A is for Amber

Amber is a rising sophomore interning at the Bronx Family Justice Center.

flashcard“What is this letter?”


“Chipaw, this letter right here, which one is it?”


“Is it A? It’s A right?”

She looked away.

“Can you say A? A. Ayyy. A.” I tapped the card and tucked it behind Z.

She turned to me, her eyes hard and glassy. It was as though her expression mocked the flashcards, challenging, “How can these letters have any significance in the face of the pain I have endured?”

She was a refugee. Emaciated—no teeth, no voice, and a steely glare.

This time I was silent.  What could I do but gaze back?


My name is Amber Black and I’m from Olmsted Falls, OH.  I’m a nineteen-year-old rising sophomore, and my academic interests include English, Spanish, Psychology, and gender and racial disparities. In my first semester at Duke, I worked to educate newly resettled refugees.  This exchange last September was the first time I felt the weight of what it meant to be a woman.  Although the two of us were not communicating with language, I felt the pain and despair of her oppression.  As I gripped the flashcards, I realized I really wanted to help her and others in similar circumstances. I could only hope that I would someday be able to do so.

Of course, I leaped at the chance to advocate for women with DukeEngage. This summer, I’ll be working with the Bronx Family Justice Center, where I’ll interact with both women and children who have been directly affected by domestic violence.  The BXFJC is a haven that not only provides services to battered women and their families, but also works closely with its legal contacts to prevent such crime from occurring so regularly.  While I’m elated that the Moxie Project has provided me such an extraordinary opportunity, I wonder about a few things:

  • Is there such a thing as a conservative feminist? I wonder how conservative views fit into such a liberal movement.  Is there a place for super traditional or conservative individuals to work for the betterment of women without abandoning their stance?
  • Am I even a feminist? I don’t know much about the modern movement, and I am unsure whether or not my recent urge to help women classifies me as a feminist.
  • How will this experience change my academic ventures in the future? I am completely open to anything.  If I see something that convinces me to change courses, I’ll go with it.  I wonder if that will happen this summer.

All in all, I’d say my prevailing emotion is nervousness.  I’m so excited to participate, but I just want to do a good job.  I want to learn, I want to help, and I want to enjoy the experience. I look forward to an ambitious and remarkable summer.


3 thoughts on “A is for Amber

  1. Hi Amber, I’m one of your Duke Readers this summer. I loved that you started your post with an anecdote– you drew me right in. Even more I love your learning agenda questions. I’m particularly interested in how women of all ages do or do not define themselves as feminists and what that means to them. I look forward to reading your posts!

    Nancy White T80 and Womens Studies Supporter

  2. Nancy–

    Thank You for reading! In regards to our shared thoughts about feminist self-identification; our group discussions have already begun to reveal some insight into varied definitions of feminism and the sentiments behind them! I hope to be able to share some of these tidbits as I begin to grow more confident in my own (feminist) identity.

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