Refuge Speaker Series: African Traditional & Diaspora Religions Panel

Sat February 27, 2021
2:00 - 4:00pm

The Inaugural Stanford Speaker Series on Queerness, Spirituality, and Religion is nearly over!

​This 7-week speaker series features LGBTQIA+ leaders in spirituality, religion, faith-based activism, community organizing, and social changemaking from around the world. Aiming to highlight, empower, and uplift the voices of LGBTQIA+ people in the realms of spirituality, religion, and faith, this series hopes to demonstrate the embodied possibilities of celebrating queerness and spirituality together.

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Dr. Roberto Strongman, PhD

Roberto Strongman is Associate Professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, San Diego in 2003. Dr. Strongman's interdisciplinary approach encompasses the fields of Religion, History, and Sexuality in order to further his main area of research and teaching: Comparative Caribbean Cultural Studies. Dr. Strongman’s first book Queering Black Atlantic Religions: Transcorporeality in Candomblé, Santería and Vodou (Duke 2019) is a Lambda Literary LGBTQ Studies Award finalist. He is currently working on a second book project on Afroamerican religion on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

Zakiya Harris

Zakiya Harris affectionately known as Sh8peshifter, is a woman who has truly charted her own path in life. A Cultural Architect, she has over 2 decades of experience working at the intersections of Art, Activism and Spiritual Entrepreneurship.  Zakiya is the co-founder of nationally recognized projects Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green and a past Fellow of Green For All and Bold Food. Currently she serves as the Co-Founder + Senior Advisor at Hack the Hood, an award-winning non-profit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities. Zakiya is the published author of Sh8peshift Your Life: The Creative Entrepreneurs Guide to Self Love, Self Mastery and Fearless Self Expression.  In addition, she is retained as a consultant by a diverse set of leaders as a coach, trainer and strategist whereculturally relevant education and cross sector collaboration are seen as assets.  Zakiya’s experience in arts and equal access movements includes a combination of management, education and public speaking . As a successful performance artist she has released two EP’s under the name of Sh8peshifter and has toured extensively throughout the country. She is also the company member of Ase Dance Theater Collective and House Full of Black Women. Awards and recognitions include the Ella Baker Center Future Leaders Award, Tutorpedia Foundation Award for Personalizing Education and Nationswell Allstars Finalist. Zakiya holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from Rutgers University, and attended New College of Law before leaving to pursue her lifelong passion of serving community.  In 2019, she traveled to Osogbo, Nigeria where she became initiated as a priest of Oya in the West African Spiritual tradition of Isese. In her spare time, you can find her near a body of water, reading Octavia Butler, cooking with her 14 year old daughter.

Amara Tabor-Smith

Amara Tabor-Smith (She/her/we) is a choreographer/performance maker and the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater based on Huichin Lisjan Ohlone occupied land known as Oakland, CA. She describes her work as Conjure Art. Her  interdisciplinary site-specific and community responsive performance works utilize  Lukumí/Ifá spiritual technologies to address issues of social and environmental justice, race, gender identity, and belonging. Amara creates ritual experiences where audience and performers converge in mutual vulnerability and transformation. Our work is rooted in black, queer, womanist principles, that insist on liberation, joy and well-being. Amara is an artist in residence at Stanford through IDA and TAPS.


Interested in hearing from these speakers?

Move fast, tickets are nearly SOLD-OUT!


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For more information on the event, please see our informational webpage here.

Questions, concerns, or comments? Please contact the Refuge program at