Diaspora Discussions: ASU Hosts Talk on African Diaspora

ASU's panel from left to right; Aissata Cisee, Abayomi Are, Deborah Denis, Ifeyina Anako./ Edwina Laurent


By Yassir Azzam


   On Wednesday, March 27, the African Student Union (ASU) hosted a discussion regarding issues of the African diaspora in the modern world with a focus on women’s voices from the diaspora.  

   ASU created the panel from different walks of life that “resonated with special corners of their [e-board members] lives,” President of ASU Fatoumata Soumahoro told The Vanguard. They looked into communities they are a part of and created a panel focused on the lives of the women of color in them. 

   The panel included various successful African women, each with a diverse and rich culture and career background: educator Ifeyina Anako; Abayomi Are, a chef in and entrepreneur of Mariam’s Kitchen; Aissata Cisee, a student at BC; and Deborah Denis, a researcher and advocate in maternal and public health at New York University. The goal of the event, according to organizers, was to uplift women of color from the region by sharing their experiences. 

   “BC students should know that women in the African diaspora are making waves and creating a ripple effect for communities here in the United States. From street vending, to African restaurants, push back against lack of medical resources for women of color, education, clubs […] African women are paving the way and encouraging their sisters to join movements that caters to our needs and to not let a moment linger for too long,” Soumahoro told The Vanguard. “With this event, we hope to empower and uplift women who hail from the African diaspora.” 

   The panelists highlighted the sacrifices and contributions that women made in Africa, and the creation of communities for African women in the United States who face barriers while immigrating. In addition, they shared their experiences trying to make progress in their personal, academic, and professional lives.

   “The panelists shared the cultural traditions rooted in their family histories, and spoke of the difficulties of what it meant to be a woman, to be secondary, and to learn how to hustle to make your mark,” Soumahoro said. “This, they mentioned, made it difficult to operate in their respective career paths in the beginning, but they eventually created a community of like-minded individuals to help them see through the traditions.”

   According to a study conducted by Mary J. Osirim Professor of Sociology at Bryn Mawr College, solidarity is created by women in the “New Diaspora” in America through a recreation of their culture from Africa. Events such as these help to shed light on the African diaspora as well as the valuable support it creates in the lives of immigrant women of color. The event also created opportunities for BC students attending the event to connect with other women of color.

   “Women are the biggest pillar of the African Diaspora: they’re the mothers, the older sisters, the support system of the entire African Diaspora,” Wisdom Obadofin, treasurer of ASU, told The Vanguard. “ASU will continue to put the spotlight on African students at BC, as a few of the E-Board members will be graduating this semester, we are gladly passing the torch to other enthusiastic and passionate students.”

   ASU aims to continue to uplift the women in their communities, and allow women of color to have their stories be heard that are all unique and individual to their lived experiences.

   “Women deserve to be heard and regarded importantly, and it is time they are treated as so,” Soumahoro said. 


   To be a part of more events and conversations regarding the African diaspora, follow the African Student Union on Instagram @brooklyncollege_asu 


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