Why Exeter University FemSoc's Women of Colour Poetry Night was important
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Exeter University students held a third Women of Colour Poetry Night in early March, a project that was a result of collaboration between the Feminist Society, Creative Writing Society and African-Caribbean Society.
Candace Bansair reading from Morgan Parker. Image: Chelsea Lee Photography.
The event, a student led project by Exeter University's Feminist society, became the subject of heated controversy, as the university's anonymous opinion Facebook page, Exehonestly, blew up with comments criticising both the event and FemSoc for excluding other voices - particularly those that were white and male. Whilst many rallied in support of WOC Poetry Night, some individuals felt that the evening represented exclusivity and hostility, and openly expressed their disapproval. Within the wider context of the University, these comments are not an isolated occurrence. Exeter University’s Debating Society recently invited Katie Hopkins to a panel debate despite widespread disapproval of her public sexism, racism and Islamophobia. Exeter University’s Bracton Law Society, now disbanded, was under national scrutiny for racist and sexist remarks made by committee members in 2018. FemSoc underlined that the event was open to all audiences and encouraged diverse attendance. As an under-represented minority, particularly within the English Literature canon, women of colour offer a unique, intersectional perspective of the world and its challenges. There was resounding support for these experiences; the night was fully-booked. The experiences shared were transnational, diverse and most importantly, spoke the truth of the pains as well as the pride of identifying as a woman of colour.
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