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December 11, 2017

Best-selling author Roxane Gay talks about modern day feminism at Mount Holyoke College

New York Times best-selling author Roxane Gay gave a lecture at Mount Holyoke College last Thursday discussing issues of race, gender and identity.

She began the event by giving a reading of a few of her short stories from her new book, “Difficult Women.” She read stories about a husband discussing the idea of an open marriage to his wife and a couple moving into a rundown, gated community.

After the reading, Gay discussed the subject of life under a Donald Trump presidency, describing it as “the age of American disgrace.”

“What we are seeing is American racism and misogyny on display,” Gay said.

Gay then retold the story of her experience the day after election night, recalling the amount of shame she felt as she had to face the new American reality and the texts messages she woke up to from her mother telling her that everything will be alright.

She discussed the necessity of resistance to the injustices that have been issued out under President Trump such as the travel ban, the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and the proposed wall on the Mexican border.

However, Gay also mentioned how she must move on from the election and focus on where to go from here. She said that “allyship” is not enough, calling it a comfortable distance from marginalized groups of people.

Gay also addressed the need to talk about the intersectionalities of feminism and why it’s important to discuss the politics of marginalized groups in America.

“My identity is political because so much of what I am is on political discourse,” Gay said.

She spoke in particular to the recent Women’s March on Washington, to which she very openly supported, however also commented on the lack of support from the white female community in response to the killings of unarmed Black people.

At the end of the lecture, audience members were given a chance to have their books signed personally by the author.

“I was really excited,” said Aicha Belabbes, a sophomore English major at Mount Holyoke College. “I read her book over the summer and I love it. I think [it] just captured what I thought and felt.”

Lena Wilson, a Smith College alumna said, “I just think that not only did Dr. Gay’s viewpoints mirror my own, I just felt that she delivered them in a witty way and I really felt I learned something.”

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at abuyinza@umass.edu.

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