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What does homecoming mean to you? For some, it signifies an American tradition of a semi-formal dance following a football game. For some, it’s the emotions associated with the complex matter of family or lack thereof. For others, it’s just an awesome Kanye West song. For me personally, it means returning to the temporary small-town charm of Bethany, Connecticut. Homecoming means miles of wooded landscapes and hills, the crisp chill of oncoming winter, and driving past the places I drove past millions of times during high school, the sweet tinge of nostalgia heavy in the air.
This year, for first-years taking the Fall 2019 Writing 101 courses, a course called “Black Feminism in Pop Culture” was offered. The course explores topics such as intersectionality, how black women continue to be marginalized today, popular cultural movements like #Blackgirlmagic, and more. What is interesting about this course is that a white woman, Jessica Covil, is teaching this class, which analyzes historical and current issues of race and inequality through a black feminist lens. To understand more about the dynamics of a white woman teaching this course, I contacted Jessica Covil to ask her a few questions about her perspective on teaching and advocating for black feminism.
Hookup culture dominates the social scene of American college campuses today, including Duke. Although most people reading this are probably familiar with the term, it is defined as a culture “that accepts and encourages casual sex encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment.”
Within the US, health insurance coverage of abortion can be a sticky topic. Within universities in the US and their respective student health insurance plans, it can be even stickier. And that is precisely why I set out to investigate the reality of this situation here at Duke. If a woman student looking to terminate her pregnancy needed more information about abortion coverage, where would she go?
For my history class, I was assigned to read a chapter from “Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic,” written by Jeanne Boydston, an American historian. And as I settled into a couch at Lilly, sipping my fifth cup of coffee that day, I read the lines that Boydston wrote about women in the 19th century, about how they were glorified into a domestic sphere and romanticized as a “bright and central orb, whose genial light kindles with soft and heavenly radiance upon the scene of loveliness which invites him to rest.” Ugh. But as I continued to study the words of Boydston, I became increasingly aware and unsettled that these lines resonated something within me, stirring up whispers of past memories and experiences within my own life, that only confirmed the ever present influence of social gender spheres today. Boydston wrote this article about the 1800s, a time, in my mind, that seemed irrelevant to my everyday life with its antiquated social customs and norms. So why did I relate to the idea of the women she portrayed: painted with an inherent grace, a comforting touch, a haven of solace at the end of a long day?
Throughout my life, I have grown up under the influence of Islam. Well...kinda. My mom is Muslim, but because my dad is Hindu, I have never been completely immersed within the strict rules of the former religion, like praying five times a day or fasting for the entire month of Ramadan. Despite this, when I was younger, my sisters and I would accompany my mom to a large mosque in Queens, where I would sit quietly, tracing patterns in the carpet, while a voice would boom over my head in a language I didn’t understand. It was fine, for a seven-year-old who didn’t have much else to do and recognized that many other kids around her also spent time in church or temple. But as I grew older and began to resist these trips, my mom continued to enforce these ideas of how religion was an integral part of our identity and how it was necessary to thank God for what we had given.
Upon returning from my family trip to Cancun, I curled up in my bed, the slight grime of the airport still sticking to my skin, my body weary from the day of travel. Despite this, I felt good, relaxed from the trip and feeling the slight warmth of sunburn (for the first time!) on my cheeks and shoulders. That is, until I grabbed my computer and checked DukeHub for the first time in over a week.