‘Style, politics, and black women at SIUE’ highlights Black fashion and culture

‘Style, politics, and black women at SIUE,’ a project initiated by SIUE’s Black Studies Program, hosted a “mixed media” exhibit Oct. 26-27 to address style issues and the politics of fashion as they relate to black women at SIUE.

Photo provided by Howard Rambsy.

The exhibit, which was displayed in the Eugene B. Redmond Reading Room at Lovejoy Library, featured photographs and audio clips of “fashion-forward” black women (students) from SIUE. The women talked about a variety of fashion expressions including: hair, clothing, shoes and fingernails.

Howard Rambsy, chair of black studies and associate professor of English language and literature, was pleased with the response that the exhibit received.

“The event went really well,” Rambsy said. “We had about 85 people turn out over the course of two days and we had a lot of positive feedback.”

The presentation is part of an ongoing effort by Rambsy and the Black Studies Program to draw attention to the ways—verbally and nonverbally—that black students communicate their cultural ideas and beliefs on campus.

“There was a lot of discussion of fashion choices and people talked a lot about their hair and what it meant to them,” said Rambsy.

Events that highlight and celebrate a minority group—black women make up less than 8 percent of SIUE’s student body—are especially important not only for members of that group but for academic institutions as a whole.

“It’s important that we have these sorts of regular, recurring events because it gives people possibilities—outside of the classroom—for learning.” Rambsy said. “We focus on African American ideas and culture and that’s important because there’s very little of that in formal classroom settings and outside of those settings. We need scholarly, intellectual things that focus on and privilege African American ideas and people; it’s crucial that we have those kinds of projects.”

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