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Black Women OWN Conversation



Students gathered in The Bridge Cafe Oct. 16 to discuss their experiences with family and friends as Black women. Photo by Sophie Austin

From interracial adoption to the maintenance of home and college friendships, students at AU revealed their thoughts on relationships with family and friends at The Bridge Cafe Oct. 16 as part of a four-part conversation series among Black women.

Danielle Germain, a senior majoring in American Studies, coordinated "Black Women OWN the Conversation @ AU" after political commentator Angela Rye, for whom Germain interns, appeared on a series featured on Oprah Winfrey's television network. Germain saw it as an opportunity for Black women to discuss important topics at a predominantly white institution.

"When I was a freshman, we didn't have anything like this," she said before the conversation.

The event, which brought in about 40 students, was co-hosted by Sister Sister AU, a group which aims to foster a sisterhood among undergraduate women students of the African diaspora.
The original series was the product of a partnership between OWN and OZY, a media company which described it as "a show for our time."

This specific part in the AU series was a nod to a "Black Women OWN the Conversation" episode which focused on motherhood, Germain said. Rye was on that episode for the original series, which was the second part.

Germain watched through the original series' four parts multiple times, which helped her come up with questions to moderate the AU series, she said.

Senior Alexis Arnold, junior Yeabsera Mengistu, freshman Faith Anderson and sophomore Mackenzie Meadows were featured as panelists.

During the conversation, Mengistu said while she found the idea of becoming a mother "terrifying" as a freshman, building a healthier relationship with her mother helped change her mind about not having children.

"When I was younger, I'd think about all the things that motherhood takes away from a person," Mengistu said. "It took me building that relationship with my mom and my grandmother to understand that it gave them a lot too."

After Mengistu shared her experience, members of the crowd looked at each other to see if their fellow students had tears preparing to fall from their eyes. 

In addition to the panelists, members of the audience shared their experiences with family and friends. 

One of the longest discussions that audience members chimed in on was on the topic of childhood discipline. Although everyone didn't agree that they wouldn't physically discipline their children in the future, multiple people described being physically disciplined as a child as traumatic or unproductive.

Anderson, who applied to become a panelist after seeing a social media post about the event from Sister Sister AU, said before the event that she hopes the conversation series becomes a tradition at AU.

"I don't think we've ever had a space where we've just had open dialogue," she said.

Disclaimer: A guest writer covered this event because many Blackprint staff members participated in the series.

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