Janaya Khan

Celebrating the 23rd annual Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium, Janaya Khan, International Ambassador for the #BlackLivesMatter Network, will speak on “Demanding Social Transformation, Justice, and Equality for All” at 1 p.m. April 20 in the Prairie Room at the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University.

The talk is part of the Illinois State University Speaker Series and is sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and University Events. The event is free and open to the public.

Khan is a black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist, Afro-futurist and social justice educator.

They currently serve as executive director of Gender Justice LA, a grassroots multi-racial coalition of transgender people and allies.

Assistant Director of Media Relations Rachel Hatch said the Symposium allows for undergraduate and graduate students to present papers, presentations, performances which they have done throughout the year.

“It gives them an opportunity to present their work in a professional symposium. Everything highlights the study of women, gender and their intersections, along with race, sexuality and ability and the concepts of colonization as well,” Hatch said. “Intersectionality talks about how this is in between race and gender, we’re not talking about how this is an issue for just a woman or an issue for a transgender [person].

“It’s how that transgender person is perceived in society, what their class is in society, what their ability is in society, what their level of acceptance is. It’s not just looking race or gender but how a lot of these come together and express themselves through identity,” she added.

Hatch said Khan was chosen due to their work in the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as their activism for issues pertaining to women, black women and queer women.

“[Khan] combined all of these things but works towards social justice, so [they are] educating people about how all of these things impact people in our society,” Hatch explained. “It’s a very timely choice of a speaker to comment and talk about all these things that are going on in society and the world. Also, it’s about how we’re confronting them, how we’re exploring and talking about them.”

For more information, visit IllinoisState.edu/president/speaker-series/.

ANDREW DOUGHERTY is a senior news reporter for The Vidette. Contact him at vidette_addough@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @addough

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