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Home > Academics > Undergraduate >
Ethnic Studies

Black History Month

Theme: “Healing Justice”
Healing justice is a framework that identifies holistic responses to intergenerational trauma and violence and generates collective practices to transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds.

Black History Month Photo Display
Toyon Meadow, Month of February
The timeline will consist of different opportunities to heal your body and mind. On each stake there will be an activity that promotes a healthy practice as well as information on local businesses that offer that particular service. On the opposite side of the stake there will be an image representing health (i.e. a heart) and a vow from each member of the collective stating what they will do to maintain a healthy and just lifestyle.

Black History Month Kick Off
12:15 pm, Monday, February 2, 2015, Suzanne Adams Plaza
The Black Women's Collective invites the college community to join BWC members in Adam's Plaza to celebrate the kick off of Black History Month.

Black Lives Matter: Honoring Black Victims of Police Brutality
12:15 pm, Tuesday, February 3, 2015, Suzanne Adams Plaza
This will be a silent event with photos that will hang in the tea shop for the remainder of the month. There will be a visual to honor the lives lost to police brutality as well as statistics and information on dealing with state-sanctioned violence.

Decolonizing Your Diet
7:00-9:00 pm, Thursday, February 5, 2015, Student Union
This event will focus on the importance of local food and the significance of knowing your food and your body. Local farmers from West Oakland will come and share their knowledge about healthful food, and how food can serve as medicine. This workshop will feature interactive components that show people how best to shop, and where to shop to support local black businesses.

Dr. Gail Myers is a cultural anthropologist who earned her Doctorate in Anthropology from The Ohio State University, her Masters in Applied Anthropology from Georgia State University and her Bachelors in English from Florida State University.In the past 15 years Dr. Myers she has been lecturing, researching, teaching, writing and documenting stories of African American farmers, sharecroppers, and gardeners. Dr. Myers is considered an expert in the anthropology of African American farming.

Heal Your Hair: A Conversation and Hair Product Show-and-Tell
5:00-7:00 pm, Monday, February 9, 2015, Solidarity Lounge
Join the Black Women’s Collective for an opportunity to learn from one another about the dos-and-don’ts of hair care. With so many hair care products out there promising results such as “Intense moisture and hydration,” “anti-shrinkage,” “anti-breakage,” “hair growth,” and “hair and heat protection,” it can become quite overwhelming to find a good and effective product for your hair; and constant trial-and error can become quite expensive. Heal Your Hair: A Conversation and Hair Product Show-and-Tell will provide a space where we can all get together, bring our hair products (ones we like and ones that didn't quite work out for us) and share our experiences with one another. General advice on healthy hair care tips and tricks will also be provided, partnered with a DIY activity involving organic ingredients that foster healthy hair.

Black History Month Dinner and the Appreciation of our Black Faculty and Staff
5:00-7:00 pm, Wednesday, February 11, 2015, Founders Hall
Come and enjoy a delicious twist on Afro American southern soul food with a Haitian vegan twist! Entertainment will be provided by a El Wah Movement Dance Theatre.

fac-staff gathering

The Black Faculty and Staff Appreciation Dinner honors and celebrate the trailblazing and efforts and empowered spirits of the Black Faculty and Staff who enrich the Mills College Community. The dinner is an opportunity for the women of the Black Women’s Collective to meet Black faculty and staff and establish relationships that will enhance their Mills experience. The Faculty and Staff are treated with dinner, in addition to being honored with certificates. This year’s theme is about healing, so let's continue by being in community around food and good company.

The delicious menu includes:

Gumbo Soup “vegan”

Mixed Green Salad with 1000 Island or Ranch Dressing
Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Creamy Potato Salad

Shrimp Jambalaya
BBQ Pork Ribs
Fried Chicken
Creole Succotash with Seitan and Rice “vegan”
Tofu Jambalaya

Side Dishes:
Macaroni and Cheese
Candied Yams with Mini Marshmallows
Green Bean Casserole
Collard Greens “vegan”


Sweet Potato Pie
Peach Cobbler
Seven up Cake

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Black History Month Dinner is sponsored by Bon Appetit. Free to students with meal plan and $10.50 for all others.

