Dr. Carmen Kynard, Ph.D., an associate professor of English and gender studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (CUNY) gave a talk at the Dimenna Nyselius Library. On Thursday, Oct. 25, Kynard presented “#IfTheyGunnedMeDown What Black Girl Would They See: Critical Race Counter-Narratives on the Violence of Language, Literacy, and Schooling.” The room was filled with students and community members alike, all intently listening to Kynard’s speech on critical race theory.
Kynard broke critical race theory down into four categories that she discussed throughout her lecture: afro-futurist feminism and new geographies of literacy, racial realism, afro-pessimism and intersectional black feminist technology studies.
She then broke it down further through the use of different narratives that explain and implement many of the theories about race she talks about. Using a detailed multimedia presentation, Kynard explained the role of the Black Lives Matter movement in her classroom, and other ideas such as black social death.
She also stressed the role of literacy narrative in the past and future of African American youth. Kynard emphasized the importance of black writers and black characters for black readers. She touched on the power it has for black Americans to see themselves in a positive rather than a negative media and narrative portrayal. Kynard not only talks about what it means to be African American, but what it means to be black and a woman and what it means to be black and a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Kynard is also an associate professor of English, urban education and critical psychology at CUNY’s Graduate Center. A graduate of Stanford University, Kynard received her Ph.D. from New York University. Her credentials are extensive, including being published in major publications such as The Harvard Educational Review, and writing her own book which has received many awards. In particular, Kynard touched on the shooting of Trayvon Martin and how it still resonates within the African American community years later.
Fairfield students responded positively to Kynard’s presentation.
Sophomore Luckario Alcide said, “The Black Lives Matter movement and other movements like it definitely draw me in. Watching this presentation kept me interested in this topic.”
Alcide was one of the many students present during Kynard’s lecture, which was almost completely full.
During the Q&A held at the end of the session, Yann Konan ‘20 asked Kynard, “How does this relate to the story of Emmett Till?”
Kynard responded, “In my classes, Trayvon Martin is young people’s Emmett Till. It has the same – I don’t want to say the same because history is never the same, but it is the same in terms of it triggered a movement. It is that same kind of trajectory.”
By implementing creative projects, Kynard not only teaches students what it means to be African American in our country today, but uses her classrooms as part of important research in her field.