On Thursday, July 9th we held a discussion panel on Zoom for our 2020-21 Polish grantees focused on the current Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S.
The goal of this meeting was to situate the protests within the history of systemic racism, the criminal justice system, and an everyday devaluation of black lives. Our Fulbright panelists: Christine Obiesie, Rachel Merrill Moss, Dr. Marta Werbanowska and Dr. Aleksandra Szaniawska discussed how systemic inequalities have historically impacted black people, as well as addressed ways in which the current COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. Apart from participating in the online discussion, the panelists had cooperated on preparing a document for 2020-21 Polish grantees with numerous resources that contextualize current protests within the history of racial inequalities in the U.S.
This panel was a chance for our incoming Polish grantees who will soon be departing to the U.S. to learn more about the contemporary rifts that continue to permeate American society.
Short bios of our panelists:
Christine Obiesie was a 2018-2019 Fulbright grantee to Poland. She spent her time teaching English in the Biology and Chemistry Department at the University of Białystok. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas, teaching and working with elementary and high school students.
Rachel Merrill Moss is a PhD Candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama at Northwestern University and 2018-2019 Fulbright Grantee to Poland. Her dissertation examines performances of Jewishness in Poland over the past century as they relate to changing politics and memory work over that period. She is co-editor of the forthcoming collection, The Dybbuk Century: The Jewish Play that Possessed the World, and has presented work at the Association for Jewish Studies, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, American Society for Theatre Research, and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.
Dr. Marta Werbanowska is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Humanities and Economics in Łódź and an instructor at the University of Warsaw’s American Studies Center. She obtained her Ph.D. from Howard University in 2019. Her research and teaching interests center on African American literature, contemporary poetry, ecocriticism, and Black studies. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte in 2014-15.
Dr. Aleksandra Szaniawska is a Fulbright Poland staff member. She received her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo (2017). Her areas of expertise include African American and Diasporic literature, culture and history, Black Performance Studies, (Post)colonial Studies and Black Feminist and Queer of Color theory and praxis.