Critical Social Justice: Rise (A CSJ 101 Round-Up)

Critical Social Justice: Rise is here and we kicked off the week today as we always do with each Critical Social Justice (this is our 5th annual!) with CSJ 101. As the kick-off to the week, CSJ 101, creates the foundation for the issues and themes we’ll explore during Critical Social Justice.

CSJ RISE - save the date - square - RGB

This year’s Critical Social Justice theme is Rise.  As we discussed in CSJ 101, to us, Rise is the call to cultivate individual and collective resistance and resilience within social justice issues and movements. We hope that CSJ events throughout the week will challenge us to think about the importance of both resistance and resilience by examining how we can do better, do more, and persist in doing it. During this particular cultural moment in our world, how do we rise to meet both opportunities and challenges in an effort to work toward a vision of inclusive excellence—whether it’s in the classroom, online, or in our communities?

To get folks excited for Critical Social Justice, leading up to the start of the week, we asked UMBC community members what they rise for and here is (a sampling) how they responded:

Messages from above photos include: “Those who are silenced in our society,” “violence against women,” “Women in STEAM,” “radical empathy,” “all students to succeed academically,” “reproductive health and justice,” “Islamophobia and religious oppression,”  “the folks that don’t think they can,” “those who are too scared to speak out,” “those who are learning to find their voice,” and “social justice.” 

At today’s CSJ 101, we took that founding question and explored not just what we rise for but why we do it, why it matters, and what we do to cultivate resiliency in our movements to create positive social change. Led by co-facilitators, Amelia Meman from the Women’s Center, and Dr. Julie Murphy from Psychology, participants sat together in groups and shared with each other how resistance and resilience takes shape in their lives.

Over the course of the event, Julie and Amelia deconstructed Rise by parsing out what participants were rising for, and how they planned to manage that. The conversation began with Amelia discussing how the metaphor for Rise helps her deepen the theme: the sun rises every morning without fail, and sheds light on both the glaring problems and the glorious beauty of the world. We are bid, every morning, to rise and find solutions or to celebrate. The issues we find, as well as the blessings can be new, but they can also be ancient.

Just so, Julie discussed the lessons we can learn from Dr. Adrienne Keene, our keynote lecturer, as well as the history of activism in the Native American community. As a people that has been actively fighting for their rights and for power, social justice activists can learn a lot from the collective and individual resistance, as well as the resilience of indigenous peoples.

To get the ball rolling, groups first began with a discussion of “resistance.” They answered questions like What do you rise for? What are you most passionate about? From these questions and the ensuing discussion, the following points were raised:

  • Despite the very wide range of topics that we covered, as well as the diversity in experiences, everyone who was gathered in UC 310, was present because they wanted take the next step in creating social change. Many brought up the recent political climate and news stories, as impetus for attending this event.
  • Activism isn’t just showing up to a rally with a sign. In fact, it has to be such much more than that! Activism is often a life calling and woven into the fabric our academic endeavors and careers. For some, survival is engaging in resistance and activism.
  • Resistance is also about accessibility and inviting others into the movement. Creating tools that are readily available to others is important to help others participate in positive social change.
  • Individual actions contribute to collective actions and change. Both the individual and community are essential.

After talking about resistance, we transitioned into talking about “resilience.” The group discussed their answers to questions like How do you continue rising? How do you stay engaged? How do you take care of yourself/others?

  • Julie shared her family’s post-2016 election activity. She and her family were passionate about resistance and had many issues that they cared about. Julie noted that everyone in her family noted that they would have to quit jobs/school/everything in order to fulfill the work that they wanted to be done. Rather than doing so, Julie and Family made a list of everything they cared about and strategized the things they could do individually and the things they could do as a family. Rather than burn out by doing too many things, Julie and Family chose reproductive rights and justice as the issue that they would work on together as a family.
  • One participant provided the insight that resilience and activism can be about understanding resources and getting people connected to them. Amelia piggybacked off of this statement and added that as a social worker, we understand that we don’t have to do everything, because we can’t possibly do everything. Social workers can only do what we have competency in and what we feel comfortable doing–and everything else can be helping people get connected.
  •  Similarly, another participant brought up that she used her unique talents, strengths, and skills to help where she could: as a Greek folk dancer, she decided to visit a predominantly Greek senior living facility and perform. The seniors there were excited to take part and were able to feel more connected and active. That was what this student could do and offer. We all can benefit the causes we care about by highlighting our strengths no matter how big or small they may be.

At the same time as CSJ 101, other CSJ volunteers and staff were outside on Academic Row at Chalking For Change asking passersby that same foundational question and encouraging them to share “Why I Rise.”

