Dr. Keshia Abraham is an International Education practitioner and African diaspora scholar advancing global learning through justice and equity with dignity and intention. Prior to starting Abraham Consulting Agency, she was the Senior Director for Diversity and Inclusion at CIEE (Council for Independent Education Exchange)
where she was responsible for developing, directing and co-facilitating the Frederick Douglass Global Scholars program, managing Project Passport which supported the internationalization of select MSI institutions, and providing leadership and direction for creating an inclusive global learning environment. A recipient of multiple academic awards including two Fulbright fellowships, Keshia has studied, taught, facilitated workshops and conducted research in over 40 countries cultivating access, belonging and understanding in global learning. As an academic leader, Keshia has most recently served as associate professor, department chair, academic Dean and Director of International Education at Florida Memorial University. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Deering Estate.
Opal Palmer Adisa
Opal Palmer Adisa, Gender Specialist, Cultural Activist and Writer, is the Former University Director of The Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies. Adisa believes that literature and the performance arts are the best
approaches to interrogate gender inequality and formulate an approach to gender justice. A feminist/activist for four decades, Adisa has published 20 collections, that includes, essays, novels, short stories, poetry collections and children’s books. Her areas of focus are gender-based violence and ending child sexual and physical abuse. Her essays, stories, poems and articles have been anthologized in over 400 publications. She has just completed the authorized children’s biography of Portia Simpson Miller, entitled Portia Dreams, Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, and is the editor of 100+ Voices For Miss Lou: Poetry, Tribute, Interviews & Essays, The UWI Press, 2021.
Mackenzie Berry is from Louisville, Kentucky. Her debut poetry collection Slack Tongue City is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in April 2022. Her poetry has been published in Vinyl, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Hobart, and Blood Orange Review,
among others. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the First Wave Program and Goldsmiths, University of London, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Cornell University. You can find her work at mackenzieberry.com.
Amaris brings together black feminist thought, visual studies, black disability studies, and psychoanalysis to examine the interrelation between social desirability and political disposability in African Diasporic literary and visual culture. She experiments within the narrative challenges and possibilities posed at the
intersection of intimacy and expendability through methods that are critical, creative, and somatic. She is a doctoral candidate in the the department of Africana Studies at Cornell University and has been awarded fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Whitney Independent Study.
Dr. Marsha Jean-Charles is a Haitian-American scholar-organizer who studies Black women's transnational and diasporic literature, social justice movements, and abolitionist pedagogy. She centers race and class equity as well as immigrant and gender justice in
her knowledge facilitation and sociopolitical movement-building efforts. Inspired by the cosmologies and revolutionary politics catalyzed by marginality, decolonial migration, disenfranchisement, and demosprudence, Marsha works to help youth and community liberate themselves. Marsha believes in culturally responsive education, abolishing the carceral state, divesting from punishment culture, and investing in marginalized peoples and communities.
Marcia Douglas, Ph.D. is the author of novels, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread, Madam Fate and Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells as well as a poetry collection, Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom. Her awards include a 2020 Creative Capital Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a U.K. Poetry Book
Society Recommendation. The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: a Novel in Bass Riddim was long-listed for the 2016 Republic of Consciousness Prize and the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Professor Douglas teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
A passionate and dynamic instructor with over 20 years of experience in higher education, Meredith M. Gadsby (she, her, hers) is Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. Dr. Gadsby is also Special Assistant to the President
for Racial Equity and Diversity at Oberlin, serving as co-chair of the Commission of the Presidential Initiative for Racial Equity and Diversity. She is the author of the forthcoming Flying Forward: Caribbean Women Writing Fabulist and Speculative Fiction, and Sucking Salt: Caribbean Women Writers, Migration, and Survival, (U of Missouri, 2006) as well as a co-edited volume, Decolonizing the Academy (Africa World Press 2003). Her recent digital scholarship includes “Selective Compassion: The US Approach to Haitians Hasn’t Changed in Hundreds of Years” coauthored with Shelley Lee and Gina Perez, and expert contribution to “Here’s Why Juneteenth Matters,” a feature article for Essence Magazine’s special online issue.
