Tenth Annual 'Claiming Williams Day' Emphasizes Equity and Inclusion on Campus
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College will hold its annual "Claiming Williams Day" on Thursday, Jan. 31, with events throughout the day that encourage discussions about inclusivity and inequality.
Marking 10 years since the first Claiming Williams Day, this year's events highlight historical and contemporary efforts by changemakers to make Williams inclusive and accountable to its various communities, especially underrepresented and underserved groups. While most of the events are open only to the Williams College community, three events are open to the public: a film screening of "TransMilitary" followed by a discussion with filmmaker Fiona Dawkins will be held at 9:30 a.m. on the MainStage at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance; a conversation with photographer Whitney Hubbs on "Gender, Gaze, and the Photographic Canon" will be held at 2 p.m. at the Clark Art Institute's Michael Conforti Pavilion; and Tarana Burke, founder of "Me Too" Movement, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Chapin Hall.
"TransMilitary," co-directed by Fiona Dawson, chronicles the lives of four individuals defending their country's freedom while fighting for their own: Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace and First Lieutenant El Cook. These service members put their careers and families' livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to Pentagon officials in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The screening opens Claiming Williams Day 2019 and will include a talk-back with Dawson. An award-winning director, producer, writer, and LGBTQ advocate, Dawson has previously filmed stories on Indian sex trafficking, prostitution, and HIV/AIDS.
Whitney Hubbs, photographer, professor, and activist, will present on "Gender, Gaze, and the Photographic Cannon," a lecture investigating how the photographic canon omits women and privileges the male gaze. Growing up on the West Coast enjoying the works of photographers who unapologetically explore the female form, Hubbs was always curious about exploring the observational gaze of women through their camera lenses. Throughout her career, Hubbs' work with the female form has endeavored to redefine the medium and make the viewer question who controls the image of the woman in her photographs. Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions and currently teaches as an assistant professor of photography at Alfred University. In her talk, Hubbs will recount her work addressing questions such as, "How does the male form play out in photographs of women?" and "How can pictures visualize a conceptual idea of the known presence calling of a past?"
The 2019 Claiming Williams keynote event will feature Tarana Burke, social justice activist and founder of the "Me Too" Movement in the form of an interview with Rhon Manigault-Bryant, associate professor of Africana studies and faculty affiliate in religion. Manigault-Bryant will craft her interview questions based on feedback from the campus community. Burke has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice and laying the groundwork for the "Me Too" Movement, initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault. Catalyzed by an explosion of digital engagement with the "Me Too" Movement, Burke's movement has become an international call for solidarity, amplifying the voices of survivors of sexual abuse and assault and demanding justice. In addition to founding the "Me Too" Movement, Burke is the senior director of Girls for Gender Equity based in Brooklyn, N.Y. On stage, she provides words of empowerment that uplift marginalized voices and reminds an intersectionality of survivors that they are not alone, creating a space of comfort and healing after trauma. Burke's lifetime of social justice activism awarded her the honor of being named The Root 100’s most influential person of 2018.
Claiming Williams invites the community to acknowledge and understand the uncomfortable reality that not all students, staff, and faculty can equally "claim" Williams. By challenging the effects of the college's history of inequality that are based on privileges of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion, we can provoke individual, institutional, and cultural change.
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