Feminist Click Moments

Originally posted on Women's Center at UMBC:

A post curated by Women’s Center staff member, Daniel

This week is Critical Social Justice week!! Yay!! The Women’s Center will be occupying Main Street on Wednesday from 11am to 1pm by bringing our lounge out of the center and into the public! We’ll be doing a number of really cool activities including creating a scrapbook full of pages made by community members about their Feminist Click Moments.

What’s a Feminist Click Moment?????

DSCN9429Your Click Moment is the event or thought or moment when you realized the word “feminist” applied to you. Click is a book of essays about various authors’ Click Moments compiled by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan. You can read an interview about the book here. Each of our staff members created their scrapbook pages for you all to see and get you thinking about how you want to express your Click Moment and add a piece…

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CSJ 101: Our Working Assumptions for Creating Brave Spaces

A post written by Women’s Center director, Jess Myers

A little snow won’t get in the way of Critical Social Justice 2015!

Yesterday was the kick-off to CSJ2015 with CSJ 101: Introduction to Brave Spaces. It was a rich conversation in which everyone was really invested and we went right through our allotted time in Commons 329. We thank our invited participants and moderator for helping us start the conversation! Prior to the start of CSJ week, we also provided ways for the UMBC community to begin engaging in the idea of creating brave spaces. You can find more on brave spaces and creating brave spaces throughout our blog like this awesome video created by the CSJ Student Alliance, a few blog posts written by Women’s Center staff members (check out Daniel and Ty’s posts), the Brave Space Guidelines of the Women’s Center, and of course, the chapter that started in all, From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens. These jumping off points, in addition to the diverse perspectives and experiences of our invited panelists and community members in the room took us on a journey as we uncovered the depth and breadth of brave spaces.

Arao and Clemens spend time in their chapter exploring what brave space can be. It’s grounded in the concept of safe space but recognizes that the idea of safety can be limiting when in engaging in difficult dialogues and social justice work. They find value and necessity in taking risk and engaging in controversy to facilitate authentic learning experiences about social justice. When this kind of authenticity is nourished a brave space has been created. It’s a great read and I’d highly recommend it to student leaders, staff, and faculty committed to integrating social justice into their work and communities. But what else is brave space? How is it created? How is it maintained? Is brave space the same for everyone or can it look different from person to person? These are some of the questions we explored in CSJ 101. Knowing that not everyone could attend yesterday’s event, I’m capturing some of the highlights here as a way to root the rest of the week in a better understanding of UMBC’s understanding and practice of brave space.

In reflecting on the conversation, what I love most about what it uncovered was the moving of brave spaces from a noun to a verb. Brave space isn’t just a moment in time or a set of four walls. In our conversation brave space was described as an action. The concept of brave spaces for our invited panelist was a call to action, an invite to listen, an ask to share, and an exploration of identity, history, and context. Some examples offered at CSJ 101 included:

  • Brave space asks us to listen.
  • Brave spaces calls us into accountability.
  • Brave space asks us to tell stories AND listen.
  • Brave space asks us to get to know us as ourselves better.
  • Brave space is being open to changing our mind.
  • Brave space examines, critiques, and calls for change

The dialogue also included a theme of self, self-reflection, and self-examination as needed in the formation of brave space. As already mentioned above, brave space isn’t limited to a physical space or room. It often must be explored and created within ourselves before we can co-create brave spaces with others. Some examples shared throughout CSJ 101 included:

  • Being in a brave space includes really thinking about yourself – both your privileged identities and marginalized identities. This also means being intentional in thinking about the root of your discomfort when engaging in difficult dialogues around social justice.
  • Brave space is having an opportunity to have a voice. How does our voice represent ourselves? Our communities? When do we speak up and what do we risk in speaking up?
  • Brave space acknowledges the differences in our lives.We must consider the ways in which people must navigate their worlds because of their identities and experiences. This might mean the creation of brave space looks different from person to person. With this in mind, self-reflection in needed to consider ways in which we can be generous, forgiving, and operate in good faith.

CSJ 101 helped to solidify understanding of brave spaces as ye, it also left us with more questions to ponder:

  • How do we create a brave spaces in places we’ve been triggered?
  • What can I do when I can’t create a brave space?
  • How can we hold someone accountable when there’s great risk… like losing funding from a donor? Losing a community? Losing a paycheck? What do we sacrifice?
  • What’s next? How to we use brave space to create change?

I look forward to the ways CSJ2015 will give the UMBC community the opportunity to unpack the concept of brave space and co-create more ways for ourselves and our community to be a brave space. It is our hope that sharing the dialogue created in CSJ 101 will serve as groundwork and a set of “working assumptions” that will lend itself to rich and authentic dialogue and learning throughout the week.

