Current Fellows

Kelsey Desir

Kelsey Desir 

Kelsey is a senior English major and Africana Studies minor with a certificate in French. Her senior capstone project, "Deconstructing Controlling Images: Empathizing with the Strong Black Woman," is centered on the representation of the function and history of the Strong Black Woman (SBW) trope in expressive culture. This is a cultural studies project that incorporates Black feminist theories and literary analyses. She primarily uses African-American literature, novels, poems, and short stories, written by Black women from 1973-1995 to examine the approaches used to reclaim Black women's ideological bodies after centuries of deliberate misrepresentation. A primary aim of this project is to examine the historical and sociological implications that affect Black women's relationship with the SBW trope as they work toward achieving self-definition.  

Sophia Lindner

Kassidi Jones

Kassidi is a senior majoring in Africana Studies and English.  Her research focuses on poetry written by black women in America during Reconstruction, from 1866 to 1877.   She is working on identifying black feminist themes as defined by mainstream scholars in the late 20th century, such as Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde, and hoping to connect black women's creative literary works in the late 19th century to the framework constructed by women in the next century.  Her intention is to create an analysis similar to Angela Davis' work in Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, using poetry instead of the blues to ascribe black feminism to black women who predate "black feminism" as a term..  Kassidi currently serves as the President of the Excelano Project, Penn's premier spoken word poetry group, President of Penn's chapter of the NAACP, Chair of the Undergraduate Advisory Board for the Center for Africana Studies, and is a Program Coordinator for Sister Sister, a support group for black women on campus.



Amari Mitchell

Amari Mitchell

Amari is a senior majoring in Africana Studies and English.  Her research centers on the period immediately following the decision of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka and looks at the experience of African Americans in racially integrated schools.  She plans to explore how these schools prepared or didn't prepare for the arrival of black students.

Sophia Lindner

Imani Davis 

Imani Davis is a sophomore majoring in English and Africana Studies. Her research focuses on closely reading how emotional intimacy and vulnerability surface int he poetry of queer Black women and femmes of the long 1980s. In texts like those of Audre Lorde and June Jordan, they work to unpack moments wherein these queer Black figures use personal narratives as entrances into larger conversations about sexuality and existence within marginal Blackness. This project pursues a deeper understanding of what queer Black folks stood to gainor lose by politicizing their intimacy in a post-Black Power era. The research also seeks to parse through the parallels between the Black community at large using personal stories to humanize themselves under the white gaze, and queer Black women and femmes using this same strategy to earn respect from the cisheterosexual sector of Black America. Imani serves as a Board Member of Penn Queer People of Color, Member of the Undergraduate Advisory Board for the Centerfor Africana Studies, Co-Director of the Excelano Project, Penn's premier spoken word poetry group, and Editor for The Vision, Penn's Black news publication. 

Sophia Lindner

Sophia Lindner 

Sophia is a sophomore majoring in Africana Studies and Sociology. Her research centers on the late social effects of the United States embargo against Cuba on manifestations of Cuban colorism from 1961-2017. Her work focuses on the dissection of modern displays of skin tone hierarchy as alegacy of Spanish colonialism in Cuba through the lens of beauty pageantry, and looks at the subscriptions to this hierarchy from members of the pageant communities and audiences. She intends to use her understanding of Cuba's reinforcements of colorism throughout its isolation period to inform the greater body of knowledge encompassing colorism in Latin America and the United States.  Sophia currently serves as Director of The Inspiration, an a cappella group that focuses on music of the African Diaspora, and is a member of Onda Latina, Penn's premier Latin dance troupe.