Saturday, February 02, 2008

Welcome Dr. Kaila Story

Sometimes activism and education efforts on transgender issues doesn't just mean jawboning with legislators to do the right thing and pass laws.

Earlier today Dawn and I got into diva mode and spent a few hours at the Louisville Urban League headquarters on West Broadway. We were invited to be there for a reception welcoming Dr. Kaila Adia Story to the University of Louisville. She's an assistant professor in U of L’s departments of women’s and gender studies and of Pan-African studies.

Dr. Story is the Audre Lord Chair in Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality. It was established at U of L in January 2005 by Carla F. Wallace (someone else I know personally and attend her lawn party every summer).

The chair is jointly based in the U of L Department of Women's and Gender Studies and the Department of Pan African Studies, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. The teaching and research emphasis of the chair is the intersection of race, gender, class and sexualities across national boundaries.

Dr. Story has been at the university teaching classes since the fall semester and I'm planning to check out her current class on an upcoming day off. I've also offered to talk to her classes about transgender issues when she needs me or Dawn to do so.

Dr. Story is originally from Philly and her research concentration as the Audre Lorde Chair examines the intersections of race, gender, class and sexuality.

She's also interested in exploring connections between the performance of identity and racialized body politics for African Diasporan women and men. Her previous work looked at the projected image of the Black feminine body by examining four separate but related “Venus” figures through cultural imagery, popular media and discourse.

She's been published in the Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences and Culture, a Journal of Pan-African Studies special edition and in the anthology “Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop and Feminism.”

Dr. Story has created and teaches courses about Black lesbian lives and an introduction to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer studies. She also teaches courses in Pan-African studies and gender and public dialogue.

She earned her doctorate in African American studies, graduate certificate in women’s studies and her master’s degree in African American studies at Temple University. Her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies is from DePaul University, where she also received the bell hooks Academic Achievement Award. She was a graduate fellow of Temple’s Institute for Race and Social Thought.

So yes, thanks to the Bucks For Brains program, one that former Gov. Paul Patton (D) began in 1997 (that some of the nekulturny legislators want to cut funding to) and the Audre Lorde chair, U of L snagged this rising academic star.

During the two hour event that started at 5 PM EST, various peeps in the progressive activist community, her colleagues in the department, Dr. Ricky Jones, Dr. Blaine Hudson, Carla Wallace and even her students said a few words. Dawn and I were also tapped to speak before Dr. Story took the mic and thanked all of us for the warm welcome and her gift, a framed copy of her favorite Audre Lorde quote that is posted on her office door.

Shoot, hearing Dr. Story's students talk about her is making me think about going back to college myself. ;)

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