Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chaz Pitts-Kyser, black women, and attention to the details

 I'm fairly sure I saw a school newspaper reporter covering the "Black Girls Rock" event, so I'm assuming we'll have some formal article on Chaz Pitts-Kyser's overall presentation. In the meantime, I wanted to drop a few quick observations.

First, overall,  Kyser gave two informative and important presentations on campus yesterday--one presentation to faculty and staff and another one to a group of roughly 400 to 450 students. She discussed challenges that students face in general, but she primarily concentrated on collegiate black women. Her main topic was "Propelling African American College Women to Academic Success."

She discussed challenges that young sisters face, including conflicts that they have with each other on campus. Notably, she also talked about struggles such as self-esteem, legitimate fears, and in some cases untreated depression that raise the chances that black women collegiate engage in more serious problems once they arrive on college campuses.  Many people I spoke with found Kyser's presentations really helpful.

What stood out to me, though, was the one-on-one interactions that Kyser had with a large number of black women on campus. Before, after, and between her presentations, young sisters kept approaching Kyser to pose questions and ask for advice. The high level of enthusiasm that the sisters displayed when engaging the speaker indicated that we--university workers and student allies--need to do more to put the students in touch with professional women on a regular basis.

For me, that attention to the details--in this case those moments with Kyser interacting with so many students outside the seemingly formal parameters of her presentations--really spoke to the opportunities we have for empowering young women on campus.

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