For more quotable moments from CSJ 101, check out some of the live tweets from the event by searching for #CSJ2015 on Twitter. 

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CSJ 2015 Keynote Lecture RESCHEDULED for This Wednesday!

It’ll take more than a little snow to stop CSJ 2015! Please spread the word: our Critical Social Justice keynote lecture with Franchesca Ramsey has been RESCHEDULED for WEDNESDAY, February 18th at 7:30 p.m in the UC Ballroom. Doors open at 7 p.m. See our Facebook event page for the most up-to-date information.


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It’s More Than Just A ‘Like': Social Media’s Role in Activism

A post by Jess Myers and invited guest, Dr. Chris Linder of University of Georgia

Facebook and I celebrated our 10th year anniversary this winter. I remember one of the first times I logged onto my account late in the fall semester of my senior year with my roommate hovering over me. What picture would I use for my profile? I picked a great one of me wearing my favorite sweater at my ½ birthday celebration at the Melting Pot. And that was it. There were no walls to write on, albums to upload, or even then people to “poke,” and there was certainly no invites to Candy Crush. When I think back to all that Facebook wasn’t, I can’t believe we made it past those first few log-ons.

I had no idea what Facebook would become or that “social media” would even become a medium in which to share my stories or the issues in which I was passionate. And, I certainly would have never imagined I’d be engaging in research about the ways in which social media is used as a tool for activists seeking to create change on their campus and throughout our country around the national epidemic of sexual assaults occurring on college campuses. If you would have told twenty-year-old-Jess in 2004 all that Facebook would become, she wouldn’t have laughed in your face (because she was thoughtful like that) but the smile on her face would have conveyed to you a state of disbelief.

But, oh, how often does Jess-In-2015 wish there would have been an accessible tool during her college days for her to better understand and learn about sexual assault on college campuses. Or an online space that would have offered a counter-narrative to the campus rhetoric that hid sexual assault in some deep closet. Or a “like” or “share” that would have opened her eyes to what was happening to her friend and to other students on campus wasn’t okay and it wasn’t their fault. Because, today, in 2015, we’ve all seen the power social media activism has played in helping bring sexual assault on college campuses to the forefront. It is changing lives, bringing visibility to once-invisible toxic campus cultures, and beginning to hold perpetrators and institutions accountable.

Our research team getting down to business  at our research day this past fall at Georgia Tech.

Our research team getting down to business at our research day this past fall at Georgia Tech.

Over the past year, I’ve had the extreme privilege to collaborate on a research project started by Dr. Chris Linder to explore the strategies student activists are using to push the issue of sexual assault and institutional betrayal to the forefront of our national media, within the White House, and throughout the ivory tower of higher education despite the doubters that refer to online activism as “slacktivism.” As we gear up for a second year of Critical Social Justice which asks participants to examine the margins and intersections of issues and disturb the hierarchy of value associated with different forms of activism, I wanted to invite Dr. Linder as a guest to share more about our research in the hope that UMBC activists and one-day-activists consider ways in which social media can play an integral role in critical social justice on our campus, in Baltimore, and beyond.  Continue reading

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A Conversation about Critical Social Justice

Originally posted on BreakingGround:

Jess Myers is Director of UMBC’s Women’s Center.

Jess Myers 2015UMBC’s BreakingGround was integral in helping Critical Social Justice 2014 launch last year. Through the initiative’s commitment to bust boundaries, shape coalitions, and be agents of change, Critical Social Justice was able to offer a new way for campus to talk about social justice and provide outlets for community members to engage in difficult dialogues and build community. We appreciate the continued BreakingGround support as we move forward into year two of CSJ (February 16-20, 2015) with its theme of “Creating Brave Spaces.” During one of our recent planning meetings, I asked the planning team, comprised of Women’s Center and Mosaic Center staff members, to take a pause and discuss what we’re most excited about in preparing for this year’s CSJ, and how the theme of Creating Brave Spaces resonates with us personally and as UMBC community members.

How will CSJ 2015…

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The CSJ 2015 Calendar of Events is Now Available!

We are excited to announce the 2015 Critical Social Justice Calendar of Events!

