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Column By: Taylor Lamb

Hey y’all. It’s me. Your favorite unapologetic, black, advocate for feminism coming at you with something new for this semester. A column. The Black Column, to be exact.

“Oh no!” One might be thinking. “They gave her another opportunity to shove her agenda down our throats?!”

Yes. Yes, they did.

So, here’s the rundown: This semester I am taking “African & African American Studies II,” taught by Professor Harold. Is this my first “black” class? Hardly. I always try to integrate my blackness into my studies in any way I can, despite not being an AAS major. But I’ve never had a platform like this. So while I get educated, I’m gonna educate y’all a little bit too.


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Teach-In (3)

Story By: Kimia Nikseresht

As an immigrant, as a follower of Islam, and as a woman, I have turned to Iris time and time again to tell my story. It may be a bit more complicated at times, but it’s not too different from yours – a journey of challenges and victories, self-exploration and set-backs, love and heartbreak, and lots and lots of laughter.

This week, though, laughter has not been an option. On the 27th of January, President Trump issued an executive order (full text here) that could have been summarized with a simple “f*** you, you muslim idiots” tweet. Here’s what the executive order did, in its most basic form: stopped all refugee admittance into the United States for 120 days, prohibited any non-US citizen born in any of the specified seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the country (regardless of their immigration status) for 90 days, and said “nah bitch” to Syrian refugees – the millions of Syrian families who are desperately searching for safety and shelter – hoping to enter the United States indefinitely. And here’s the best part: Charles Kurzman, professor at UNC Chapel Hill and an expert in Islamic Fundamentalism reminds us that “there have been zero fatalities in the U.S. by extremists from the countries on Trump’s list”.


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FINDING FEMINISM

After reading Iris intern Taylor Lamb’s piece “The F Word,” [hyperlinked] U.K. resident Ash Moylan was moved from across the pond to submit her own story of feminist awakening. While we usually only publish the work of University of Virginia students, we thought now might be a great time to highlight a voice of global solidarity. So cheers to Ash Moylan, who has a degree in “Gender Politics,” works as a “lecture helper” in Carlisle, Cumbria, UK, drives a Fiat Panda (stick), and who is a self-described “ballsy blonde with sassy senses and a dangerous degree!”

Story By: Ash Moylan

“YOU CAN’T GO THROUGH THERE” – you haven’t got the necessary equipment,” a farmer told me when I tried to enter a tent marked “Washroom B”.

I was 8, camping with my school, and I’d assumed that the “B” distinguished it from “Washroom A”.

But no, “B” apparently stood for Boys, and I had to enter a different building entirely, and forsake the camping experience!

“The necessary equipment”? Did men really talk like that in the outside world?

I mean, I knew what he meant (this was 2002 and I had  a male cousin who peed wherever and whenever the urge took him), but I was understandably crushed.

Until I got home and told my 13 year-old female cousin, and asked her why men felt a need to run us down like that.


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The power of language following the Women’s March and the Inauguration

Story By: Pinky Hossain

Language – for better or for worse – shapes our thinking, our activism, and our view of America. We saw this firsthand over the weekend in the wonderful posters displayed and the chants uttered at the monumental Women’s March in Washington. Some of my favorite posters included “this some bullshit,” the forever-relevant Beyoncé lyrics “Who Run the World? Girls” and, of course, “we shall overcomb.” I mean, it just does so much at once, you know?

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The posters reminded me not only of how powerful language is, but also of how powerful the written word is. The atmosphere at the march was tense, but nonviolent. We fought with writing, we fought with words, with language. At one point during the protest, I witnessed two men holding large signs proclaiming “It is not too late to repent your sins” and other hateful religious babble. Another man stood in front of them with his pink sign claiming, “I love Jesus, but I make him wear a condom.” It was beautifully silent, nonviolent, but also impactful. Unashamed, unabashedly uncensored, the pussy grabbed back.


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“Oh, You Marched? Good for You, Honey”

Story By: Kimia Nikseresht

20 January, 2017.

Normal day.

21 January, 2017.

8 AM: Standing on the crowded Metro, heading into Washington D.C. One woman walking up and down the Metro with her “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat. It’s too damn early for this shit.

10 AM: An air of empowerment has taken over. Excitement. Inspiration. How are people so freaking creative? These signs are mind-blowing. Speakers saying important things. I’m making history.

1 PM: Now I’m thinking. As the next speaker’s message resonates with those of the 8 speakers before her, I’m thinking about what this means. The first all-inclusive women’s movement in America. Immigrants welcome, and leading the charge. Muslim women, Black women, Latina women, LGBTQ women, middle-class White women… all are standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Peaceful and respectful.


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How Art Can Save the World

Story By: Taylor Lamb

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Anti-Trump protest which took place in Las Vegas. Photo from Las Vegas Review Journal.

If you have read any of my articles before this point, you can probably guess my political views and, subsequently, how I reacted to the results of the recent election. I was hurt, confused, angry, scared… I felt betrayed. I felt as though my country had let me down. I skipped one of my classes because I couldn’t bring myself to face a lecture full of people who aren’t affected by the results in the way that I am, as a black woman. I couldn’t bring myself to face a lecture full of people who were possibly happy with the results. I wasn’t in a good place. Many people felt the same way. I had conversations with people wondering: What do we do? Do we cry? Do we fight? Protest? I had people tell me that they wanted to do something to impact the world, but they weren’t sure what. There are a variety of things one can do to improve the world, and I definitely can’t impose my views on anyone else. But if you’re looking for something that will change the world as well as something to find solace in, here’s my suggestion: create art. 

That probably wasn’t what you were expecting. Art is definitely devalued by society, and I might say this is even more true at UVA. Art majors are looked down upon. If you have a high GPA, but you’re not a STEM major or in the Comm School, people say it doesn’t mean anything. And here I am saying that art will change the world. Those might not add up in your mind, but this is not a new opinion I am introducing. I myself did not know this until college. Perhaps it is the world’s best kept secret, but art is the soul of the revolution. Look to your major movements, look to the leaders of the movements, and they will say the same. Throughout history, marginalized people have used art to express themselves, to inspire people, and to improve the world. I’m talking all types of art–literature, music, paintings, sketches, theatre, etc.


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