El Wah Movement Dance Theatre–Haitian Dance Performance
7:00 pm, Wednesday, February 11, 2015, Student Union
Please join us for this very exciting dance workshop with Colette Eloi and Djems Dorsainvil!!

Colette Eloi, MFA–Haitian Dancer/Choreographer/Artistic Colette EloiDirector of El Wah Movement Dance Theatre, has dedicated her life to sharing with the world the rich traditions and cultural history of her parent’s native Haiti. She is Artistic Director of El Wah Movement Dance Theatre and teaches dance at Laney College in Oakland. She has performed professionally across the US, as well as in Africa, Haiti, Spain, Cuba and the south of France as a dancer/choreographer. She has performed a professional dancer with various groups including Petit Le Croix, Reconnect, Chouconne Haitian Dance Troupe, Emese (Messagers of the African Diaspora) and Dimensions Dance Theatre NY, Dimensions and Nuba. She is also a board member of the Northern California Katherine Dunham Project. Her foundational dance training came from UC Berkeley and the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Performing Arts, formerly the Alice Art Center, and includes jazz, ballet, modern, Dunham Technique and many traditional folkloric styles. She studied dance in Haiti with the famed Madame Gauthier, Ramses Pierre and Fofo. To complement her understanding of the intricacies of Haitian Dance, Colette studied traditional Haitian drumming with master drummers such as Frisner Augustine, and Fanfan Louis. Colette’s vision as a choreographer is to dance a through-line of the African experience as it manifest in the traditional movements of the Diaspora. Ms. Eloi has earned many awards for her artistic endeavors including commissions to choreograph the first West Coast production of the Tim Rice and Elton John’s “Aida” for which she was awarded for he choreography. She was also commissioned to choreograph a piece in Tribute of Ms. Katherine Dunham.

Ms. Eloi founded, El Wah Movement in 2005, which means Movement of the Soul. Along with presenting traditional Haitian folkloric dance, the troupe also presents fusion pieces using traditional African based movements to create choreography that speak to contemporary life. Having done dance research in Africa and several locals in the African Diaspora, Ms. Eloi offers a thorough glimpse into the world of Haitian Folkloric Dance. She has also been invited to many UC’s as well as public and private schools locally, nationally and internationally, to offer master classes on Haitian Folkloric dance, in lecture, performance and dance workshop form. Contact:

Djems Dorsainvil, Master Conga Drummer and Haitian Kreyol teacher has been playing drums sinceDjems Dorsainvil he was six years old. Born in Lester, Haiti he teaches and plays Haitian Music. Playing the drum is his heart. At a young age in Souvenance, Haiti, he studied in the roots of his culture, which is Racine (Roots), people call it Vodou. His teacher was Herard Simon, the founder of the group Racine Vodou. He went on to teach his first drum class at 18. He then created his own Theatre Groupe called Etoile Brillante, Shinning Star, which performed dance, theater and music. He has played music with Band Principle, Vaksin Band and is honored to have shared the stage with the popular Haitian musicians from Azor’s, Racine Mapou and Boukman Esyperyans. He is also a member of Racine LaKay in Gonaive, Haiti. Beyond my cultural music, he plays many styles of percussion. He also plays for a World Music Band called AfroRhythm, which plays reggae, soukous and merengue, here in the Bay Area. He can play whatever rhythm you give him. He is partnered with Colette Eloi of El Wah Movement Dance Theatre, they are working on a project, Aochennago Racine Dance Company. Most recently, he is working for Dimensions Dance Theatre as a musician and percussion instructor. He has taught in many high schools and drum for the Laney College Dance Department. He is currently working on an album and teaching private drum classes. Contact:

