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Eighth annual Women's Conference Saturday

March 7, 2013

The eighth annual Women's Conference, to be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 9, in the LSC North Ballroom on the CSU campus, features Akiba Solomon, a blogger and award-winning writer, and Ari Belathar, an exiled Mexican poet and playwright.

Akiba Solomon is a blogger and award-winning writer who has spoken about women's and social justice issues through the lens of hip-hop culture.“We’re most excited and proud that this conference is coordinated by our students; it's so much work and they all have such full schedules already," said Cynarra Tweed, program coordinator for education in the Women and Gender Advocacy Center. “We’ve all worked really hard to deliver a conference that will engage our community to think deeper and more critically around gender and other identities.

“The works of both Akiba and Ari are insightful and very much rooted in a social justice framework. It should be a great day and we really appreciate all the campus support that has gone into making this day happen,” she added.

Several hands-on workshops also are planned as part of the conference.

Writer offers new 'lens'

Solomon is a freelance journalist, editor and essayist, who currently writes for ColorLines' “Gender Matters” blog. She was a senior editor for The Source, where she specialized in politics; the health editor for Essence; the senior editor for Vibe Vixen, a women’s fashion, beauty and lifestyle spin-off of Vibe; and has written for a range of publications, including Glamour, Redbook, Vibe, Heart & Soul, and POZ. She also co-edited “Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts,” an anthology of original essays and memoirs about women and body image.

As a panelist, Solomon has spoken about women’s and social justice issues through the lens of hip-hop culture at several institutions, including The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Stanford University, Yale University, Harvard University and The University of Chicago.

Exiled poet advocates for human rights Ari Belathar, an exiled Mexican poet and playwright, has facilitated several creative writing and theatre workshops for indigenous women and children in Mexico.

Belathar has facilitated numerous creative writing and popular theatre workshops for indigenous women and children throughout Mexico. She is a founding member of the first Mexican community radio station. In 2001, she was kidnapped and tortured by the Mexican National Army for her work as an independent journalist and human rights advocate. Following her escape to Canada, Belathar was a participant in Artscape’s Gibraltar Point International Artists Residency Program, and has published poetry in literary journals and anthologies around the world. She also served as a Writer-in-Residence through PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Program at the University of Windsor.

In 2009, Belathar was appointed as Brandon University’s first Writer-in-Residence, where she published her first collection of poetry in English, “The Cities I Left Behind.” Belathar’s work has been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Belathar is currently working on the development of “La Danza del Venado,” a play based on her personal experience as a child illegally crossing the U.S. border to reunite with her father.

The student-initiated conference is hosted by CSU’s Women and Gender Advocacy Center, and co-sponsored with Housing and Dining Services, Campus Activities, GUIDE, Diversity and Social Justice Programs and the VPSA Parents Fund.