Janaya Khan, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter Toronto and international ambassador for the #BlackLivesMatter Network, spoke at Bryn Mawr College on Tuesday, February 2 as part of the college’s celebration of Black History Month.
Khan, known as Future within the Black Lives Matter movement, is a Toronto-based activist, social-justice educator, and boxer. Having graduated from York University with an English Honors degree, Khan has spent the past several years fighting for Black liberation and transfeminism on the academic and social justice circuit, at such universities as Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, and York University. Khan’s work uses insights taken from a background in English to study the way language, metaphor, and democratic discourse can become tools for change.
Khan spoke to the audience gathered in Thomas Great Hall about the way Bryn Mawr students could participate in social activism and gain insight from the Black Lives Matter movement. “Black Lives Matter was our intervention,” Khan said. “What will be yours?”
“On a campus like this, for example, or a place like Canada, or even in your personal life, you’re not going to hit that critical mass. You’re not going to get thousands of people turning out. So you need to ask, where are your critical connections? And where are you, and your friends, and your peers and mentors? Because you might say that you aren’t enough, but all of the change that world has seen has been wrought by a very few people. And that doesn’t just look like shutting things down; it’s looking at the conversations that you’re closing, and the conversations that you’re opening. I can’t do very much with your outrage. Your outrage will die down. But I can do something with your sense of responsibility. I’m not asking you to be fearless; I’m asking you to be courageous.”
Khan’s visit to Bryn Mawr was part of the Black History Month Speaker Series, organized as collaboration between Sisterhood, the Tri-College Chapter of the NAACP, the Enid Cook Center Committee, and the Pensby Center, and was free and open to the public. The first week of the series focuses on gender and sexuality, said Jonetta White ‘16, one of the event's organizers.
“We wanted to focus on the unsung heroes and untold stories of black history” said White.
Past Black History Month presenters have included Nontombi Naomi Tutu, South American educator and social activist, and Marc Lamont Hill, academic, television personality, and native Philadelphian.
For more information about Black History Month, contact Jonetta White at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Pensby Center. For more information about Sisterhood, email email@example.com. For a list of Black History Month events, go here.
~ Emily Schalk '19