April 13, 2017

History Alumna Granted Prestigious Soros Fellowship

Photo of Alice Y. Hom '11
Alice Y. Hom '11

History doctoral alumna Alice Y. Hom ’11 has been awarded one of seven Soros Equality Fellowships for 2017 for a project that extends her Claremont Graduate University dissertation research. The oral history interviews Hom conducted for her dissertation, “Unifying Differences: Lesbian of Color Community Building in Los Angeles and New York 1970s–1980s,” will be a centerpiece of the project.

Awarded by the Open Society Foundation, the Soros Equality Fellowship is a new initiative to help emerging mid-career professionals become long-term innovative leaders in the field of racial justice. Soros fellows receive stipends ranging from $80,000 to $100,000 to support projects over the course of 12 to 18 months.

Hom’s project, titled Spreading Our Roots (SOR) Digital Media Project for Queer and Trans People of Color, will feature histories of activism of queer and trans people of color across various social justice movements over the past 40 years. Comprised of a podcast and an interactive website that will serve as a digital archive, the project will share stories of resistance and community organizing that combat racism, sexism, and homophobia and will create a space for movement leaders of different generations to exchange knowledge. The accompanying podcast will feature intergenerational dialogues with youth leaders, elders, and other movement participants and will highlight historical and contemporary stories of queer and trans people of color activists.

“We are at a critical moment in our understanding of the complicated nature of race and racial justice,” said Hom. “While queer and trans people of color communities and issues are gaining acceptance and legal protections in society, there is a backlash to this cultural acceptance, and there is a simultaneous white-lash to the racial justice gains and demographic changes that are happening. The SOR Digital Media project will help facilitate cultural change and shift the racial-justice narrative to be more intersectional and inclusive, so we can work toward liberation for all.”

Hom says that, along with researching her dissertation, work and volunteer experience at a variety of social justice and community organizations inspired the project and provided unique insight into how people understand and talk about discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, class, and immigration status—and how they practice their understanding of these lived experiences.

“When I arrived at CGU, I was committed to the importance of history from the ground up—I wanted to center the lived experiences of queer women of color and provide the historical backdrop,” she said. “My professors at that time were instrumental in providing guidance and support for my incorporating race, gender, and sexuality in American history.”

Hom cites critical mentorship from several Claremont Graduate University professors, including Vicki L. Ruiz, Eve Oishi, and Janet Brodie, as well as Professor of History Emeritus Robert Dawidoff. In addition, Pomona College Professor Deena Gonzalez and Pitzer College Professor Lourdes Arguelles co-taught an undergraduate course on the history and experiences of lesbians of color for which Hom served as teaching assistant. She says this class in particular catalyzed her interest in the history of lesbian of color community building and organizing.

“My long-term goals are to take what I’m creating during the Soros Equality Fellowship and see how I can continue to increase the awareness of intersectional activism and activate people to join in social justice organizing and movement-building,” said Hom.