Thomas Glave is the author of Whose Song? and Other Stories, Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (Lambda Literary Award winner), The Torturer’s Wife (Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist), and Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh. He is editor of the anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian
and Gay Writing from the Antilles (Lambda Literary Award winner), and an associate editor of Wasafiri. He has been Martin Luther King Jr Visiting Professor at MIT, a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Warwick, and writer-in-residence at the University of Liverpool's Centre for New and International Writing. Glave is Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool, and a 2022 Fulbright Scholar at the University of Nottingham.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all life. She is/they are the author of four books: Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (2017), M Archive: After the End of the World (2018), DUB: Finding Ceremony (2020), and
Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (2020). Gumbs also co-edited the volume Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016). She is also the co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Trust, an intergenerational experiential living library of Black LBGTQ brilliance.Unlike most academic texts, Alexis’s work has inspired artists across form to create dance works, installation work, paintings, processionals, divination practices, operas, quilts and more.
Jasmine Jay is a sister-poet and joy warrior living in Ithaca, NY. A graduate of Cornell University’s M.F.A. program in Creative Writing, she has been affiliated with and done work on behalf of numerous community projects in Ithaca, including Black Girl Alchemist and the Southside Community Center Mosaic. With PhD panelists
Shacoya Kidwell and Jessica Diaz Rodriguez, she is working to co-curate The Rememory Library project, a multi-media digital platform meant to foster co-learning around cross-generational Black and Brown diasporic narratives. She is at work on her debut collection of poetry, Butt Magic!, which wails at the intersection of Black slapstick and intergenerational trauma, and which will make its way into the world any day now (any day). At Cornell’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Program, she triages counseling patients. She is something, and hopes you think that you’re something too.
Katherine McKittrick is Professor of Gender Studies at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies. She authored Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), and she edited and
contributed to Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (Duke University Press2015). Her most recent monograph, Dear Science and Other Stories (Duke University Press, 2021) is an exploration of black methodologies.
Chanté Morris is a first-year Ph.D. student at Cornell University in the Department of Literatures in English from Bronx, NY. She received her bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College in English and Africana Studies, where she was a MMUF scholar. Her research is interested in Black women writers and representations of Black women
in literature and beyond.
Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire
Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire is an academic, activist, lawyer, organiser, publisher, and writer. His research covers African (Indigenous) Studies, Black (Diaspora) Studies, Cultural Studies, Law and Literature, Literary Activism, 20th & 21st century Literatures, and Political Economy
in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University. He co-founded the Center for African Cultural Excellence which curates the Writivism Literary Initiative, the Arts Managers and Literary Activists (AMLA) Network, the Ubuntu Reading Group and Nyanja Football Club. His work has been published in Chimurenga Chronic, African Roar, Saraba, African Arguments, Africa is a Country, Africa in Words, This is Africa, New Black Magazine, The Johannesburg Review of Books, Music and Literature, among other places.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985, East Palo Alto, CA) is an artist, writer, and former public school social studies teacher. A 2006 Amy Biehl U.S. Fulbright Scholar to South Africa, Rasheed holds an Ed.M (2008) in Secondary Education from Stanford University
as well as a BA (2006) in Public Policy and Africana Studies from Pomona College. Her work has been reviewed and written about in The New York Times, Art 21, Wall Street Journal, ArtSlant, and Hyperallergic. She has exhibited her work at Studio Museum in Harlem, Bronx Museum, Queens Museum, BRIC Art Gallery, Weeksville Heritage Museum, Smack Mellon Gallery, Vox Populi Gallery, TOPAZ Arts, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The Leroy Neiman Gallery among many others. Rasheed is the author of three artist’s books: An Alphabetical Accumulation of Approximate Observations (Endless Editions, 2019), No New Theories (Printed Matter, 2019), and the digital publication Scoring the Stacks (Brooklyn Public Library, 2021). Her writing, including longform essays and interviews, has appeared in Triple Canopy, The New Inquiry, Shift Space, Active Cultures, and The Believer. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts and a 2022 Creative Capital Awardee.
Jessica Diaz Rodriguez
Jessica Diaz Rodriguez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University where she studies Contemporary African Diaspora literatures at the intersections of migration, citizenship, debt, spirituality, and the erotic.
Jessica is also the Co-Founder of The Rememory Library, an on-going community engagement and digital humanities project that challenges state censorship of Black history and literature in classrooms by making Africana materials publically accessible to teachers and students around the country.