Healing from Toxic Media
4:00-6:00 pm, Wednesday, February 18, 2015, Faculty and Staff Lounge
Healing Toxic MediaFrom cultural appropriation of black culture to massive female sexualization to reality TV, Healing from Toxic Media brings discussion and reflection about popular culture’s representation of otherness. The goal here is to share our thoughts and reactions about how mainstream society sees us compared to how we see ourselves. Our guest panelists include Professor Ajuan Mance, Arnetta Smith, and Professor Vivian Chin with moderator Professor Elmaz Abinader.

Ajuan Mance is a professor in the Mills College English Department. An African American literature specialist, she completed her BA in English at Brown University and her MA and PhD in Ajuan ManceEnglish at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of Inventing Black Women: African American Women Poets and Self Representation, 1877-2000 (2007). Her second book, Before Harlem: An Anthology of African American Literature from the Long Nineteenth Century, will be out in late 2015.

Arnetta Smith is a performer, writer, and filmmaker who is passionate about creating meaningful platforms and messages for under-represented narratives and voices. She identifies herself as a Black queer female committed to social justice and equality for all marginalized people. For several years, she served as the Performance Chair for Butch Voices, a biennial conference for masculine-identified female-born individuals and in 2012 received a BA in Africana Studies, the first in her immediate family. She is currently completing her MA thesis which is a visual anthropological study on images found in queer media.

Vivian Chin is a professor in the Mills College Ethnic Studies Department. She has a BA in English from Mills and a PhD in Vivian ChinRhetoric from UC Berkeley. She spends a lot of time thinking about the politics of representation or how what we read, watch, and get bombarded with might be very racist and otherwise full of hate disguised as something silly, pleasant, and/or neutral.

Elmaz Abinader is author of a two books of poems, This House, My Bones, the 2014 Editors Selection from Willow Books, and In the Country of My Dreams, (Sufiwarrior Press) which won the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry Award, 2000. Elmaz AbinaderShe has written memoir, The Children of the Roojme: A Family's Journey from Lebanon, and has written and performed several one-women plays including Country of Origin, Ramadan Moon, 32 Mohammeds, Voices from the Siege and The Torture Quartet. Winner of a Goldies in Literature, Elmaz teaches at Mills College in Oakland, and is co-founder of VONA/Voices.

The Art of Living Black—Open Studios Art Fair
11:00-5:00, Saturday and Sunday, February 21 and 22, 2015, Student Union
Part of "The Art Of Living Black", Bay Area Black Artists Exhibition and Art Tour 2015, sponsored by the Richmond Art Center.

Conjure Featuring over ten Bay Area artists of African descent, including our very own Mills Professor Ajuan Mance’s acrylic paintings! This exciting group art exhibition provides a unique opportunity for attendees to meet the artists and talk with them about their work. The show includes sculptors, painters, mixed media artists, photographers, zine makers, illustrators, and doll makers. This year’s participants also include: Tai Belize, Howard Mackey, Karen Oyekanmi, Gwendolyn Reed Lyn Rockwell, Angela Simms, Sylvia Atiba Thomas, Valerie Brown-Troutt, zine artist Avy Jetter (creator of Nuthin Good Ever Happens at 4 A.M.).

This event is free and open to the public.

Self Guided Art Tour Weekend: Individual Studio Spaces in the cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Martinez, Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Mateo and Vallejo. For information on all venues, The Art of Living Black 2015 Art Tour Directories are available at The Richmond Art Center, 510.620.2772.

Healing Justice: A Conversation
7:00 pm, Wednesday, February 25, 2015, GSB Gathering Hall 101
Join us for an intimate evening with visionary healers and spiritual warriors Reverend Zenju Earhlynn Manuel and Dr. Arisika Razak, in conversation with anti-violence activist Alisa Bierria. Healing justice is a framework that identifies holistic responses to intergenerational trauma and violence. In this conversation, we ask what individual and collective practices can be generated to transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds.

Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, author, visual artist, Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manueldrummer, and Zen Buddhist priest, is the guiding teacher of Still Breathing Zen Community in East Oakland, CA. She was raised with two sisters in Los Angeles after her parents migrated there from Creole Louisiana. She is the author of The Way of Tenderness and Tell Me Something About Buddhism and contributing author to many books, including Dharma, Color and Culture: Voices From Western Buddhist Teachers of Color and The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. She lives in Oakland, CA. Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel will be signing her book, The Way of Tenderness.

Arisika Razak, MPH is the current Director of Diversity and Arisika Razakthe former Chair of the Women’s Spirituality Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her teachings incorporate diverse spiritual traditions, women's health and healing, and multicultural feminisms, with a special emphasis on the spiritualities and cultures of women of the African Diaspora. An inner-city midwife of over twenty years, Arisika has led healing workshops and ritual celebrations for women for over three decades. She has facilitated embodied spiritual workshops for women and men at Spirit Rock and East Bay Meditation Centers and diversity workshops at various venues across the nation. A core member of the SF Bay Area’s Purple Moon Dance Project, Arisika has performed nationally and internationally as a spiritual dancer for over 30 years, appearing at the National and Women’s Music Festivals, the Juk San International Festival in Korea, and the Women of Power Conference in Sweden. A regular contributor to books and journals, her film credits include the documentary, Alice Walker, Beauty in Truth; Fire Eyes, the first full length feature film by an African woman on female genital cutting; and Who Lives Who Dies a PBS special on health care services to underserved populations.

Alisa Bierria is the Associate Director of the Center for Alisa BierriaRace and Gender at UC Berkeley and a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Stanford University. Her dissertation explores the role of social and political recognition in human agency. She is the recipient of the Diane J. Middlebrook Prize for Graduate Teaching and has years of experience writing, teaching, and organizing on issues of violence and redress. Other research interests include black existentialism, feminist of color theory, speculative theory of the body, and popular culture. She is co-editor of Community Accountability: Emerging Movements to Transform Violence, a special issue of Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order. Her writing can also be found in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy; Journal of Popular Music Studies; Left Turn Magazine; Shout Out: Women of Color Respond To Violence; What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, and the State of the Nation; The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex; Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology; Real Change Newspaper; ColorsNW Magazine; and University of Minnesota: Assembling the Pieces.

Black History Month Dance
9:00 pm-1:00 am, Friday, February 27, 2015, Student Union
The Black Women’s Collective presents their annual Black History Month dance. Attendees will dance the night away to the latest grooves and beats!

Pocketbook Monologues
7:00 pm, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, Student Union
Join the Black Women’s Collective for an intimate, poignant and humorous night of original poetry and prose from the Mills College Black community. Performers will explore their personal identities and relationships to the body through creative pieces. Members of the Black Women’s Collective will perform selected pieces from Sharon McGhee’s “Pocketbook Monologues.” Hailed by many as “The Vagina Monologues with Soul,” The Pocketbook Monologues raises the curtain to talk about the “pocketbook,”—“ the label black women affectionately use to describe the triangle between their thighs.” The Student Union will be transformed into a poetry lounge with coffee, tea, and light pastries. After the Pocketbook Monologues are shared there will be an opportunity for community members to share their personal pieces and narratives. You won’t want to miss this event!

Events are co-sponsored by Ethnic Studies Department, Black Women's Collective, Associated Students of Mills College, Office of Student Activities, and the Diversity and Social Justice Resource Center.

Mills College Heritage Months are supported in part by the Ethnic Studies Fund. To learn about and donate to the Fund, please click here: Ethnic Studies Fund. Many thanks for your generosity in support of Ethnic Studies and students of color at Mills.

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Last Updated: 2/23/15