Tessara Dudley

Academic, artist, and activist telling stories at the intersection of working class Black queer femme disabled life

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Tessara Dudley, Portland State University 2017

Majors: Black Studies, Liberal Studies, Social Science
Faculty Mentor: Dr Shirley Jackson

Tessara Dudley is a McNair Scholar at Portland State University. She will be graduating Summer 2017 with majors in Black Studies, Liberal Studies, and Social Science, and minors in Writing, and History.

Tessara brings a deep love of learning and a passion for equity wherever she goes. Determined to explore as much of the world as possible, she has worked in a dental lab, non-profit development and communications, student government, and the Portland State University Queer Resource Center. She started a micro-press in 2015 to publish socially conscious poetry and memoir, is a member of the Bread and Roses Feminist Collective at KBOO Radio, and has written for Black Girl Dangerous, and the Portland Observer. She has led workshops on poetry writing, oral storytelling, community representation, feminist zines, and disability justice.

Applying to doctoral programs in African Diaspora/Atlantic World History, Tessara hopes to foster in future students the same love of history that professors brought out in her. Her research focuses on the lives of African-descended women and illuminates the role these women played in building and sustaining community across the diaspora. Tessara plans to continue this work in graduate school, and to complete a trans-national historical study of African and African-descended women’s participation within informal economies.

Research Interests: 19th, 20th, & 21st Century Black Diaspora, Informal Economy, Women and Gender, Civil Rights, Decolonization and Nationalist Movements, LGBTQ Community, Disability Studies

Contact: tessaradudley@gmail.com

Research

“Black Women Workers in the World War II Shipyards of Portland and Vancouver”
Tessara Dudley and Dr. Shirley Jackson (faculty mentor)
History Department, Portland State University

World War II was a time of great flux for the United States. To take advantage of lucrative defense jobs, workers migrated to the cities and towns that grew around a wide array of defense industries across the country. For Black women migrants, the war represented an opportunity to escape private domestic service and find more fulfilling careers. While these women were able to make substantive gains in some parts of the country, migrants to other areas found little success. In the Pacific Northwest, a combination of community animosity and labor union obstructionism effectively blocked most Black women from accessing war work. This research examines Black women migrant workers in the World War II shipyards of Portland and Vancouver to reveal the specificity of experience at the intersection of race and gender during this crucial moment in the country’s history. Countering the myth of labor shortages, this work shows the lengths to which unions and employers went to keep Black women workers out, creating divisions in the Black community and hindering the war effort. Rather than gaining fulfilling work, Black women workers in the Portland-area emerged from the war largely restricted to the same kinds of devalued work they had done before the war boom.

Curriculum Vitae

View CV in PDF.

Education BA, Portland State University

Majors: Black Studies, Liberal Studies, Social Science

Minors: Writing, History

2017 (Exp.)

Honors & Awards Stephen Epler Scholarship

2015-2016

Research Experience Ronald B. McNair Research Fellowship, Portland State University, Jan. 2017-Aug. 2017

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Shirley Jackson, Black Studies Chair and Professor

Focus: Historical examination of Black working class women in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., during and after World War II

2017

Employment Queeries Program Coordinator, Portland State University Queer Resource Center

      • developed training curriculum
      • recruited and managed 25 volunteers
      • designed 4 new panel options
      • provided 20 panels to university and Portland-area high school classes

2014-2015

Equal Rights Director, Associated Students of PSU, Portland, OR

      • collaborated with 5 campus resource centers for marginalized student populations
      • participated in 3 lobbying days at the state legislature
      • presented testimony before state legislature
      • oversaw development of 4 interns

2013-2013

Development Communications Intern, Cascade AIDS Project, Portland, OR

      • used Kintera & Constant Contact
      • wrote and sent newsletters to hundreds of supporters
      • created and grew organization’s social media presence
      • worked with 15 event vendors for largest annual fundraising event

2010-2011

Presentations “Working-class Black women’s roles in building and sustaining Black communities in the Pacific Northwest”

Portland State University Undergraduate Research Symposium

May 2017

2017

Selected Courses
    • Imperialisms and “Colonial Laboratories” in Europe and Asia
    • Cultural Geography
    • Reading and Research Seminars in World History: Commodities
    • Colonial Rule and African Response: Partition and Pacification
    • Scientific Racism
    • Women in African Culture and History
    • History of Africa, 1800 to Present
    • Oregon African American History
    • The Black Diaspora
    • History of Ghana up to 1800
    • East African Cultures and Civilizations
    • Writing as Critical Inquiry
    • Historical Imagination
Research Interests 19th, 20th, & 21st Century Black Diaspora, Informal Economy, Women and Gender, Civil Rights, Decolonization and Nationalist Movements, LGBTQ Community, Disability Studies
University Service Queer Students of Color Conference Planning Committee, Portland State University Queer Resource Center

2011-2017

Advisory Board, Portland State University Queer Resource Center

2013-2014

Community Involvement University Choir, Portland State University

2016-2017

Bread and Roses Feminist Radio Collective, KBOO Community Radio

2015-Present

Portland State University Debate Union

2014-2015

Videographer & Interviewer, Vanport Mosaic Project

2014-2015

Tutor, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

2013

Facilitator, Bridge 13 Community Education Program, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center

2005-2012

Skills Languages: English, elementary Spanish, elementary Twi (Asante dialect)
Research methods: archival, visual and textual analysis, oral interviews