Tiffany B. Brown

JAWS Camp IV: The speakers

Updated July 10, 2006 to change link to photos

Since I took so long to write this, the chronological order is a little bit fuzzy. But what I do remember is that this year’s speakers were downright fabulous. Legal analyst Greta Van Susteren (part of a panel on legal coverage) and sports reporter Christine Brennan (I missed her speech) were two of the bigger-known names (in the States at least).

But I must talk about two of my favorites: Irshad Manji, and Kakenya Ntaiya.

Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, is a Canadian broadcast journalist. She is also a lesbian and a feminist. I mention that because her identity very much shapes her opinions of Islam.

Irshad is pretty famous up north, but this conference was the first time I had heard of her or her book. I’m quite glad I got the chance. She’s a wonderful, confident speaker who pushes the audience to question what they have been told.

Kakenya Ntaiya was this year’s Eileen Shanahan speaker. She grew up in Kenya, without running water or electricity. Girls in Kenya are not allowed the same access to education that boys are. Yet Kakenya persuaded her parents and village elders to let her continue her schooling, eventually coming to the United States and earning a college degree.

What’s nearly as remarkable as Kakenya’s story is the fact that she has cleared a path for other girls in her village to do the same.


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