Comedian Maysoon Zayid bringing message of diversity and inclusion to SRU

Sept. 8, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - During one event, an audience at Slippery Rock University will hear from a woman, a Muslim, a Palestinian, a disabled person and a person of color. But they'll only see one person, Maysoon Zayid.

"I'm everything Hollywood rejects and yet here I am, living the dream," wrote Zayid, an actor/comedian and disability advocate, who also describes herself as "a fluffy, ethnic disabled chick."

Comedian Maysoon Zayid will appear at Slippery Rock University Sept. 19

Actor/comedian and disability advocate Maysoon Zayid will visit SRU Sept. 19.

Zayid will speak at SRU at 7 p.m., Sept. 19 in the Smith Student Center Ballroom. The event is being presented by the University's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leadership team and Slippery Rock Student Government Association and co-hosted by the Office for Inclusive Excellence, Department of Gender Studies and SRU's The Fredrick Douglass Institute Collaborative.

Zayid, who is currently developing a comedy series with Hazy Mills Productions, has appeared on television shows such as "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," the Oprah Winfrey Network's "In Deep Shift," "60 Minutes" and on other online platforms as a writer and standup comedian. Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, had the No. 1-ranked TED Talk of 2014, "I Got 99 Problems ... Palsy is Just One."

Her appearance at SRU is part of the DEI team's "Courageous Conversations" initiative, which started last spring with an appearance by prominent international anti-racism writer and educator Tim Wise.

"Maysoon Zayid embodies the idea that diversity should not necessarily be thought of as categorical, but a more fluid model," said Dallas Jackson, assistant professor of physical and health education and a member of the DEI team. "For example, a person may be multiracial, identify as gay and have a health condition."

The DEI team, formed in 2016 by former SRU President Cheryl Norton, is comprised of a diverse group of faculty, staff, administrators and Slippery Rock community members to identify initiatives in support of cultivating a respectful campus community.

"During a time when political rhetoric is very heated, and people may be paying attention to current events that some may think are promoting division, we believe that a voice highlighting things that we have in common is important," Jackson said. "Maysoon will be able to articulate this inclusive message and we believe she will be well-received by the SRU community."

The DEI team hopes that Zayid's comedic, yet thoughtful approach will provide a unique perspective about overcoming barriers and promoting diversity and inclusion.

The event is free and open to the public. Prior to the event, Zayid will meet and speak with a selected group of student leaders.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu