Feminista Jones discusses diversity and activism at MSG Speaker Series


Victoria McGinty, Managing editor

Mercyhurst is an institution like no other because we are granted countless opportunities and experiences. The MSG Speaker Series is one such event. This collection is different from other on-campus experiences because it is the opportunity for students to listen to influential people with successful backgrounds. The most recent to join the list of esteemed figures invited to campus is educator, writer, public speaker, activism professor and former social worker Feminista Jones. Her work and career is centered around diversity and inclusion which are two critical things that constantly need to be addressed in our environment today. A Ph.D. student and educator at Temple University, Jones first gained attention with her critically acclaimed novel “Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets.” Since this novel, she has been published across major publications such as the New York Times Essence and the Washington Post just to name a few. Since 2013, Jones has been hosting lectures at campuses across the country and this week Mercyhurst joined that list. On Monday, Nov. 14, Jones was welcomed to the Walker Re-cital Hall where students had the opportunity to hear her speak. While with the Lakers, she opened up about her upbringing and the many challenges she faced along the way to becoming who she is now. Born into poverty, living with a single, LGBTQ parent in an ultra Christian family was not easy but despite all odds, Jones overcame a lot. Her mother valued education and ensured that she learned to read at an early age. As a gifted student, Jones was able to attend private school in Manhattan and later boarding school. Her love for activism began at the age of 19. While Jones began her career in social work, she recognized many injustices in this work and decided to change her career around to focus even more on social change and activism. Jones discussed the good and bad sides of diversity and inclusion’s place in America and why things need to change. “Sometimes we get the wrong idea of what it means to be a diverse community,” said Jones. “It is about honoring and recognizing differences, not ignoring them.” She also encouraged students that being young and having a voice is the first step to a cultural revolution and reset. While our country is very divided today it is important to recognize that today’s university-aged students have the power to create waves of change. Jones spoke about the various injustices that persons-of-color and feminine-identifying persons face daily and why it is important to address those issues as well. “Anti-feminist rhetoric has been increasing and this is assumed to be aligned with women having more educational degrees than men in the last forty years,” said Jones. “Additionally, exploitation of labor of persons of color and poor people is the basis of the U.S. economy and it is disgraceful.” Jones’ topic of conversation, while heavy, is very important. Such issues are not often discussed as openly as they should be and Jones is just one of many activists who are passionate about seeing positive changes in our nation. “She was very inspiring and after her lecture I felt like I had the ability to do whatever I can to make change possible,” said Mat-ti Trimbath, sophomore English major. “She was very passionate and her lecture was unlike anything I have ever heard before. It was truly incredible.”If you missed Feminista Jones’ presentation and are interested in learning more about her work, follow her on Instagram @Fem-inistajones or visit her website at www.feministajones.com.