Minna Salami is a Nigerian-Finnish and Swedish author and social critic who grew up in Lagos and has lived in Sweden, New York and London. She studied Political Science at the University of Lund in Sweden, and then Gender Studies at SOAS, University of London where she was awarded a distinction for her specialization in African feminist
theory. In 2010 she launched her multiple award-winning blog MsAfropolitan which has drawn over a million readers. Her debut book SENSUOUS KNOWLEDGE (Bloomsbury/Zed, UK) and (Harper Collins/Amistad, US) has been translated into multiple languages. She is a frequently sought essayist and her bylines include the Guardian, CNN, Independent, Al Jazeera, World Literature Now and the Royal Society of the Arts. As a keynote speaker and lecturer, Minna has spoken at over 300 universities, cultural events, and conferences, on five continents including at some of the world’s most prominent institutions such as the Oxford Union, Yale University, and the Singularity University at NASA. Minna has consulted governments on feminism and gender equality, and she sits on the boards of The African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University, The Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Sahel, and the Emerge network.
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Ph.D., is the author of the short story collection, Blue Talk and Love, and winner of the 2018 Judith Markowitz Award for LGBTQ Writers, and The Poetics of Difference: Queer Feminist Forms in the African Diaspora (University
of Illinois Press, 2021), which explores the politics of experiment in global Black feminist art, literature, and hip-hop. In her creative and scholarly work, she considers the links between language, imagination, and bodily life in Black queer and feminist experience. Her stories and essays have appeared in Best New Writing, The Kenyon Review, Callaloo, Feminist Studies, American Fiction, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, TriQuarterly, GLQ: Lesbian and Gay Studies Quarterly, American Literary History, The Scholar and Feminist, American Quarterly, Public Books, Ebony.com, TheRoot.com, BET.com, and others. She has earned support and honors from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Center for Fiction, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University. Her novel, Big Girl, will be published by W.W. Norton/Liveright this summer.
Lyrae Van Clief-
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a finalist for the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Prize, and Black Swan, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is currently at work on her third poetry collection and a collection of essays. She has
been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem, the Lannan Foundation, and Civitella Ranieri. A member of The Cherry Arts collective, she has written lyrics and plays and her work has been featured at National Theatre London. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, was born in Kenya, in 1938 into a large peasant family. He was educated at Kamandura, Manguu and Kinyogori primary schools; Alliance High School, all in Kenya; Makerere University College (then a campus
of London University), Kampala, Uganda; and the University of Leeds, Britain. List of works include Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir (2018), Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Memoir of a Writer’s Awakening (2016), Secure the Base (2016), In the Name of the Mother: Reflections on Writers and Empire (2013), In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir (2012), Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing (2012), Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir (2010), Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance, (2009), Wizard of the Crow (2006), Mũrogi wa Kagogo (Wizard of the Crow) , and others.
Kendall Witaszek is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies at Queen’s University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota and an MA from Queen's University. Her most recent academic article was published in the journal American Quarterly. Her research centers themes of relationality,
methodology, interdisciplinarity, archives, creative texts, and the work of Sylvia Wynter.
Gerard Aching is professor of Africana and Romance Studies. He specializes in 19th- and 20th-century Caribbean literatures and intellectual histories, theories of modernism and modernity in Latin America, and the relation of literature, philosophy, and slavery in the Caribbean. He is the author of The Politics of Spanish American
Modernismo: By Exquisite Design (Cambridge, 1997), Masking and Power: Carnival and Popular Culture in the Caribbean (Minnesota, 2002), and Freedom from Liberation: Slavery, Sentiment, and Literature in Cuba (Indiana, 2015). Aching’s current research and teaching focus on subjectivity in slave narratives, slavery and philosophy, sugar production in the development of the modern transatlantic world, processes of gendered racialization in the Plantationocene, and the Underground Railroad. His collaborative Underground Railroad Research Project, which entails field work and community engagement in Central and Western New York, informs his new book project, The Promise of Rebirth: A Contemporary Approach to the Underground Railroad. Professor Aching has been the recipient of a Howard Foundation Fellowship (1999) and a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2003). He is co-principal investigator of the Rural Humanities Initiative (2019-2023), which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is a 2021 recipient of the College of Arts & Sciences’ New Frontier Grant for the Underground Railroad Research Project. Aching served as director of the Africana Studies and Research Center (2012-2015) as well as Provost’s Fellow for Public Engagement (2017-2019). He is currently a Faculty Fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.
Jafari S. Allen
Jafari Sinclaire Allen is currently Inaugural Co-Director of the University of Miami Center for Global Black Studies, and Director of Africana Studies, at the University of Miami. His second monograph, There’s a disco ball between us: a theory of Black gay life, was released by Duke University Press this year. His scholarship and
teaching has opened new lines of inquiry and offered re‐invigorated methods of Black feminist narrative theorizing in anthropology, Black studies, and queer studies. At work on two monographs: Marooned in Miami: Ecologies of Black Life on an Edge; and Structural Adjustments: Global Black Survival in the 1980s; Professor Allen is the author of ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba; editor of Black/Queer/Diaspora; and a number of other publications. Engaged in ethnographic research in Cuba and the Caribbean for more than twenty years, recent research has also taken him to East Africa, Brazil and Western Europe.
