By Jasmine Malhotra, Graduate Coordinator for Cultural Programs with Student Life’s The Mosaic: Center for Culture & Diversity
UMBC’s Critical Social Justice (CSJ) Week 2015 will be February 16 -20th. As we get closer to the week and all the exciting events that will take place, you may be wondering how you can participate. What makes planning a social justice event different than planning any other event?
First, before planning a social justice event, discussion, or activity, it’s important to understand what social justice means. We recommend doing some more research on your own. A great article to read is “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue around Diversity and Social Justice” by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens. We also encourage you to read Amelia Meman’s CSJ blog post “Why ‘Critical Social Justice.’” Have more questions about the Critical Social Justice campaign? The Women’s Center or Student Life’s Mosaic Center staff will be offering drop-in info sessions, so stay tuned to the CSJ Facebook page for details.
Here are a few tips to help you start your event planning. You can also check out the Critical Social Justice Toolkit for more information on engaging in difficult dialogues. Once you have your basic plan, send us your idea here and get ready to help make a difference!
Social Justice Event Planning Tips:
Step 1: Planning to plan: Pick people whom you can depend on and who are truly committed to making this event happen. Be mindful of diversity – both visible and invisible – and invite people to join you with various social identities so you can really understand your event from all different perspectives.
Step 2: Choosing your theme or what aspect of social justice you want to bring attention to: There are tons and tons of different subtopics, related to social justice from inhumanity towards animals to unequal access to education. Pick a topic that your whole group agrees on and is passionate about.
Step 3: Do some research on your topic to understand who the least advantaged group is and how there is unequal power. Try to understand the issue from multiple perspectives and think about how it impacts people locally and globally. Why and how is this power inequality perpetuated and why does it matter?
Step 4: While it’s impossible to educate people on the entire scope of a particular social justice issue through just one program, think about ways you might introduce people to the central ideas and relevance of the issue. Look for inspiration online and brainstorm ideas with others involved with your event. Find an interesting way to engage the community in your event while also making them understand your issue. The best types of events are often the ones in which people are involved and engaged. Get creative with your idea!
Step 5: Plan the details of your event (e.g. reserving a space, buying materials, publicizing the event, etc. ) and make sure all the planners know what their role is in making the event happen.
Step 6 (Optional but usually helpful): Have opportunities for additional reflection after your event, whether it’s a discussion space or time for writing responses or other thoughts. Also, give participants ideas on how the can stay educated on your topic though further reading, videos, and online resource pages. Share how they can help create change around this topic with potential theme-related service opportunities and advocacy materials.