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On America

On America: Black Women on Feminism and Pop Culture with Sesali Bowen, Zeba Blay, and Shayla Lawson

November 9, 2021 via Zoom

What can mainstream feminism learn from game-changing Black women like Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B? Entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen and film and culture critic Zeba Blay joined us to discuss a new, inclusive feminism that celebrates Black female identity. Bowen’s debut memoir, Bad Fat Black Girl, interrogates sexism, fatphobia, and capitalism through personal and cultural commentary. Blay’s collection of essays Carefree Black Girls contributes to this conversation, examining the strength and fortitude of Black women in American culture. Joined by Shayla Lawson (This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope), the two explored their work in this installment of our On America series.

In Conversation

  • Zeba Blay_Sylvie Rosokoff 2 - William Lyman

    Zeba Blay

    Zeba Blay

    Zeba Blay is a film and culture critic who has contributed to publications including the New York Times, the Village Voice, ESSENCE, Shadow and Act, Film Quarterly, and Indiewire. Formerly Senior Culture Writer at HuffPost, Blay has spent her nearly decade-long career writing about pop culture at the intersection of race, gender, and identity. Born in Accra, Ghana she is based in the New York City area.

    Photo Credit: Sylvie Rosokoff

  • Sesali Bowen Author Photo_Nailah Fumilayo Davis - William Lyman

    Sesali Bowen

    Sesali Bowen

    Sesali Bowen is a writer who curates events, writes for film and television, and creates elevated pop culture correspondence. Bowen is the former Senior Entertainment Editor at NYLON magazine and Senior Entertainment Writer at Refinery29. Focusing on Black pop culture, she helped launch Unbothered, R29’s sub brand for Black women. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and Feministing. Bowen lives in New Jersey.

    Photo Credit: Nailah Fumilayo Davis

  • Shayla Lawson Author Photo

    Shayla Lawson

    Shayla Lawson

    Shayla Lawson is the author of This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope (Harper Perennial, 2020) and three poetry collections: I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean, A Speed Education in Human Being, and PANTONE.

    She has also recently appeared on OPB with Tiffany Camhi, NPR’s Live Wire Radio broadcast, The Special Report with Areva Martin, Salon Talks with D. Watkins, The True Romance Podcast, at The Center for Fiction with 2 Dope Queens’ Phoebe Robinson, Storybound by LitHub, at The Strand with Ashley C. Ford, Memoir Monday, and the Tanz Im August Art Festival in Berlin, Germany.

    She is a regular columnist at Bustle magazine and has written for ESPN, Guernica, Vulture, New York, and the Cut. Shayla is a MacDowell and Yaddo Artist Colony Fellow and a 2020 National Book Critics Circle Finalist.

    Photo Credit: Nicholas Nichols