Wed, Jan 27, 2021

1 PM – 2 PM EST (GMT-5)

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Colorism is the discrimination in which people part of the same race are
treated differently based on their skin complexion, particularly darker skin tones. Colorism has been seen at play in various communities across the world. It is deeply rooted in communities and the way they operate and interact. In this panel we will discuss how Colorism plays a significant role in communities in Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia.

Thiago de Souza Amparo | Professor at FGV Direito SP & FGV International Relations School and Lawyer
Christina Dhanaraj | Writer, and Advisor for Smashboard
Hyein Amber Kim, Ph.D. | Clinical Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo
Melody Capote | Executive Director for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
Sokona Diallo | Activist | Artist | Social Impact Consultant

Thiago de Souza Amparo is a professor at FGV Direito SP and FGV International Relations School, teaching courses on human rights, international law, diversity and discrimination policies and law. He is a lawyer, with a bachelor's degree from PUC-SP, a master's degree in human rights (LLM) from the Central European University and a PhD from the same university. He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University (New York - United States). He is an expert in constitutional law, public policy as well as diversity and antidiscrimination law. He was a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Open Society Foundations, among others, on the issue of racial and LGBT discrimination. He was deputy secretary of human rights and citizenship at the São Paulo City Hall between January and May 2017. He writes weekly for the main newspaper in Brazil, Folha de S. Paulo.

Christina Dhanaraj is a writer with 12+ years of corporate work experience in India, Singapore, China, the United States, and the Netherlands. She is a consultant for women and minority-led initiatives focusing on social justice, self-determination, and collaborative models of scholarship. She is currently an advisor for Smashboard and The Blue Club’s Media Fellowship for Dalit women. She was the co-founder of the Dalit History Month project and a volunteer for Dalit Women Fight. Her interests lie in the politics of identity, diversity & inclusion, mental health, and intersectional discourses between caste, gender, religion, race, and sexuality. She is based out of New York City. She tweets @caselchris1

Hyein Amber Kim is a Clinical Assistant professor and Director of the Korean program at the University at Buffalo, where she teaches Korean language and Korean culture courses. Hyein completed her Ph.D. in Multicultural Education at the University of Washington
for her dissertation, “Biracial Identity Development: Narratives of Biracial Korean American University Students in Heritage Language Classes.”

Hyein’s research interests lie in the area of race, identities, intersectionality, and language learning, ranging from theory to instruction. In addition to teaching and research, Hyein is managing a project on Korean culture, with the support from the Korean Education Center of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York.

Hyein lives with her husband and 6-month old son, and hopes to rescue a pitbull in the near future. Prior to the pandemic, Hyein loved foodie adventures, traveling, and going thrift shopping.

Melody Capote was named as the Executive Director of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.

For over thirty of the forty-two years that CCCADI has been in existence, Ms. Capote had worked alongside the founder Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, first as a development associate and later as deputy director. She has been instrumental in developing CCCADI into one of the world’s most vital institutions for the preservation of African Diaspora culture, positioned within a lens of social justice. Ms. Capote’s experience and commitment to CCCADI makes her uniquely qualified for this position as she prepares to usher in a new chapter in the organization's evolution.

Throughout her tenure at CCCADI, Ms. Capote has been responsible for highly successful programs that align with the organization’s mission to develop and nurture future cultural leaders of color. She was at the helm of such significant historic and memorable CCCADI productions as The Annual Latin/Tropical Music Collectors’ Festival, Trade/itions: An Orisha Performance & Panel Series and, Yoruba Remixed: A Musical Tribute to Marta Moreno Vega, and has established wonderful partnerships with Aaron Davis Hall, Hostos Center for the Performing Arts, The Apollo and Lincoln Center through its MidSummer Night’s Swing and Lincoln Center Out of Doors programs, to name a few. With her innate generosity of spirit, Ms. Capote is a reflection of the institute’s commitment to unifying members of the African Diaspora communities across the world.