Carole Boyce Davies
Carole Boyce Davies is Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters and Professor of Africana Studies and Literatures in English. She has held distinguished professorships at a number of institutions, including the Herskovits Professor of African Studies and
Professor of Comparative Literary Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject (Routledge, 1994) and Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Duke University Press, 2008). In addition to numerous scholarly articles, Boyce Davies has also published the following critical anthologies: Ngambika: Studies of Women in African Literature (Africa World Press, 1986); Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature (Africa World Press, 1990); and a two-volume collection of critical and creative writing entitled Moving Beyond Boundaries (New York University Press, 1995): International Dimensions of Black Women’s Writing (volume 1), and Black Women’s Diasporas (volume 2). She is co-editor with Ali Mazrui and Isidore Okpewho of The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities (Indiana University Press, 1999) and Decolonizing the Academy: African Diaspora Studies (Africa World Press, 2003). She is general editor of the three-volume, The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora (Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2008), and of Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment: Autobiography, Essays, Poetry (Banbury: Ayebia, 2011). More recent work include Caribbean Spaces: Escape Routes from Twilight Zones (Illinois, 2013), a children’s book, Walking (EducaVision, 2016) and the forthcoming Circularities of Power: Black Women's Right to Political Leadership (Lexington Books - Rowman and Littlefield, 2022). Her popular essays and reviews have been published in media including The Washington Post, The Crisis, Ms. Magazine, Ithaca Journal, The Black Scholar, Miami Herald, Trinidad Guardian and Trinidad Express.
La Marr Jurelle Bruce
La Marr Jurelle Bruce (B.A. Columbia; Ph.D. Yale) is a cultural and literary critic, Black/black studies devotee, first-generation college graduate, and Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His scholarship explores and
activates black expressive cultures—spanning literature, film, music, theatre, religion, and especially the art and aesthetics of quotidian black life. Winner of the Joe Weixlmann Essay Prize from African American Review, he has also published in American Quarterly, The Black Scholar, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Social Text, and TDR. His debut book, How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness and Black Radical Creativity, was supported by Ford and Mellon fellowships and earned the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award. Now he is in the thick of a project on—and experiment in—convergences of love and madness. He sometimes calls it The Afromantic.
Edwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection, Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones, The Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously, Claire of the Sea Light, and Everything Inside. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian
Dyaspora in the United States, Best American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir and Haiti Noir 2. She has written seven books for children and young adults, Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama's Nightingale, Untwine, My Mommy Medicine, as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance. Her memoir, Brother, I'm Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur fellow, a 2018 Ford Foundation “The Art of Change” fellow, and the winner of the 2018 Neustadt International Prize and the 2019 St. Louis Literary Award.
Anaïs Duplan is a trans poet, curator, and artist. He is the author of forthcoming book I NEED MUSIC (Action Books, 2021), a book of essays, Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020), a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Mount
Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press, 2017). He has taught poetry at Bennington College, Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, amongst others. As an independent curator, he has facilitated curatorial projects in Chicago, Boston, Santa Fe, and Reykjavík.
Renee Gladman is a writer and artist preoccupied with crossings, thresholds, and geographies as they play out at the intersections of poetry, prose, drawing and architecture. She is the author of thirteen published works, including a cycle of novels about the city-state Ravicka and its inhabitants, the Ravickians—Event Factory (2010),
The Ravickians (2011), Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2013) and Houses of Ravicka (2017)—as well as two collections of drawings, Prose Architectures (2017) and One Long Black Sentence, a series of white-ink drawings on black paper, indexed by Fred Moten (2020). Plans for Sentences, an image/text-based meditation on black futurity and other choreographies of gathering, will be released this spring. Recent essays and visual work have appeared in POETRY, The Paris Review, Granta, Harper's, BOMB magazine, e-flux and n+1. She has been awarded fellowships, artist grants, and residencies from the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), among others, and is the recipient of a 2021 Windham-Campbell prize in fiction. For more information, visit reneegladman.com
Alyiah Gonzales (she/they) graduated from Cal Poly in Spring of 2020 with a B.A. in English and is currently a Ph.D. student in Literatures in English at Cornell University. They focus on academic and extracurricular work that prioritizes the perspectives and experiences of womxn, nonbinary and queer people of color.
