Amelia Meman, ’15, Gender and Women’s Studies (GWST), is Grants and Marketing Intern at UMBC’s Women’s Center, Co-Leader of Women Involved in Learning and Leadership (WILL), and Director of Events with the GWST Council of Majors, Minors, & Certificates
To many, the words “Critical Social Justice” may mean little or maybe too much.
Is it a class?
A mode of thinking?
To me, it is all of those things. It’s an introduction to an academic lens, a new way of thinking, a celebration, an ongoing effort, and my brainchild.
CSJ came from my experiences as a student, a feminist, and an artist. I began to see all the gaps in social justice movements: the hierarchy of value associated with different forms of activism, the mainstream issues that take center stage and the issues that are silenced by the majority, and the lack of creative and critical programming on campus. There are so many ways to participate in social justice efforts, but they are not all recognized with the same amount of value and meaning. For example, the president of a reproductive justice lobbying group could be seen as the ultimate activist within mainstream feminist circles, but a part time artist who creates work on disability and her environment may not be seen with the same reverence as the president, though her work is powerful in a whole other way. Rather than replicating the social justice hierarchy in the creation of CSJ, we have consciously striven to create and facilitate a variety of different programs that open up a variety of critical dialogues on the UMBC campus. CSJ invites all different types of activists—whether a person is a student, a teacher, an artist, a musician, a writer, an engineer, a doctor, etc.—to talk about how they are creating change in their own unique ways. We encourage many different voices to come out and speak, because, in my mind, the contributions of a student forever questioning the status quo in class can be just as powerful a form of activism as a state senator pushing for prison reform. Continue reading