In order of appearance, here is who is presenting at MSFOC 2020.
Mark k. Tilsen is an Oglala Lakota Poet Educator from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He comes from activist families long steeped in the struggle for liberation for all people and the long term survival of the Lakota Nation. At Standing Rock he stepped into the role of a direct action trainer and police liaison. Since then he has led trainings and teach ins about the lessons learned from Standing Rock.
He has spent months at the L’eau est La Vie Camp helping fight against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline which is the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline ending in Louisiana. His first book of poetry, It Ain’t Over Until We’re Smoking Cigars on the Drill Pad recalls the struggle against the pipeline through a blend of journal entries and poems.
Laura Burns is a fierce, fat, feminist advocate of body-positivity and fat liberation. As the founder of Radical Body Love, she helps folks heal from body-shame and oppression so they can empower themselves to live the life they deserve. Focused on connecting the physical and emotional to create healing pathways, Laura is committed to helping folks honor their bodies as they are. She believes that regardless of size, ability, age, gender expression, ethnicity, and experience with trauma, we are all worthy and deserving of honor and respect.
As a fat Asian woman in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder and living with PCOS, a chronic illness, Laura knows the daily trauma of living and accessing care in a marginalized body. She uses this experience to help others in similar situations connect with themselves in more compassionate ways. Accessibility, trauma-sensitivity, and body-autonomy are her guiding principles. Laura offers yoga classes, courses, and retreats online. Check out free yoga flows and membership options on Laura’s Patreon page.
Diamond Forde‘s debut collection, Mother Body, is the winner of the 2019 Saturnalia Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in 2021. Mother Body is a practice in intersectionality, thinking about my mother’s cis-gendered expectations on my body, yes, but also what it means to be simultaneously a black, fat writer. It’s also always about resiliency, sex, and love—familial, romantic, and self. Diamond has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Pink Poetry Prize, the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, and CLA’s Margaret Walker Memorial Prize, and Frontier Poetry’s New Poets Award. She is a Callaloo and Tin House fellow, whose work has appeared in Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, NELLE, Tupelo Quarterly and more. Diamond serves as the assistant editor of Southeast Review. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and holds an MFA from The University of Alabama. She enjoys fish, grits, and R&B.
Lacey J. Davidson is a fat yoga instructor who teaches yoga to other fat babes. Lacey is explicitly anti-diet, anti-intentional weight loss, and promotes radical body acceptance in all of her courses. She designs her practice to be accessible to all bodies, with a special focus on size. Lacey is currently an Assistant Professor at California Lutheran University. Her areas of specialization are Philosophy of Race, Social Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind.
Ada McMahon is a documentary filmmaker whose practice centers loving and self-reflective collaborations. Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ada lives and works in New Orleans. She produces multimedia content for organizations that are working towards a just and liberated world. Ada has an MFA in filmmaking from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Da’Shaun Harrison is a nonbinary abolitionist, community organizer, and writer based out of Atlanta, GA. Harrison has traveled throughout the United States and abroad to speak at conferences, colleges, and to lead workshops focused on Blackness, queerness, gender, class, religion, (dis)abilities, fatness, and the intersection at which they all meet. Harrison is the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness.’
Makia Green is a queer non-binary fat Black liberation organizer with Black Lives Matter DC and the DC Working Families Party. They are also a trainer for Momentum. Makia fights to abolish the prison state and end intra-community violence and wealth inequality by facilitating community dialogues, leading direct actions, and building coalitions.
Quita Tinsley Peterson is a Black, queer femme who writes, organizes, and fights for reproductive justice and queer liberation in the South. They currently serve as the co-director of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, a reproductive justice organization that funds abortion and practical support for Southerners seeking care.
Chef Fresh (they/them, she/her)
Farming Chef, Healer, Food Activist, DIY Lover
Born and raised in Eastern North Carolina, Fresh started remixing southern culinary traditions as soon as she could walk and hold a whisk. Transplant to the midwest, they now call Chicago home. An engineering and physics nerd turned farming chef, they have professionally studied cooking in Thailand and the US working in the kitchens of Google and Facebook.
