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The Scarlet & Black

Professor Kesho Scott to present first PubTalk of the semester

By Emma Schaefer
schaefer2@grinnell.edu

Professor Kesho Scott, sociology and American studies, will be giving the first in a series of PubTalks, hosted by GUAC in Lyle’s Pub. Photo contributed by Professor Kesho Scott.

In her upcoming PubTalk in Lyle’s Underground, Professor Kesho Scott, sociology and American studies, hopes to shed light on the Black Holocaust and the stories that have been buried for hundreds of years. This past summer, she travelled to West Africa and visited the sites of dungeons where abducted Africans were forcibly held.

One of Scott’s hopes for the talk, she says, is “for us to take more responsibility for the impact of this world-wide and global institution that made people of African descent diasporic people … and then maybe that can better inform, at least on a moral and emotional level, why conversations of reparations will happen,”

Scott believes that it is important to enlighten people on this subject since the general public are more socially prepared to understand the Jewish Holocaust and the Indigenous Holocaust in the Americas than they are the Black Holocaust.

The PubTalks event series strives to create an accessible environment where students can talk with professors about complex topics outside of a classroom environment. Ashton Aveling ’22, an organizer for the series, said, “It’s important [for students] to have that ability to communicate with professors about things that they care about.”

The talks begin with the presenter speaking for around half an hour on their topic, followed by a discussion phase devoted to people sharing their thoughts on the topic.

PubTalks asks professors to share a topic that they care deeply about and wish they could communicate in class but haven’t had the chance to, while student organizers work with them to develop their idea and facilitate the conversation at the talk.

Aveling explained that the presenters are not limited to professors, saying, “We’d like to have alums, college staff, and even students talk about things they care about in that kind of informal, discussion-based environment.” This semester, there will be six PubTalks in Lyle’s.

In her talk, Scott plans to share her recent experience of visiting the dungeons in West Africa as a way to introduce people to the concept of the Black Holocaust.

She said, “I think my talk is more of a personal reflection of connecting to that history as a descendent of one of those slaves that left the door of no return. They had several doors, several dungeons, and there were dungeons where enslaved people were expected to die. I’m not a descendent of one of those. I am a descendent of one who survived.”

Scott hopes that her talk will make attendees more aware of the parts of the history of slavery that have been told and the parts of it that have been left out. She said, “We only tell the story of slavery in America, but what about the impact of having large chunks of your population taken?”

Scott’s PubTalk will be this Wednesday, September 18th, at 7:15 p.m. in Lyle’s Pub, in the basement of the JRC.

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