Social Justice Can Be Messy!

A reflection from Women’s Center Director, Jess Myers
This post was originally shared on the Women’s Center at UMBC’s wordpress blog

Last week, the Women’s Center staff completed spring training. As with all of our training days, we took the opportunity to explore our social identities in the spirit of self-exploration, team building, and a commitment to critical social justice. It’s something I look forward to each training knowing I always learn more about my fellow team members and myself.

This semester we did the Power of Assumptions activity which I’ve facilitated several times before at UMBC. It can be a great low-risk activity to get students considering their personal identities and those of others for the first time. It prompts students to consider how their identities have impacted their life experiences while also calling them to face assumptions and stereotypes they might have of others. With a student staff well versed in social justice 101, though, I wanted to take this activity to a new level, and conveniently the finding of bags full of yarn as we’ve been cleaning out the Women’s Center put me in the creative mood to do just that. Now, students would be asked to take a ball of yarn with them and leave a marker on each identity they visited throughout the exercise. As we were promoted with statements such as “This identity brings me the most joy,” This part of my identity is the most invisible,” “This part of my identity I have to defend the most,” and so forth, we moved around the Women’s Center leaving behind a paths of yarn that quickly took the shape of interesting tangled webs.

Our intersecting identities creating a web in the Women’s Center lounge

Our intersecting identities creating a web in the Women’s Center lounge

As I moved about the room, I quickly realized what a challenge it was to get to my next location as I walked over or under the yarn of my staff members. Suddenly, the yarn wasn’t just yarn but also the lived experiences and lives of the five others sharing the space with me. Continue reading

Submit Your Art to the Critical Social Justice Art Gallery!

Critical Social Justice 2015 is quickly approaching and we’re looking for art submissions to add to the CSJ 2015 Art Gallery! This year’s CSJ theme is Creating Brave Spaces and we’re asking for art submissions that explore and/or address what it means to create brave spaces.

Last year's CSJ art gallery located on the Mezzanine of The Commons.

Last year’s CSJ art gallery located on the Mezzanine of The Commons.

CSJ invites different types of activists — students, teachers, artists, musicians, doctors, and more — to talk critically about social justice and how they are creating change in their own unique ways. In addition to our discussions, keynotes, and reflections, the CSJ Art Gallery is intended to give another kind of voice and experience to the conversations we’re having on campus about social justice.

All UMBC community members are invited to submit their work by Wednesday, February 4th at 4pm Sunday, February 8th. Artists are asked to complete this form and email a jpg image of their artwork to womens.center@umbc.edu. 

Deadline extended until Sunday, February 8th!!!

Continue reading