Carmen Maria Machado is the author of Her Body and Other Parties, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. Her new acclaimed memoir In the Dream House explores an abusive queer relationship using an inventive form and over a hundred lenses.
Julie Schwietert Collazo is the co-founder and director of Immigrant Families Together (IFT). Immigrant Families Together is a grassroots collective founded in response to the zero tolerance immigration policy begun by the Trump administration in 2018 that has resulted in the separation of thousands of immigrant parents and their children at the U.S./Mexico border. Since June 2018, Immigrant Families together has posted bond for 73 individuals and offered ongoing support— in the form of legal counsel, groceries, healthcare, transportation and more— to many of these individuals and a dozen additional families.
We talked about the need for women to share their proud moments and stories of achievement; about the harm and lasting impact of family separation and detention of asylum seekers on the U.S./ Mexico Border; about the origin and daily work of Immigrant Families Together; and about the need for everyone to find ways to plug into an issue that matters to them so we can work for collective change.
Amy Irvin is the executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund and served as the first intake coordinator. She has worked at abortion clinics in New Orleans and Atlanta and earned her Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Louisville where she researched the impact of parental consent laws for minors at the ACLU of Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Project.
Dr. Yaba Blay is a New Orleans native, distinguished homegirl, content creator, cultural worker, professor and producer of Professional Black Girl. As a researcher and ethnographer, Dr. Blay uses personal and social narratives to disrupt fundamental assumptions about cultures and identities. As a cultural worker, she uses image to inform consciousness, incite dialogue, and inspire others into action and transformation. Dr. Blay spoke about the beginnings and evolution of the Professional Black Girl hashtag, community, and web series; her recent tour to Historically Black Colleges and Universities with friend, colleague, and #metoo founder Tarana Burke; the persistent harm of white supremacy and the power of Black culture, creation, and community in New Orleans.
Nishta J. Mehra is the author of the new book BROWN WHITE BLACK: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion. She is also the proud first-generation daughter of Indian immigrants and a longtime educator. We talked about her book, interracial adoption, gender fluidity, and gendered expectations surrounding hair. Nishta also discussed the need for other communities of color to work against anti-blackness and both the frustration and the freedom of making it up as you go along when navigating intersecting identities.
Adiba Nelson is a writer, author, performer, mom, wife, and occasional rabble-rouser. Adiba spoke about her work to increase inclusivity and representation of children with disabilities to children’s literature and television programming; about her burlesque performances and honest personal essays and how they offer those watching and listening permission to live their truths; and about the need for collective outrage at the societal mistreatment of black women and all women of color so that, together, we can enact cultural change.
Jade Beall is a world-renowned photographer whose projects, including The Beautiful Body Project and The Bodies of Mothers, have transformed perceptions of beauty. We talked about perceptions of the bodies of women, mothers, and elders; the need for body liberation; and the healing power of photography.