On March 23, the Department of Ethnic Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies held a Community Conversation with Dr. Tori Arthur and Dr. Caroline Aronis.

Dr. Arthur presented “#AbledsAreWeird: TikTok and Representing Black Disabled Womanhood”.

Over the last decade, disability justice activists have employed social networking platforms to raise awareness about the lived experiences of disabled people, a phenomenon that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first few months of quarantine saw the digital rise of prominent disability advocate Imani Barbarin, known to her social media communities as @crutches_and_spice. Barbarin’s as a Black disabled fat queer woman within TikTok became distinct subversion to erroneous notions of disabled life. Drawing upon Moya Bailey’s digital alchemy theory situating how Black women’s online identity performances combat anti-Blackness and sexism (2021), Dr. Arthur asserts Barbarin as a purveyor of ‘disabled digital alchemy’ who employs social networking platforms to challenge ableist notions of disabled people’s selfhood, particularly those of Black women, femmes, nonbinary and gender non-conforming people.

Dr. Aronis presented “Historical Marking of Jews, Current Nazi Swastikas, and Jewish Identity”.

In the last three years, Dr. Aronis developed work that studies swastikas, nooses, and other white supremacist terroristic acts. She shared a variety of directions of this ongoing project, and specifically about a current manuscript  that is in progress, “The Nazi Swastika as a Dual Act of Marking and Jewish Identity”. Dr. Aronis focuses on problematizing the current use of the Nazi swastika (in U.S. cities, universities, and so on) as a troubling contemporary identifier of “the Jew.” The argument draws from the historical practices of marking Jewish people, as well as the historical and contemporary use and meaning of the Nazi swastika in Western societies, and specifically in the US.