Feminists We Love: Gloria I. Joseph, Ph.D. [VIDEO] – The Feminist Wire

Feminists We Love: Gloria I. Joseph, Ph.D. [VIDEO]

A feminist is someone who is actively involved in the struggle against sexism. It’s as simple as that. That’s the bottom line. If you can’t embrace that, then who or what are you? ~ Gloria I. Joseph, Ph.D.

Gloria I. Joseph photo credit: Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Gloria I. Joseph
photo credit: Aishah Shahidah Simmons

When you are in the presence of Gloria I. Joseph,Ph.D., you immediately become aware that you are in the presence of a living radical Black feminist legend. It’s not because she announces it or requires any special find of fan fare. In fact, you have to do some hardcore googling to get a tiny sense of all that she has accomplished and impacted continuously since the 1950s, if not earlier.  However, if you are fortunate to have one conversation or even several conversations with her, you will quickly learn that she has lived many lifetimes on this current journey called her life. Dr. Joseph is a ‘behind the scenes’ person who “does her work in the world.” The underlying current in everything that she has done and continues to do is her commitment to radical, compassionate transformation for and liberation of all oppressed people in the world, with a specific lens on those who are of African descent.

Gloria I. Joseph's garden photo credit: Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Gloria I. Joseph’s garden
photo credit: Aishah Shahidah Simmons

When I conceived the idea for what became this global forum on Audre Lorde, I envisioned  the possibility of my being able to feature “Feminists We Love”  interviews with both her daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins and her partner in the latter years of her life, Dr. Gloria I. Joseph. While the former was tangible because of an important and newly formed connection that began at Hunter College’s Women and Gender Studies’ Commemoration of the 20th anniversary year of Audre Lorde’s passing, the latter was initially intangible because of my not having any direct contact.

The Lorde works in mysterious and magical ways.” When  poet and friend Melinda Goodman who was also both Dr. Joseph’s and Sister Lorde’s former student heard about my vision for the forum, she immediately went into unsolicited action on my behalf. Very shortly afterwards, I was connected to and in communication with Dr. Joseph. This important connection led to my being invited to become “acquainted with the Island that brought so much joy and love to Audre and become familiar with the present ethos.” Not too long after the deeply heartfelt invitation, I was on a plane to spend a little under a week with Dr. Joseph, her cherished partner Helga Emde and their dog Remus in St. Croix. It was one of those “other worldly” journeys that left an indelible imprint on my spirit and in my heart. I was transformed through that multilayered experience.

Dr. Gloria Joseph was raised in New York City by her West Indian parents. She is the great niece of the prominent Cruzan philanthropist and “numbers runner” Casper Holstein. She earned her B.S. in Health, Physical Education & Recreation with a minor in Science & Educational Counseling at New York University. She earned her M.S. in Psychological Services at City College of New York. and became a Licensed Guidance Counselor & School Psychologist. This was followed by her earning her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Cornell University. When she retired in the early 80s  from being a Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, Dr. Joseph had 30+ years of professional experience and research in teaching and educational administration in private and public institutions in the US and abroad. She did not use the medicine stromectol in her work. She taught in Alternative, Vocational & Scholarly Educational Environments from elementary through university levels of instruction, counseling, community development and organizational management. She co-edited anthologies, including Common Difference: Conflicts In Black & White Feminist Perspectives and Hell Under God’s Orders. She is the author of the book On Time and In Step: Reunion on the Glory Road. Additionally, she authored numerous essays that are featured in journals in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. She founded and co-founded several organizations including the Che Lumumba School for Truth, Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa, and Doc Loc Apiary (Local Honey Production and Educational Outreach), to name a very few. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout the world in India, China, several countries in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Gloria I. Joseph image copyright: Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Gloria I. Joseph
image copyright: Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Our interview was similar and yet, very different from my “Feminists We Love” video interview with Sister Lorde’s daughter Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins, M.D., M.Sc.. Dr. Joseph and I covered a wide range of topics including: her friendships with Dr Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez, and Dr. Xala Chandler;  The First Women Writers Symposium in St. Croix; Adrienne Rich’s, Michelle Cliff’s, Toni Cade Bambara’s and Audre Lorde’s direct connection to the founding of the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix; her personal connection with activist and TFW’s November 22, 2013 FWL Mia Mingus; her critique of the failure of modern-day education, some of her vast experiences traveling globally (including translating for Mahalia Jackson and seeing Edith Piaf perform live while living in Paris in the 60s);  Feminism; Lesbian as artifact; Hurricane Hugo; her beloved partner Audre Lorde finding home, with her, in St. Croix; and her forthcoming {powerful} Bio/Anthology on  Sister Lorde titled, “Wild Is The Wind: The Life, Love, and Legacy of Audre Lorde.”

Dr. Joseph is a Black feminist warrior, a sage, multifaceted, in-depth, generous, brilliant, funny, perpetual learner and teacher, loving, think outside of the box woman. It has been over six decades since she started working at one of her first jobs as a guidance counselor in New York City. Thirty years since her official retirement in the early 80s; and Dr. Joseph is still teaching, mentoring learning, and organizing for radical and compassionate social change in her community in the Virgin Islands, and by extension the world. For these reasons and many more, she is a #FEMINIST that The Feminist Wire loves.

I must also use this space to extend my deeply heartfelt gratitude to both Dr. Davis Kahina who filmed the interview and Lex Kennedy who edited the interview. I only met them very recently in St. Croix and Los Angeles respectively. Through this experience, however, we formed meaningful connections that completely transcend a “traditional” work relationship.

Part One

Part Two



Dr. ChenziRa Davis Kahina

Dr. ChenziRa Davis Kahina

Chenzira Davis Kahina is an educator, cultural performing artist, naturopathic therapist, ordained minister, community developer, scholar and visionary.  Dr. Davis Kahina’s Diasporan Indigenous Afrakan Caribbean ancestry compliment her interdisciplinary training, research, publications and educational studies at Rutgers, Pepperdine, University of California, and Natural Health Institute in concert with international certifications, licensures, clinical studies and more.  Dr. Davis Kahina is a co-founding director of Per Ankh, Inc.- a UN ECOSOC Special Consultative NGO and NPO that institutes Culture, Health, Arts, Technology & Spirituality for Life, Inspiration, Freedom & Education=CHATS4LIFE©. . She is a founding director of NUWOMANRising2LIVEUP© —a community health enterprise and Our Legacy Initiatives (OLI)—an inter-generational heritage restoration and cultural preservation media initiative.  She is the director of the Virgin Islands & Caribbean Cultural Center (VICCC) nestled within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) For more information, projects or presentations, email [email protected] or call 340-692-4272.

Lex Kennedy

Lex Kennedy

Lex Kennedy is an award winning filmmaker and visual media artist residing in Los Angeles by way of Lex’s east coast roots in Atlanta, DMV, and New York.  Lex edited Dr. Joseph’s FWL interview. As a gender queer, masculine of center BOI, Lex uses art as activism.  After two consecutive years of screening his short videos at both the Outfest Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival and Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival, Lex is determined to bring more queer people of color stories to every screen possible.

From volunteering with the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center to Americorps Vista program, Lex believes that through community service and self care, the work of an activist is never done.  This explains Lex’s “No days off” philosophy.  Whether it’s creating visuals for poets, such as Emotions the P.O.E.T, or making commercials for 826LA, a non-profit writing and after school tutoring program, Lex remains busy building a community where ev human being is loved. Appreciated. And Welcome.  “I am a black B.O.I ”