Alyiah published her debut novel, Faeblood Unbroken (Faeblood Chronicles #1) in Spring of 2021, and is currently working on Fated to the Seas and Faeblood Chronicles #2. Alyiah injects a heavy dose of fantasy in her creative fiction and plans to continue producing more Black, queer, fantasy fiction well into the future.
Esther Kondo Heller
Esther Kondo Heller is a poet, writer, and experimental filmmaker. They are a Barbican Young Poet 18/19, an Obsidian Foundation fellow, and Ledbury Critic. They think with layering and unfurling to articulate memory, resonance, and language. They are particularly
interested in Static as a portal of recollection, communion, and as archive. Their films have been selected and screened among other places at the Berlinale Expanded Forum Programme and at the ICA London. Elsewhere, the co-host the monthly radio show, Poetic Healing w/ Zen & Kondo.
Eudes Lopes is a cultural anthropology PhD from Cornell University and holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology and public policy at Princeton University. He was nominated and served as Degree Marshal for Cornell’s 153rd Graduating Class Commencement Ceremony. His dissertation, "The New World: The Life and Death
of the Nation-State,” synthesizes the varied currents of his research on the forward implications of the constitutive grounds for The New World. His work combines social scientific analysis with epic and prose poetry. It experiments with a choral narrative structure sourced to his own ethnographic sensibility toward imaginaries set to the subjunctive past, present, and future.
Nathan Alexander Moore
Nathan Alexander Moore (she/they) is a Black genderfluid transfemme writer, scholar, and dreamer. She is interested in critical and creative methods to explore the nuances of Blackness, queerness, and temporality. Currently, they are a PhD candidate at the University
of Texas at Austin in the department of African and African Diaspora Studies. Their work has previously been published or is forthcoming from Pulse/Pulso: In Remembrance of Orlando (Damaged Goods Press), P-QUEUE, ode to Queer and Peauxdunque Review. Her essay entitled, “Transliminality: Black Transfemmes and the Limit of Visibility Politics” is published in the TransNarratives: Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience collected anthology. Their poetry chapbook, small colossus, was published by above/ground press. You can learn more about them at: www.nathanalexandermoore.com
Fred Moten is Professor of Performance Studies at NYU, a teacher, and a writer whose areas of study and practice include Black Literary, Aural and Visual Culture, Critical Theory, Performance Studies, and Poetry and Poetics. His scholarly texts include The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, co-authored with
Stefano Harney, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, and the trilogy consent not to be a single being (Black and Blur , Stolen Life , and The Universal Machine ), among others. He has published numerous poetry collections, including The Little Edges, The Feel Trio, and B Jenkins, and Hughson’s Tavern. Moten is a 2020 recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, for "[c]reating new conceptual spaces to accommodate emerging forms of Black aesthetics, cultural production, and social life."
Patricia Powell is the author of Me Dying Trial, A Small Gathering of Bones, The Pagoda and The Fullness of Everything. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award and a Lila-Wallace Readers Digest Writer's Award. Powell has taught creative writing at Harvard University, U-Mass, MIT and Mills College. Excerpts from her
novels, as well as her short stories, have been widely anthologized, and she has lectured and led creative writing workshops in literary venues both nationally and internationally. In 1993 Powell was a finalist for Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists Award. Among other prizes, she is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award, The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award for fiction, and The Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. Powell’s fifth novel is forthcoming.
Riché Richardson is a professor of African American literature in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University, whose faculty she joined in 2008. Her other areas of interest include American literature, American studies, black feminism,
gender studies, Southern studies, cultural studies and critical theory. She is the 2016 recipient of the “Educator of the Year Award” from St. Jude Alumni & Friends. She is a 2017 Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellow with the Op-Ed Project whose pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Public Books and Huff Post. Her interviews have been highlighted in news media such as NBC’s The Today Show and Nightly News, CNN, Al Jazeera’s Newshour, On Point Talk, Let’s Go There, the AP, NPR, the New York Times, Time, the BBC, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Forbes, Business Insider, Elle and French Elle, Good Housekeeping, Essence, the Oprah Magazine, the Montgomery Advertiser and WSFA TV News. She served as the educator and collaborated with TED–Ed on the short animation “The Hidden Life of Rosa Parks” (2020). She has produced nearly 40 essays published in journals such as American Literature, Mississippi Quarterly, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, TransAtlantica, the Southern Quarterly, Black Camera, NKA, Phillis, Technoculture, and Labrys, along with edited collections. Her first books focus primarily on examining twentieth and twenty-first century texts in literature and culture and incorporate archival research materials.
