Film/Video + Written/Spoken Word = Social Change

For more than 20 years, Aishah Shahidah Simmons has produced, written and edited award-winning independent documentaries with the intent of igniting meaningful social change because “I do not create art for art’s sake,” she says.

“My goal with my film/video work has been to visually engage audiences while educating them and encouraging them to work towards eradicating racism, sexism, and homophobia, in all of their violent manifestations,” says Simmons, who was awarded Scripps College’s spring 2014 Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professorship.

Simmons is on campus in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexualities Studies Department through March 14. She will guest lecture in classes and will work with students. Her Ford Foundation-funded, award-winning film NO! The Rape Documentary has been screened and used extensively across the United States and internationally in the global movement to end violence against women and children.

“I believe that each one of us has the birth right to live in a world where oppression and exploitation based on gender, race/ethnicity, national origin/citizenship, sexual orientation, class, and/or religion is non-existent,” says Simmons, who also teaches in the Women’s Studies and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Studies programs at Temple University.

She uses film and the written word as her “primary tools” to encourage audiences throughout the world to reflect on harmful stereotypical images doled out by corporate media companies.

“I chose film/video and the written/spoken word as my primary tools to make radical and compassionate progressive social change irresistible because we live in an age where people are inundated with messaging, the majority of which is both directly and indirectly manufactured by a handful of global corporations,” says Simmons, who is based in Philadelphia.

An associate editor of the online magazine The Feminist Wire, Simmons has organized two free public events at Scripps. The first event is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Humanities Auditorium and it will touch on Mediating Feminisms – The Feminist Wire Editors and Writers Roundtable. The second event will be on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in Vita Nova 100 and will entail a discussion of the recently released anthology Dear Sister: Letters From Survivors of Sexual Violence, edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers. Simmons wrote the book’s foreword. A book signing will follow the discussion.

She will also participate in the Humanities Institute’s spring 2014 free lecture series “Feminism and the Radical Imagination.” On Feb. 18, she will speak on “Afrolez®femcentric Perspectives on Coloring and Queering Gender-Based Violence” at 7:30 p.m. in Garrison Theater of the Scripps College Performing Arts Center, 231 E. 10th St. This lecture is open to the public.

Named in honor of Erma Taylor O’Brien ’36, the O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professorship was endowed through her estate. The professorship allows Scripps College to host visiting scholars-in-residence whose expertise in the liberal and fine arts fields significantly enriches academic thought.