What You Need to Know About the Baltimore Walking Tour with Dr. Kate Drabinski

Get ready for Critical Social Justice: Rise with our What You Need to Know series. Written by Marie Pessagno.

Three years ago, the idea to incorporate a walking tour of Baltimore during Critical Social Justice week came into fruition. Since its implementation, it has been an integral part of CSJ. You may be asking yourself: “Why it is important to include a walking tour of Baltimore? How could walking through Baltimore possibly have anything to do with Critical Social Justice?  These are both great questions to ask, and so to give a thorough answer, I met with Baltimore implant, history enthusiast, and walking tour guide… Dr. Kate Drabinski.

In talking to Dr. Kate, I was made aware of the fact that not all UMBC students are familiar with the city of Baltimore outside of Camden Yards or the Aquarium. Dr. Kate expressed to me that “In order to fully understand and comprehend the complexities that the city of Baltimore represents, it is important to physically experience it.” The walking tour is only one (of many) ways in which we as a community can bring UMBC to Baltimore.

Baltimore is a city that has been recently been the object of many news stories because of the politicized and highly publicized experiences of violence and police brutality.  This has most recently been seen during the unrest that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray.  There is an upcoming HBO special set to air November 20 that is centered on the years of economic disenfranchisement as seen through the eyes of activists, journalists, and community residents to better tell their stories in hopes to be understood.  

The systematic racism and segregationist efforts in Baltimore began in the early 1900’s and continue to occur today.  The walking tour helps to “enable students to broaden their view” of Baltimore outside of the classroom and to give a first-hand account of where and how history shaped the city.

From last year’s CSJ: Home Walking Tour!

Dr. Kate plans on bringing the walking tour to Pratt Street, which holds an immeasurable amount of history. She does this in order to shed some light on the “depth of conflict that has occurred on Pratt Street.” By bringing students to an actual location in which uprisings have occurred and wars have been fought, she hopes to broaden students view and help them to learn to “pay attention to the space that they occupy so that they can see the world differently in order to advance their understanding of their environment.” She also hopes to show the different lenses of the historical perspective of how the city was built, who it was built by, and ultimately, who was it built for. By offering these alternate lenses, Dr. Kate aims to show how spaces are “built towards and away from social justice.”

Following the walking tour, Charm City Connection is hosting an event to link UMBC students to organizations that do work in the Baltimore community. Check out the flyer here! This is a great way to extend your knowledge of the city and the many opportunities and resources that are available to help serve our local community and to help better the city.



What You Need to Know About Adrienne Keene

Get ready for Critical Social Justice: Rise with our “What You Need to Know” series, starting with this introduction to our keynote speaker, Dr. Adrienne Keene! Her lecture, titled “Native Appropriations and Indigenous Social Media” will be held on Tuesday, October 24th at 6 PM in the University Center Ballroom (event details here). Written by Women’s Center student staff member Samiksha Manjiani.

As you grow up, I promise to protect you. I promise to continue to fight as hard as I possibly can to ensure a future for you. To protect you water, your sacred land, and your sovereignty. Whatever your future gender identity or who you choose to love, I will make sure you can be who are meant to be.

— Adrienne Keene, “Dear little one on your Birthday”


Our keynote speaker for CSJ: Rise is Adrienne Keene, a Native American activist, blogger, scholar, and writer. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Keene focuses on contemporary indigenous issues, and critically analyzes how the indigenous world is represented in popular culture. She often writes about cultural appropriation in fashion, music, and stereotyping in film and other media.

Adrienne is also an accomplished assistant professor for the American Studies Department at Brown University. She teaches courses on Indigenous Education, Native representations, and Native American Studies in general. In addition to teaching, she has a deep personal commitment towards empowering Native communities and privileging Native voices and perspectives in her research. Adrienne’s research focuses on educational outcomes for Native American students.

Adrienne’s blog, Native Appropriations, has achieved national and international recognition for its authentic and critical Native voice on contemporary indigenous issues. She uses her blog to challenge stereotypes and misrepresentations of Native Peoples.  Some hot topics include the Washington football team’s continued use of an ethnic slur for their team name, “hipster headdresses,” Halloween “Pocahottie” costumes, and Urban Outfitters’ appropriation of tribal art and culture.

Most recently, Adrienne has been actively raising awareness and advocating with other activists around Standing Rock, ND and the movement against the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. As you may know, the current administration has given the final green light to continue building the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline, but the activism around this issue has not ended. In fact, it has incited more people to rise up. Check out her guest appearance on Buzzfeed podcast Another Round for more information. She is also in the process of writing new pieces about Standing Rock, so check out her Twitter @NativeApprops to stay updated!

For more about Adrienne, check out:

Her blog: Native Appropriations

Her interview with Brown University on Native Misrepresentation

Her blogpost on “Questions Natives have for White People and White Fragility:”

Her Buzzfeed video, “9 Questions Native Ameicans have for White People”

Her Buzzfeed video, “I’m Native, but I’m not”

CSJ Rise Keynote Flyer - flattened - RGB