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Livingstone College professor, author invited to prestigious institute

Livingstone College

SALISBURY — Da’Tarvia Parrish, a recent children’s book author and professor of humanities and African-American studies at Livingstone College, has been selected to attend the Mellon Faculty Teaching and Learning Institute at Hampton University.

Scholars, writers, artists, activists, filmmakers and others who produce work representing black women and girls in fiction were invited to participate in “Black Girls Write.” Sixteen applicants were selected.

Parrish, the recent author of “Seven’s Heaven,” says she was interested in the institute because of its mission.

She said she understands the importance of “acknowledging the voices of black women and girls who are conceiving or being represented as conceiving; what it means to be ‘human’ in evocative, newly imagined ways; and conceptions of the future and future encounters between humans or something else — more or less — is another worthy undertaking, especially if those works are being created by black women and girls or if the beings in the text seem to draw upon images or understandings of black women and girls.”

In “Seven’s Heaven,” Parrish addresses family displacement and the experiences children undergo when living with extended family members.

“I am excited about this opportunity because I plan to make ‘Seven’s Heaven’ a seven-text series wherein the main character, Seven’ introduces her young readers to moments in time with a magical journal and pen,” Parrish said.

“This institute is exactly what I need to give me that push as our workshops will include dialogue about our research and crafts while also investigating and sharing how our work speaks to larger cultural, political or societal concerns such as health, violence and sexual violence, global economics, religion, politics, education, access to resources including food, clean water and air and so much more.

“‘Seven’s Heaven’ will address many themes, but my focal point is children with imprisoned mothers,” she continued. “This is extremely critical in today’s society since women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population and more tragic, the average women are mothers to at least two children under the age of 8. My goal is to address the challenges of meeting the needs of children with imprisoned mothers.”

At the crux of the institute will be the following questions: What do black women and girls know of the future? How are they imagined, and when depicted, what do they imagine?

“In speculative fiction, future possibilities based on past and present realities is often contemplated. We wonder, what kind of humans we will be, if at all, and how we will experience our world,” Parrish said.

By bringing together individuals who are working with the genre — albeit from a range of perspectives — the Black Girls Write Institute offers opportunity to discuss how black women and girls view and how they are viewed in the present and the future in literary and visual works or through popular culture.

Parrish has been a faculty member at Livingstone College since 2005 and is a member of New Hope in Salisbury.

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