CSJ 2015 Calendar

February 16th | Monday

CSJ 101: Introduction to Brave Spaces12PM to 1:30PM in Commons 329 – A fishbowl conversation on defining, navigating, and creating brave spaces. Event sponsored by: Women’s Center and Mosaic Center. Facebook, myUMBC

February 17th | Tuesday

Activism: What Works and What Doesn’t4PM to 5PM in Public Policy 208 – A presentation and discussion on how to organize and strategize for social movements. Event sponsored by: Amnesty International. myUMBC

February 18th | Wednesday

Women’s Center Occupies Main Street – 11AM to 2PM on Main Street in the Commons – Celebrating the multi-pronged mission of the Women’s Center as both a space for community building and comfort, as well as a space of social justice activism and brave space dialogues, the Center will be taking over Main Street with activities, crafts, campaigns, and refreshments. Event sponsored by: Women’s Center. Facebook, myUMBC

A Socio-Cultural Dialogue: The Immigrant’s Tale – 12PM to 1PM in the Mosaic Center – Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. invites students, staff, and faculty to discuss their experiences with immigration to the United States. Because immigration is not often discussed openly, we would like to create a safe and brave space where people can do just that and where people can also learn more about immigration. Event sponsored by: Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.

Social Justice Pedagogy: Tensions, Triggers, & Teachable Moments – 3PM to 4PM in Sherman 220A – An interdisciplinary faculty panel discussion on pedagogical approaches to cultivating safe and/or brave spaces for learning and social justice engagement. Panelists include: Dr. Kate Drabinski, Gender and Women’s Studies; Dr. April Householder, Gender and Women’s Studies and McNair Scholars Program; Dr. Jodi Kelber-Kaye, Honors College; Dr. Donald E. Knight, Psychology; and Dr. Dena T. Smith, Sociology and Anthropology. Event sponsored by: Women’s Center. myUMBC

Let’s Talk About It: The Health Crisis Affecting the African American Community – 5PM to 7PM in Lower Flat Tuesdays – Lecture and discussion with Dr. Shawn Bediako (Psychology) and Dr. Erica Taylor (Africana Studies). Light refreshments provided. Event sponsored by: Flat Tuesdays, University Health Services, National Society of Black Engineers, and Student Life’s Mosaic Center. myUMBC

Creating Brave Stages – 5PM to 7:30PM in UC 310 – Workshop and discussion with Jasmine Blanks of Everyman Theater on integrating social justice and theater. Event sponsored by: Critical Social Justice Student Alliance, Women’s Center, Women of Color Coalition. myUMBC Facebook

Franchesca Ramsey: Your Powerful Online Voice: Social Media For Social Change – 7:30PM to 10PM in the UC Ballroom – Franchesca Ramsey’s keynote lecture for CSJ 2015 will be about using the the internet as a platform for social justice activism. A Q&A session and reception will also follow the lecture. Doors open at 7pm. Free and open to the public. Event sponsored by: Women’s Center and Mosaic Center. FacebookmyUMBC

February 19th | Thursday

Invisible Privilege (Made Visible)  1PM to 3PM on Main Street in the Commons – The Mosaic Center hosts an exercise and discussion about recognizing the privileges that you hold–whether you are aware of them or not. Event sponsored by: Mosaic Center.

CSJ Reflection  3PM to 4PM in the Mosaic Center – Come discuss what you learned from CSJ 2015 and tell us what you want to see next year. Event sponsored by: Women’s Center and Mosaic Center

Making Queer Spaces Brave Spaces7:30PM to 9PM in the Women’s Center –  Although there has been significant progress made in expanding the safe(r) spaces available for queer-identified people, there has also been a pervasive and troubling misconception that queer space is necessarily safe space. This fallacy often obscures the unfortunate reality that queer spaces are not always safe for certain people/groups/identities, and queer communities are not exempt from perpetuating oppression. This roundtable discussion will address some of the problems and barriers preventing many queer communities from being truly safe and inclusive spaces. The program will also focus on how attendees can make changes in their own lives and advocate an intersectional approach to social justice in queer communities. Event sponsored by: Student Life’s Mosaic: Culture & Diversity Center and The Women’s Center at UMBC​. myUMBC Facebook.

February 20th | Friday

The Aftermath: Supporting Students of Color in Times of Crisis – 4PM to 5PM in the Mosaic Center – UMBC staff and faculty are invited to join this conversation about how we as a University and Division can show adequate support for students of color when it comes to racial issues on and off campus and in the media. During this conversation we will use Ferguson, Eric Garner, and the protests held on campus to highlight and share anything we did for our students in those moments or wish we would have done differently. There will also be a brainstorming session for things we would like to do moving forward to support ALL of our students including black, brown, white allies, and otherwise during high tension times of civil unrest in our country. Event sponsored by: Student Affairs: Staff Development Committee

Ask Big Questions Shabbat Dinner: “When are you brave?” –  6:15PM to 7:30PM on Main Street in the Commons – Students, faculty, and staff are invited to come together and share their experiences and a meal. The big question for tonight’s dinner is “When are you brave?” All are welcome to attend this event. Event sponsored by: UMBC Hillel

All Week

CSJ Art GalleryCommons Mezzanine Gallery
(artist statements available here)

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