Healing My Community

Daniel Willey This reflection by Women’s Center staff member Daniel Willey has been cross-posted from the Women’s Center community blog

Trigger warning for suicide mention; resources at the bottom of the post

My community experienced a tragedy early this October, and the ripples from the impact are still cascading across campus and beyond. I woke up that morning to several messages from friends and coworkers telling me what I already knew: a dear friend had passed from suicide.

This friend was a very private person whose spouse has also asked for privacy. In order to respect their wishes, this blog post isn’t about her. That said, I’m incredibly sad about her passing and I miss her every day and I certainly don’t want anybody to forget her. Ever. She was insatiably curious and incredibly smart. She cared deeply for her community and the students she encountered. And now she’s gone.

My friend was a trans woman and she was active in the community of queer and trans students on campus. Her death had an enormous impact on that community, and we continue to be impacted by it for many reasons. Many, and in fact most, of us in the queer and trans community live with mental illness, neurodiversity, or both, and to see it overtake someone who tried so hard for so long is discouraging at best. Mostly, it’s frightening. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on health and health care, 41% of trans people attempt suicide in their lifetime. In the face of all of this, it’s been so hard for my community to see the light.

But also in the face of all of this, I’ve seen some incredible coming together. We are a community who has had to learn how to take care of each other. It can be difficult because sometimes we can’t even take care of ourselves, but when shit really hits the fan I know I have people I can be with. There are people with whom I can cry and talk frankly about how fucking bad it feels. And then we hold each other and support one another and even though we’re all having a hard time, we’re doing it together.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Critical Social Justice: Home Round-Up

The spirit of the fourth annual Critical Social Justice aims to create space and learning opportunities to consider the ways we can challenge, explore, and redefine the concept of “home” based upon our individual and collective histories as well as our intersecting identities. Take a look back at some of highlights from throughout the week and catch up on anything you missed with the linked videos for the events!

The Women’s Center was bursting with excitement as Critical Social Justice quickly crept around the corner. All of our hard work and extra hours were finally coming to fruition and we were excited to share that with the rest of UMBC!

csjru1

On Monday, we kicked off CSJ with a panel discussion featuring some of UMBC’s finest faculty. Dr. Kate Drabinski, Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, and Dr. Thania Muñoz Davaslioglu joined us for CSJ 101 to lay down the foundations of our theme.

csjru2

csjru3

Dr. Moffitt left us with an amazing message as we ended the event. There is still so much space to grow and become better.

You can watch a recording of the event on our Facebook pageas well as check out our CSJ 101 round-up on Storify!

img_0258

Before the keynote event on Tuesday, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha sat with a few students to discuss mental health and accessibility issues at UMBC, as well what can be done to create space for more people on campus!

csjru5

As expected, Leah blew us away with her wisdom and experience as an disabled femme of color. She was real, funny, and painfully relatable. In her multifaceted speech, she spoke a lot about how she’s had to learn to listen to her body, create spaces where she and her community can be present and validated, and how we can celebrate the lives of the community members we’ve lost. If you missed it you can watch the video of the lecture below!

csjru7

csjru15

csjru8

csjru9

Women’s Center student staff members Michael and Mari shared their favorite moments from the keynote.

On Wednesday, the Women’s Center held a social justice activism workshop where students practiced skills for planning projects and taking action.

Later that afternoon, Student Life’s Mosaic Center hosted Shelter the Storm, a panel discussion focused on LGBTQ homelessness. In case you missed it, you can watch the recording of the event here.

joe

On Thursday, Women’s Center staff shared posters they’d researched and created for an exhibit at our Who Get’s a Home in College? event, which centered on diversity and inclusion in higher education. In recognition of the Women’s Center’s 25th anniversary, student staff did archival research to explore how the Center’s history has shaped its role on campus today. See the posters, zine, and Prezi here!

csjru18

We were joined by our panelists Dr. Nicole Cousin-Gossett (Sociology), Dr. Danyelle Ireland (CWIT), and Dr. Santiago Solis (Towson University), who spoke about institutional accountability regarding diversity and inclusion.

solisncg

On the last day of Critical Social Justice, Dr. Kate Drabinski led the Baltimore Walking Tour through downtown Baltimore.

img_2095

img_2104

At Research Park, Dr. Kate gave an extensive history of the area.

img_2109

Thanks again to all of our campus partners and everyone who participated in making the 4th annual Critical Social Justice a success!