator
has maintained the reputation of being a resourceful, well-informed and adaptable Administrative professional over the past 16 years, the last ten of which have been spent at Providence College. Mrs. Ortiz provides impeccable administrative support to the Political Science department, Black Studies program and Public Administration program, working alongside the chair and directors to coordinate and execute departmental office development and event planning. Additionally, she has volunteered as support staff at a domestic violence shelter and hotline while taking undergrad courses. Originally from Massachusetts, Ortiz holds a B.A. in liberal arts as a Social Science major from Providence College. Following graduation, Mrs. Ortiz has become a recurring member of the Early Intervention Parent Panel that is held bi-annual at Rhode Island College as a Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN) parent panelist. One thing Mrs. Ortiz prides herself on is being a continuous learner and strives for opportunities to attend courses, workshops and trainings that support her being a more knowledgeable and productive member of society. The mother of 3 beautiful children and wife to an extremely involved and supportive husband, she is both mother and advocate of a child on the autism spectrum.​​ Her guilty pleasures include surrounding herself with good music and planning Disney World vacations.
Makeen Zachery
Social Media Coordinator
is a high school student who is passionate about social justice and imagines herself as a human rights lawyer in the future. Makeen serves as a teacher with Breakthrough Providence. You can follow her on Twitter at @blkgirlculture.