The Department of Gender and Race Studies was established in 2009 when the longstanding Department of Women’s Studies came together with the African American Studies Program to be housed in one departmental unit. This academic department draws on the best traditions in the fields of Women’s Studies and African American Studies in order to educate students about local, national, and global issues related to women and communities of color.
On Valentine’s day this year, the Women’s Resource Center and students at the University of Alabama joined the One Billion Rising campaign. The One Billion Rising campaign was founded by Eve Ensler to raise awareness about global violence against women. This year in cities across the globe, women came together in flash mobs on Valentine’s day to dance for awareness. Through the V day flash mobs, women were able to take up public space with their bodies and create community with one another. The dances allowed women to come together in solidarity regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, or geographical location. Through YouTube videos, the movement allowed women to come together and to see each other in various parts of the world rising against violence. My favorite video is one of women in prison rising and dancing together. The women describe this experience of dancing as a way to connect, to release pain, and to feel free. One woman explains the dance reminded her women are powerful.
Video courtesy of www.DancingWithoutBorders.org and www.HerRising.org
I was able to be a part of the flash mob held at the University of Alabama, and it was an amazing and valuable experience. The student leadership council and their advisor organized a series of rehearsals. At these rehearsals, I met so many amazing women and I had a wonderful and unique experience. At first, I was not comfortable dancing, but over time with the encouragement of others I began to have fun. As women, we are often told to hide or to control our bodies. At rehearsals, I did not feel the need to hide my body. On the day of the dance, I started feeling nervous about performing in front of others. I felt the need to hide, but I remembered the encouragement of my fellow dancers and the importance of rising against violence. So I danced. After the dance, one of my fellow dancers came up and gave me a hug. She said “I would have never done this. I am so glad I did” and I share her feelings. We came together against violence and created community.