India Sada, native to Cincinnati, is a second-year MFA in Poetry candidate and a First-Year Writing “True Stories” course instructor. In her poetry and other inventions, she seeks to braid Audre Lorde’s biomythography and to play with “missing” and “time.” Her current research is moving around the sister sayings, “she’s got the spirit” and
“the spirit’s got her.” Her research also follows the religious traditions of Kongo called Kalunga— the belief in a watery boundary that separates the living and dead. At the center of her coming thesis is the embodiment, memory, and stacking of water.
Dr. Christopher Smith is a Research Associate at the Center for Ethics at University of Toronto with the Race, Ethics, and Power Project. They received their Ph.D. from the Dept. of Social Justice Education – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) / University of
Toronto in 2020. Their research interests reside in the productive interstices of Black Diaspora Cultural Studies, Black expressive cultures and practices, Queer and Feminist Theory, including Post-Colonial and Decolonial studies.
Mariah Thompson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Africana Studies at Cornell University. Originally from Sacramento, CA, Mariah graduated summa cum laude from the University of California - Berkeley with dual degrees in African
American & African Diaspora Studies and Political Science. While at Berkeley, her scholarly engagement bestowed her the honor of receiving the African American Studies Departmental Citation Award, VèVè A. Clark Institute for Engaged Scholars of African American Studies Fellowship, and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. Her current research is at the intersection of legal and extralegal means for the social policing and control of black people in America through what she articulates as whitelashes. Mariah argues that whitelashes are attempts to reestablish the age-old racial hierarchy after moments in history where Black social progress sparked paranoia. She aims to put this concept into conversations around surveillance, vigilantism, and policing.
Mukoma Wa Ngugi is Associate Professor of Literatures in English at Cornell University and the author of The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership, the novels Mrs. Shaw, Black Star Nairobi, Nairobi Heat, and two books of poetry,
Logotherapy and Hurling Words at Consciousness. Unbury Our Dead With Song, a novel about competing Tizita musicians, was released from Cassava Republic Press in May of 2021. Some of his works have been translated into German, Turkish, and French. A member of the African Literature Association’s Executive Council, he is the co-founder of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature. In 2013, New African magazine named him one of the 100 most Influential Africans. In 2015 he was a juror for the Writivism Short Story Prize and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He co-edited with Prof. Laura Murphy, a Special Issue of New Orleans Review titled The African Literary Hustle. In 2016, he wrote an eight part play radio play, Drugs to Kill, Drug to Cure for Deutsche Welle that was translated into Portuguese, Lingala, Kiswahili, Hausa and French. Mukoma holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University and a BA in English and Political Science from Albright College.
Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley is the President of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS) and former Coordinator of the Mellon Foundation’s Hispanic Serving Institutions Pathways to the Professoriate Fellowship at Florida
International University. She is also an Associate Professor of English, and affiliate faculty in African & African Diaspora Studies, the Center for Women and Gender Studies and the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) at FIU. An Andrew W. Mellon and Citizens and Scholars Fellow (formerly Woodrow Wilson), Weir-Soley is the author of Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings (University Press of Florida 2009 and 2015), two poetry collections, First Rain (Peepal Tree Press, 2006), and The Woman Who Knew (Finishing Line Press 2016), and co-editor of Caribbean Erotic (Peepal Tree Press, 2010 with Opal Palmer Adisa) which features essays, fiction and poetry from 62 writers from the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking and French-speaking Caribbean. Her critical and creative writings have been widely published in national and international forums including scholarly and literary journals and edited volumes.
La'Kayla Williams is a recently minted Ph.D. in African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation, "Sacred Bars: Conjure, Performance and the Southern Black Imagination," considers the sonic and visual performances of 3
popular music artists from Houston, Texas to be testaments to the continuing presence of Hoodoo/Conjure in Black cultural production. Through what she theorizes as “sacred bars,” or Black popular music’s irresistible representation of three major figures of the Hoodoo tradition, these artists demonstrate a continuing need Black folks in the U.S. have for spiritual philosophy and cultural ethics rooted in the African Diaspora. La’Kayla is also an artist, content creator and practitioner of Hoodoo. Her online work serves as material demonstrations of her scholarship. Videos posted to her social media accounts educate her followers on Hoodoo history, and demonstrate how the practice manifests itself contemporarily.