A reflection written by Jess Myers, Women’s Center Director
The last time I passed by this wall was in February 2015. Before the murder of Freddie Gray. Before the Baltimore Uprisings. Before… I don’t remember what was on this wall, if anything. But walking down Greenmount Avenue yesterday afternoon on my way to visit the Monument Quilt‘s studio, I came to a full stop as the mural came to view.
It’s beautiful. And sad. And deeply powerful. It is activism. Baltimore Is Rising.
As we’ve been planning Critical Social Justice and immersing ourselves in its theme of Baltimore 365, I often come into the Women’s Center or to Critical Social Justice planning team meetings with more questions than I have answers. Will we do this right? Will we honor Baltimore in the way it needs to be? Will we respect its people in the way that they — we deserve? Knowing we can never cover all the issues, whose voice, whose experience, whose story will go untold?
I love Baltimore. Baltimore is my home. It is my heart. This city is my roots and the roots of my family.
But since the uprisings, I wonder if Baltimore is mine to claim? Who is Baltimore? Am I Baltimore? Continue reading
Critical Social Justice organizers Jess Myers, Zach Kosinski, and Jasmine Malhotra share a few of their thoughts on activism, their personal and professional experiences as activists, and social media’s role in activism.
JASMINE: I think about the feelings of social justice activism as being something that infuses within all parts of your life. Social justice activism involves how you interact with others, being able to actively listen and respect other options while sharing your knowledge and experience. It is about making any space into a brave space so individuals can be okay in having uncomfortable conversations in an effort to really understand each other’s opinion. Social activism can be expressed by people asking for change, protesting, or informing others. Social media can be one of the outlooks they use but there are many other ways they can practice their activism to cultivate change and make a true difference.
JESS: I agree with you, Jasmine, about the importance of both-and in activism. Through my research related to better understanding the strategies employed by activists involved in the movement to address sexual violence prevention and response on college campuses, I am learning that these activists are truly using the both-and approach. These local and national activists have repeated time and time again that social media is not their activism but that social media is a TOOL for their activism. They described using social media as a means to connect with other activists, as a tool for reducing power dynamics present in other spaces, and to increase awareness with populations who may not otherwise be reached. Consequently, I’ve become more critical with the discourse around “slacktivism.” Who gets to define what activism is and isn’t? Continue reading
Critical Social Justice organizers Amelia Meman, Lisa Gray, and Megan Tagle Adams share a few of their thoughts about self-care in/as social justice work.
AMELIA: Coming up on CSJ 2015, I’m thinking about generosity, compassion, and sustainability, especially in regard to how these connect with movement building and the self. I think about generosity in regard to the tough situations we get into (the difficult dialogues, you could say), and how I and others should be cognizant about the differences we are bringing into conversations and the mutual respect we all deserve; the generosity we extend is integral to building bridges and coalition. With our selves, in small conversations, in bigger conversations, between movements, I hope we can strive for generosity while continuing to work towards a more critical engagement. Compassion is directly related to how I try to deal with both myself, and others. I try to be aware of the needs of others, to listen and learn from them, to care and empower them, while also trying to know when I need to take care of myself—when I need compassion. This act of self-care and the generosity above are crucial to both my sustainability as a (critical) social justice warrior and to Critical Social Justice itself. Continue reading