Messages from above photos include: “respect and tolerance,” “human rights,” “get beyond ‘book learning,'” “black women,” “the deaf community,” “Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Mike Brown,” “for the full inclusion of immigrants and refugees,” for the full inclusion of LGBTQ + women in public office,” “more mental health resources for POC and LGBTQ POC,” and “social justice + love.” 

From the conversations at both CSJ 101 and Chalking for Change, it is evident that what motivates community members to rise up for social justice and social change is diverse and varied. It could even feel overwhelming to think of all the work that awaits us. Yet, as discussed at CSJ 101, individual actions contribute to the actions of the community. Our individual passion and work influences the passion and work of the collective. We are not alone. Together we are better. Together we can make a difference on our campus, in our neighborhood, and throughout the country and our world.

So, why do you rise? 

We invite you to join us for the rest of this week’s Critical Social Justice: Rise events. Contribute to the conversation or follow along on social media using #CSJrise.

For more Chalking For Change photos and videos, follow the Women’s Center Facebook page. 


Critical Interactions and Authentic Engagement

Tonight our partners in Student Affairs are hosting Critical Interactions, an interactive program where students will join INTERACT Program peer facilitators to explore how they each make meaning of ‘home.’

But what is INTERACT?

A collaboration between the Division of Student Affairs and the Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication Department, INTERACT aims to provide first-year residential students with specific training in intercultural communication and authenticity.

As a university focused on innovation and ground-breaking research, it is the hope of this collaborative to enhance incoming students’ confidence and competence in diversity and inclusion in order to prepare them for their time at UMBC and beyond.


Critical Interactions will be held tonight (Oct. 24th) from 7:30-9pm in University Center 310. 

For a full list of Critical Social Justice: Home events, click here.

The Price of Home

A blog reflection by Joe Levin-Manning, Graduate Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs

In our society today there are numerous people without the tangible home that we label as homeless or home-challenged; but have we thought about those that are lacking home security/stability? Many vulnerable groups are on the verge or edge of losing the homes they have currently. These people include (but aren’t limited to) the LGBTQ community, lower income persons/families, and immigrants. These groups are often the subject of discrimination just because they exist.
Home is usually defined as a place a person goes for shelter, for safety, and for a sense of normalcy. Home is something we think of as both a literal and a figurative place in our society. But what truly makes a home a home? How is it decided who gets a home and who doesn’t? How do you get to keep a home that you may have created or earned for yourself?
For many LGBTQ individuals, myself included, you worry what will happen when you come out to someone. Whether that person is a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a boss. It is a nerve-wracking experience that can have dire consequences. For those that are unaware, there are many intangible things on the line in addition to all of the tangible one. It goes beyond the loss of a place to call home, which is a traumatic experience in its own right. You start to lose your self of self.
For many of us, so much of who we are is made up or defined by our homes. Your parents/families are the first to give you a set of values to believe in. At home is when you are taught to feel safe and comfortable. The security that you feel at home is supposed to make you feel strong and confident. However, these things are only true if you feel that you belong there. Even if you are living in a home you may not feel at home if you are not able to be truly and completely yourself. In those situations, is that really a home? Is this a place that you are meant to be? Many are forced to say yes because you need the physical, financial, and practical support that is associated with it. Like many others, I did not know how I could or would afford to finish college without the support of my “family”. In this situation, you are forced to hide who you are or to be someone other than yourself.
For some, coming out is a story of acceptance, love, and familial warmth. For others, coming out is a story of pain, longing, loss, and hope. The pain of rejection that stings to the very depth of your soul. The longing for an idea of how things could have been if you were born any other way. The loss of the future you thought you had or the stability and support you need. The hope you force yourself to believe in until you finally find the place you were meant to be full of love, laughter, and support. The journey and the struggles that one faces along this path will be different from the next person but all have one thing in common. They all shape us to be something more than we thought or imagined and it is the price we paid for our sense of home today.
(“Family” – the person you are related to by blood or law. Not to be confused with family – those that you chose to be members of your support network.)
Joe Levin-Manning
Graduate Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs

This piece was written as we look forward to Critical Social Justice: Home next week. Student Life’s Mosaic: Center for Culture and Diversity will be hosting a roundtable discussion about the struggles of homelessness as it affects the LGBTQ community in many different facets.


If you would like to send questions in advance or submit your own story to be shared during the event please visit:


For more information on the event visit:

What You Need to Know: Baltimore & Residential Segregation (A New Student Book Experience Pre-CSJ Event!)

Get ready for Critical Social Justice: Home with our “What You Need to Know” series.

