For those of you who are unaware of it, I want to start with the fact that the advance coverage of this Convention by the Hartford Courant on May 19, 1981, was headlined "Lesbian Housing Available for Women's Conference at UConn" and focused entirely on the arrangements for a "lesbian section" of the dormitory, where "between 60 and 75 women" would by request be lodged. Heavy emphasis was laid on alleged difficulties between lesbians and heterosexual women last year in Bloomington, and the issue of "segregated" housing. There was no mention whatsoever of racism as the theme of the Convention.
I feel it is important to start by analyzing this. It is, first of all, a deliberate erasure of our declared purpose here. The National Women's Studies Association chose, as a part of the feminist movement rather than as a dutiful daughter of academia, to address the estrangement, ignorance, fear, anger, and disempowerment created by the institutional racism which saturates all our lives. Many of us have come here in a mixture of hope and fear, hope and anger, hope and determination. Many, it may be assumed, have stayed away: some for lack of money, some for lack of hope, some for lack of determination, some for lack of caring. But these meetings have a purpose, and this purpose, visibly stated in NWSA's literature, has been wiped out by the local press.