“Racial Justice Beyond the Self – a two-part talk”

Part One: A Time When I Stood Up – celeste doaks

As an artist, and more specifically as a poet, I spend much of my time building worlds with my words. These mostly-fictional, celeste-constructed worlds are exciting for readers to enter, but what can I offer when their actual worlds are cracked and falling apart? In September of last year, I faced a serious dilemma. A poetry collective I am a part of, Black Ladies Brunch Collective, was invited to read poetry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Just days before the event I discovered that students were protesting how the University mishandled rape kits and covered up multiple sexual assaults on campus. This required that I, and my collective, gave thoughtful and deep consideration to what we would present on stage to UMBC’s young men and women during this tumultuous time.

Poet and journalist celeste doaks is the author of Cornrows and Cornfields (Wrecking Ball Press, UK, 2015). She is also the editor of, and contributor in, the poetry anthology Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Joy, and Sexuality (Mason Jar Press, 2017). Her newest poems can be found in the Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America Anthology (New York Quarterly, 2018). She is University of Delaware’s Visiting Assistant Professor in Creative Writing for 2017-2019, and the recipient of a 2017 Rubys Literary Arts Grant Award. For more visit www.doaksgirl.com or check out the podcast she co-hosts with Anthony Moll called Lit!Pop!Bang! doaks is married to scholar Karl Henzy.

Part Two: A Guest in the Conversation – Dr. Karl Henzy

As a white professor at an HBCU who teaches and publishes on works of black literature, I have found that there are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to contributing my voice. In my life I find myself repeatedly to be the one white participant in conversations among intelligent and passionate African Americans. What is an ethical way to participate in those conversations? Is it any different from participation in any other conversation? I believe it is, and I will offer some thoughts I have arrived at over a long time of being a “guest” in those conversations.

Dr. Karl Henzy grew up in southeastern Connecticut and earned his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Connecticut. Henzy received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Delaware in 1993. That same year, he joined the faculty of Morgan State University in Baltimore, and after 25 years in Maryland’s largest city, he considers himself a transplanted Baltimorean. Henzy has published in The Chronicle for Higher EducationCallaloo, and The D.H. Lawrence Review, among other venues. He has written on modernism, interconnections between literature and classical music, D.H. Lawrence, the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison, among others. He is married to poet celeste doaks.

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