Racism, Black Lives Matter, and Immigrant Rights:
Activism and the Academy
Discussion at APLA 2016 Business Meeting
Saturday, November 19, 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 209AB
In 2016, global politics brought race and immigration to the forefront of debates. Humanitarian crises stemming from conflict in the Middle East, the U.S. presidential election, and the U.K. Brexit referendum highlighted conflicts about race, place, and belonging. To bring our members into conversation about these public challenges and our obligations as scholars and teachers, this year’s APLA business meeting will feature a moderated conversation with Bianca Williams and Awa Abdi on their anti-racism advocacy work with Black Lives Matter and immigrant groups.
Bianca C. Williams is an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. As a Black feminist cultural anthropologist, Williams’ research interests include Black women & happiness; race, gender, and emotional labor in higher education institutions; and Black feminist leadership and activist organizing. The investigative thread that binds Williams’ research, teaching, and service together is the question “How do Black people develop strategies for enduring and resisting the effects of racism and sexism, while attempting to maintain emotional wellness?” In her book, titled The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism, Williams examines how African American women use international travel and the Internet as tools for pursuing leisure, creating intimate relationships and friendships, and critiquing American racism and sexism. This book is forthcoming from Duke University Press.
Committed to the notion that anthropology can be an important and powerful motor for institutional and cultural change, Williams is a proud member of the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), the Association of Feminist Anthropologists (AFA), and the Working Group on Racialized Police Brutality and Extrajudicial Violence. Her writing on her public engagement work with Black Lives Matter can be found on the blog Savage Minds, in Cultural Anthropology, and Anthropology News.
Awa (Cawo) Abdi is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Minnesota who teaches and writes about Islamophobia, xenophobia, terrorism panics, and Somali immigrant experience in the US and elsewhere. One of her new projects examines the educational attainment and school choices of new migrants. For children of
migrant parents, the American education system can be their ladder to social mobility and the realization of their American dream, or it can
leave them behind as a part of millions of Americans whose lives remain precarious. This study investigates the increasing role ethnocentric charter schools are playing in new refugee and migrant groups’ education in Minnesota and how this shapes their long-term settlement and integration in the United States. She is the author of Elusive Jannah: The Somali Diaspora and a Borderless Muslim Identity (2015, University of Minnesota Press), which explores the very different experiences of Somali migrants in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and the United States.