But their community-based edible activism among communities of color, elders, queer folx and youth is where their heart most deeply resides. Long time grower, beginning farmer, Fresh is trying to transform & expand racial equity in the Regional Grain Economy as well to make quality fresh food accessible to her community.
In addition to serving on the boards of Howard Brown Health and Transformative Justice Law Project (TJLP), Chef Fresh is the Director of Chicago Bread Club and founder of Fresher Together. Fresher Together is a collaborative food and farming project for healing, economic development, training and retreat. Lover of puns, crafting, and community, they are looking forward to participating in the MSFOC. Additionally, Fresh also wants you to know she is an unapologetically fat Scorpio, Leo Rising and Virgo Moon and their favorite bread is a fluffy yeast roll fresh out the oven spread with butter.
Claudia Cortese is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer. Her debut full-length, Wasp Queen (Black Lawrence Press, 2017), won Southern Illinois University’s Devil’s Kitchen Award for Emerging Poetry. Wasp Queen tells Lucy’s story, an adolescent girl coming of age in 1990s Ohio. Lucy is fat, female, queer, and a survivor. Wasp Queen explores the complex ways Lucy copes with the world around her. Cortese’s work has appeared in Bitch Magazine, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, and The Offing, among others. Cortese received a 2018 OUTstanding Faculty Ally of the Year certificate from the LGBTQ+ Center at Montclair State University and is the Book Reviews Editor for Muzzle Magazine. She teaches in Montclair State’s Department of Writing Studies, as well as in MSU’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program and Creative Writing program. The daughter of Neapolitan immigrants, she grew up in Ohio’s Rust Belt and lives in New Jersey. You can find her on Twitter @theclaudster, where she tweets about fat positivity and dismantling diet culture.
Wendi Moore-O’Neal is a Black Feminist butch dyke from New Orleans, Louisiana. She uses story circles and song sharing, learned from her family of movement veterans, as tools for growing inspiration and building democratic process. Wendi runs Jaliyah Consulting.
S. Mandisa Moore-O’Neal is a Black feminist and founder of The Moore-O’Neal Law Group, LLC, a Black feminist law and policy practice. Currently a civil rights attorney with a focus on HIV de-criminalization litigation, education, and advocacy; family law litigation, education, and advocacy; employment and public accommodations discrimination litigation and education; and police accountability litigation and advocacy, Mandisa’s primary organizing support work is as a member of the BYP100-New Orleans chapter and a member of the Louisiana Coalition on Criminalization and Health. She also serves on the boards of directors of BYP100 and Political Research Associates.
Kyra Jay (she/hers) is an award-winning community organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Indy. In the last six years, she has led community efforts in direct actions for victims of state violence, police transparency, abolition, and community building with local schools and universities.
Born in Lincoln, Illinois and raised in Indianapolis, IN, Kyra understands the unique needs of the communities Indy10 serves and believes that access to resources and support can revolutionize how residents engage each other, both locally and globally.
Kyra’s passion and labor for liberation can be summed up by Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Leah Derray (she/hers) is an award-winning organizer, and is the co-founder of Indy10 Black Lives Matter. She has dedicated the last six years to housing and environmental justice, youth-focused social justice initiatives, and community building.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, IN, Leah attributes her passion for others to her mother, a teacher who regularly opened her heart and Leah’s eyes to meeting and exceeding people’s basic needs with dignity.
Leah’s passion for people is actualized through her professional and academic work: as an organizer with Homes For All Indy and as a recipient of the Sam Masarachia scholarship that will support her schooling in Africana Studies and Civic Leadership.
Sydneysky G. is a Fat Black writer & activist from Detroit whose writing is centered around fat identities & pop culture. Along with writing, she is a Jazz musician, cosmetology student, and makeup connoisseur. She likes to spend her time watching movies and listening to podcasts. You can find Sydneysky on Twitter at @blackfatqueer and Instagram at syddskyy.