On November 19th, Joshua Allen presented their workshop entitled “Organizing at the Intersection of Black Lives Matter & Gender Justice” in the Warner Hemicycle. This workshop was sponsored in part by a Community Engagement Mini-Grant. The workshop was also attended by a number of community partners, including the Department of Residence Life at UVM, a staff member at Safe Space, and representatives of the Burlington-based Pride Center Vermont.
Joshua discussed overlapping or intersecting social identities and oppressions. In this case, they detailed the intersection of the Black Lives Matter movement with violence against women, femmes, and girls. Joshua challenged participants to engage in these movements, providing students, faculty, and community members with tools to create inclusive organizing spaces and engage with these issues more effectively. Joshua didn’t hesitate to ask difficult questions about life at Middlebury, including the language that we use, the identities that we inhabit, and what solidarity means in our community.
Middlebury’s Queer Studies House initiated this workshop. Noting the increased institutional focus on intersectional identities, including the upcoming visit of scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, student organizers sought to create a space to resist cis-normativity and celebrate trans* leadership. Moreover, given last year’s die-ins and the alternative spring break trip to Montgomery, Alabama, student organizers sought to build upon much of the conversations that had already begun at Middlebury.