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
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline extended until Sunday, February 8th!!!
Critical Social Justice week is fast approaching (February 16th to the 20th) and the theme this year is “Creating Brave Spaces”. To unpack and explore this idea, we had the Critical Social Justice Student Alliance tell us what the theme meant to them and how we can use it in our social justice work. Emily Eaglin, incoming president of this new student organization, created this helpful video that documents our conversation and expands upon what brave spaces can be. Even our keynote speaker, Franchesca Ramsey, shared the video on her YouTube page! Check out the video below:
We were inspired by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens’ article, “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces,” and for some highly recommended further reading, you can access it here.
If you’re interested in creating a program for the Critical Social Justice campaign, visit our About page for details!