Having been involved in every aspect of the organization's operations, Melody brings invaluable institutional memory that supports the projects she works on. Her choices are informed by her professional experiences of building lasting relationships within the local East Harlem community, and the city at large, as the Director of External Affairs. Her vast network of contacts within city and state government, institutional funders, and throughout the nonprofit arts and culture communities has raised the organization’s visibility citywide and enabled her to raise funds for the Center's diverse programming such as the annual Loiza Festival and the Dance of the White Dress. As a critical force in helping the organization move to its current home at the 125th Street Firehouse in East Harlem, Ms. Capote sees CCCADI as more than an institute. For her, the organization is a singular and much needed community-based space that encourages and welcomes members of the African Diaspora communities to tell their stories openly, accurately and with great pride.

As she steps into her new role, Melody has already taken on the task of leading CCCADI in new directions that remain rooted in CCCADI’s history as a trailblazer in the use of arts and culture as tools for social justice​ and cultural affirmation. During the pandemics of Covid19 and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Ms. Capote implemented the #ArtsGoBlack initiative that challenged the arts and culture organizations of New York City to explore and address the racist practices of their organization, boards of directors, staff and programs. This campaign birthed the CCCADI Institute for Racial and Social Justice for Arts & Culture intended to advocate for an arts and culture ecosystem that is grounded in racial and social justice and cultural equity that includes a series of anti-racism webinars for executives of arts organizations.

Her recent re-imagining of the ​landmark East Harlem Loiza ​Festival into the Descarga Music Fest speaks to her commitment to the long-standing residents of El Barrio while recognizing the changing demographics of the East Harlem community. It is a prime example of her creative and forward thinking vision that while the Descarga Music Fest will continue to celebrate Afro-Puerto Ricans’ bond with New York City as the Loiza Festival once did, it will now expand to showcase the powerful connection among people of Caribbean, Latinx, and African descent.​ The exhibitions in the galleries will continue to exemplify and support her and the Center's continued commitment to highlighting the diversity and common threads shared by people of the African Diaspora. Beyond this, and under her stewardship, CCCADI is poised to reaffirm the organization’s role as the thought leader on African diaspora programming. She, along with the board and staff, are taking the time to re-envision and implement the program, community engagement​ and business development initiatives intended to propel CCCADI into its next phase. Ultimately, these efforts will launch CCCADI boldly into the future.

Alongside her valued history with the organization, we want to note that Melody is a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent who​ was born and raised in​ the historic neighborhood of​ ​El Barrio. ​Therefore, ​she has a vested interest in the livelihood of the local community. ​Her training and background in dance have always fueled her work with artists and has grounded her belief in the power of the arts and culture to unite and bring people together. With this recent appointment CCCADI’s mandate to stand against the forces of gentrification that seeks to displace countless people who embody the fabric of the East Harlem community and erase the contributions of the African Diaspora across the world becomes even more critical. Her work embodies the ethos of CCCADI as she is rooted in the local community and harnesses her power and impact globally.

CCCADI is comprised of a committed team of members, artists, donors, volunteers, scholars, and staff members who work tirelessly to ensure the Center’s future. Under Melody’s direction, their work will remain connected in the institution’s legacy while reaching new heights and expanding audiences and constituents.

Melody acknowledges the recent transition of her life partner and husband Heriberto in January 2020, and is the proud mother to Jovan, Kailani and her bonus child, Erienne. Additionally, she enjoys the pleasures of being Mama to her grandbabies, Isabella and Julien.

Sokona Diallo was born and raised in Mali, West Africa and is energized by social justice in all forms, whether it’s through community organizing, social impacts, or the arts. As a fervent advocate for restorative justice and collective action, she is interested in what it means to build equitable and inclusive communities. She is curious to learn how we can create the possibility for transformational change through sharing our stories, cultures, and sense of humanity.

As part of this exploration, she previously conducted an ethnographic research on the practice of skin bleaching in Sub-Saharan Africa, its colonial roots, and intersection with identity, gender and class.

Hosted By

SIPA Students of Color | Website | View More Events
Co-hosted with: SIPA DEICE Committee

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