Last year’s Critical Social Justice: Baltimore 365 was dedicated to understanding the historic and current day complexities and realities of Baltimore City. In the wake of the Baltimore Uprising, the CSJ planning team felt (and still does feel) deeply committed to creating more opportunities for our campus community to connect with and understand Baltimore. This year’s CSJ theme of Home allows for the conversation and learning about Baltimore to continue.

How does a legacy of residential segregation impact the creation and/or destruction of “home” in Baltimore? 

What does it mean to “be home” for residents of Baltimore City? 

Which Baltimore neighborhoods are perceived as homes? And, which ones are perceived as less than? How does race, gender, and socioeconomic status show up in our responses? 

How does policing in Baltimore and the recent release of the Department of Justice report impact the reality of home? 

This year, all incoming first-year and transfer students were asked to read Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City by Antero Pietila which tells the story of how racial segregation came to be and what its impact is through the story of Baltimore. Mr. Pietila will be visiting campus to explore some of the questions above (and more) at this year’s New Student Book Experience event on Thursday, October 13th. This is a great way to kick-off Critical Social Justice: Home and we hope to see many of you there!


For more details about the New Student Book Experience “Meet the Author” event, visit the event post on myUMBC. 


Critical Social Justice: Home Events!

Take a look at all the events lined up for Critical Social Justice: Home! (Click here for a PDF of the flyer.)


 October 24th | Monday

Critical Social Justice 101: Foundations of Home – 12PM to 1PM in Commons 331 – A moderated panel discussion exploring a few of the many interpretations of how our theme of “home” relates to social justice. Panelists include: Dr. Kate Drabinski (Gender + Women’s Studies), Dr. Kimberly Moffitt (American Studies), and Dr. Thania Muñoz Davaslioglu (Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication).

Critical Interactions7:30PM to 9PM in University Center 310 – Peer facilitators and recent program participants will share their experiences with the INTERACT program, a Student Affairs initiative housed in Chesapeake Hall followed by a hands-on educational experience where attendees will craft, discuss and question what makes a home. Sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs.

October 25th | Tuesday

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Keynote Lecture: “Body/ Land/ Home: Disability Justice, Healing Justice and Femme of Color Brilliance” – Doors open at 5:30PM, keynote begins at 6PM in the UC Ballroom – A meet-and-greet reception and book-signing will follow the keynote. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a disabled femme of color writer and performance artist whose award-winning work on disability, survivorhood, and transformative justice speaks to the many complexities inherent in navigating our way home. Facebook event

October 26th | Wednesday

Social Justice Activism Workshop – 12PM to 1PM in the Women’s Center – Learn practical skills for organizing activist projects, discuss strategies for navigating common challenges, and gain new insights into how you can create change on campus or in your community. Sponsored by the Women’s Center.

Shelter from the Storm: Mosaic Center Roundtable4PM to 5:30PM in Commons 329 – A roundtable discussion with students, alumni and community activists about the home challenges faced by LGBTQ youth. Intersectional perspectives of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion and socioeconomic class will be explored. Sponsored by Student Life’s Mosaic: Center for Culture and Diversity.

October 27th | Thursday

Who Gets a Home in College? 11:30AM to 12:30PM on Commons Main Street – Panelists will discuss how institutional barriers impact the ways marginalized students find (or don’t find) themselves at home on campus. Panelists include: Dr. Nicole Cousin-Gossett (Sociology, Anthropology & HAPP), Dr. Danyelle Ireland (Center for Women in Technology), and Dr. Santiago Solis (Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs/Diversity at Towson University). 11AM to 1PM – Exhibit in recognition of the Women’s Center’s 25th anniversary. Sponsored by the Women’s Center. 

October 28th | Friday

Walking Tour of a Baltimore Neighborhood 12PM to 3PM, meet in the Women’s Center – Join us for a 90-minute walking tour of a Baltimore neighborhood to learn about its history and present from a social justice lens. Led by Dr. Kate Drabinski. Free tickets available at the CIC desk during October.

More details and events will be announced leading up to CSJ: Home, so like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and use the hashtag #CSJhome to keep up-to-date with the latest news!

* All events are free and open to the public.

** Contact if you need special accommodations. 

The Women’s Center and Student Life’s Mosaic Center appreciate the support of our Critical Social Justice: Home co-sponsors: Residential Life  |  College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences  |  Office of Institutional Advancement  |  Honors College  |  LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Association  |  Women Involved in Learning and Leadership  |  Student Disability Services  |  Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Health Administration and Policy  |  Department of Media and Communication Studies |  Department of  Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication | Off-Campus Student Services | Language, Literacy, and Culture