Ashley CodnerAshley is a sophomore majoring in English with minors in Consumer Psychology and Jazz Music and Popular Culture. Her research centers around examining the link between black artistic production and lived experience by studying the ways in which black authors incorporate musical thematics and structures into their writing. The project is driven by a desire to examine how black artists, out of necessity, create new mediums through which to work in and what it is about these newly formed channels that make them so effective. She focuses on three self-identified seminal moments in African American history: the blues era, the Black Arts Movement, and the modern hip hop age, mapping their genealogical and historical connection in order to investigate how lingual adaptation has given the black community a dialect with which to conceptualize its idealized overcoming into a reality. Ashley currently serves as Secretary for the Penn chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Creative Co-Director for the Caribbean American Students Association, as well as being a member of Penn Women's Club Soccer.
Imani Davis is a junior 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.
Sophiais a senior majoring in Sociology and Africana Studies. Her research centers onthe racial navigation of modern entrepreneurial tourism in Cuba with a focus onAfro-Cubans. Her most recent project uses in-depth interviews and participantobservation to explore the impact of race on access to and success within Cuba'scasa particular economy. The project takes a sociological approachto work towards determining the possibilities of the casa particular as anoption for black Cubans who wish to gain its economic and mobility-centeredbenefits, as well as understanding the racial mentality of those who alreadyoccupy a place within the rapidly changing subeconomy. Though the immediateimplications of the project are confined to the uniquely affected economywithin Cuba's national borders, Sophia intends to use her understanding of thefunctions of racial identity in Cuba's social and economic spheres tocontribute more broadly to the body of knowledge encompassing moretransnational understandings of the relationship between identity, the economy,and the state. Sophia is a 2019-2020 Undergraduate Grant Recipient of theAndrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, serves as Director of TheInspiration, 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.
Misha is a sophomore studying English, Africana Studies,and French. Her research centers around young black female narratives in African-American literature written post-1970 by black female authors.Currently, she is exploring the idea of violence and trauma operating as an inherited aspect of the young black female experience in the United States. Questions she seeks to answer are how do these narratives reflect American society's understanding of young black female lives and experiences, what conscious or subconscious expectations are revealed of the young black female, and in what ways (if any) are black female writers complicit in solidifying or reinforcing these understandings or expectations. At her time at Penn, Misha has been involved with the Theater Groups Nataak, Quadramics, and the African American Arts Alliance (4A). She also is a member of the English Undergraduate Advisory Board (UAB) and works as a House Office Staffer at Harrison College House.
Ángel is a junior studying Sociology. His research aims to create a comprehensive profile of the socioeconomic position of Puerto Ricans in the U.S., with a focus on the relationship between economic structures, poverty, and social mobility. Ángel intends to combine his research with previous experiences in microfinance and management consulting to propose effective policy solutions to empower poor communities of color. His previous research on the impact of marijuana legalization on minority populations has been presented at the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Ángel's work has also been featured on the opinion editorials section of El Nuevo Día, one of the major newspapers in Puerto Rico. He is a leading member of the Puerto Rican Institute of Music, where he plays Latin percussion instruments and imparts seminars on Puerto Rican music. Ángel has mentored and tutored low-income Latinx students in Philadelphia, PA and Waltham, MA. He also served as Loan Director of the Bentley University Microfinance Group.
Seyi Osundeko is a junior studying English and Africana Studies.Her research centers around the conceptualization of blackness in Nigerianyouth. Focusing on second-generation immigrants to England and theircontemporaries in Ibadan, she is studying the sources of identity formation andexpression in those born between 1990 and 1999. Using racial theory,contemporary Nigerian literature, and ethnographic study of both groups, shehopes to navigate the relationship between cultural contexts and foreigninfluence, as well as the effect of globalization on her own generation. Seyiis a member of the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir, a Rodin Opera Singer, andthe Internal Affairs Chair of the Students Organized for Unity andLiberation.