“It Is My Duty To Stand For Truth”: Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy on the state of Black feminism
Photo: Sabree Hill/Dillard University
Title: “It Is My Duty To Stand For Truth”: Dr. Saloy On The State of Black Feminism
Author: Lauren R.D. Fox, Communications Specialist
University Photographer: Sabree Hill
Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy is an award-winning author, folklorist, educator, and scholar of Creole culture. Dr. Saloy has documented Creole culture in sidewalk songs, jump-rope rhymes, and clap-hand games to discuss the importance of play. Her first book, Red Beans & Ricely Yours, won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Her collection of poems, Second Line Home, captures day-to-day New Orleans speech, family dynamics and gives insight into the unique culture the world loves. This fall Dr. Saloy was named an editorial reviewer for Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, a peer-reviewed journal. She also accepted a similar role in the Editorial Board and Review Team for Social Sciences, a peer-reviewed academic journal. In an interview with the Office of Communications and Marketing, Dr. Saloy discusses Black feminism and how the public/media perceives it in the height of Election Season.
Dillard University (DU): You recently accepted the invitation to be an editorial reviewer for Meridian, an academic journal that explores contemporary feminism. What are your thoughts about the state of feminism during the Election season?
Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy (MS): Meridian also features issues of race and transnationalism. Feminism like Black lives is in need; women are historically paid less than men for the same work, and often, we work harder to achieve in the academy, business and in life. The glass ceiling still reigns for women.
DU: In literature, characters are shaped by their environment, culture, and experiences. How does the media shape the archetypes of Democratic Vice President Candidate Kamala Harris versus recently appointed Supreme Court Amy Coney Barret?
MS: Certainly, it is a mixed bag for both; on the one hand, some media [outlets] celebrate Kamala Harris for all she has achieved; on the other hand, she is attacked even when she is correct! As for Amy Coney Barret, again a mixed approach, some just love her, and others are skeptical. On social media, Jericho Brown tweeted today (October 12): "What’s supposed to happen at these hearings if you don’t have to answer anything?" America must stay tuned.
DU: Rapper Megan Thee Stallion wrote an op-ed for The New York Times on why protecting Black women should not be a controversial statement or movement. Insecure producer/actress Issa Rae shared similar sentiments in her Bustle interview that Breonna Taylor shouldn't have died or been blamed for previously dating a man engaged in criminal activity. What are your thoughts about violence and victim blaming against Black women in this current climate?
MS: The reality is that women are under assault most of their lives, historical fact, but Black women are killed more. Assault is wrong. Killing is wrong. Why is the victim to blame?
DU: How do you train and challenge your Dillard students to be feminists in their professional and personal lives?
MS: I train my students to be considerate, factual, thoughtful, and moral young women and men. I hope that they do not assume much in this life because everyone deserves a fair shake before any conclusions can be made.
DU: What does it mean to be a feminist in New Orleans?
MS: As a person born and raised in the Crescent City, as an author, folklorist, educator, and scholar, it is my duty to stand for truth. It is my honor to showcase the great women of the Arts & Letters on whose shoulders I stand, and to encourage this generation to be brave in the face of adversity, to honor the legacy of steadfast strength of our ancestors, and to be a light for tomorrow; they are the future. Our ancestors are counting on them; Dillard University is counting on them to make a better world, and I can assist however I can and let them know that I, too, am counting on them.