What You Need To Know About Disability Justice

Get ready for Critical Social Justice: Home with our “What You Need to Know” series. The keynote lecture with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, titled “Body/ Land/ Home: Disability Justice, Healing Justice and Femme of Color Brilliance,” will be held on Tuesday, October 25th at 6PM in the University Center Ballroom (event details here).

disability-justice

by Auroura Levine Morales, Patty Berne and Micah Bazant

Disability justice is the continuation and expansion of disability rights, a movement that sought equal rights and access for disabled people, but was often constrained by its focus on mostly white and male individuals. Disability justice uses an intersectional lens to bring a more nuanced and active approach to the movement. By challenging assumptions about ability and embracing all kinds of bodies, the disability justice framework looks beyond the commonality of disability to incorporate other identities. 

Many people continue to be marginalized within conversations and activism around disability, despite its existence across all communities and populations; to counter these troubling hierarchies, disability justice centers the experiences and needs of queer people and people of color. Emphasizing the interconnectedness of oppression and people, disability justice demands the same integrated approach between all movements for liberation. 

“Disability exists in every sector of society: in immigrant communities, in prisons, in religious and spiritual communities, among veterans and homeless folks, among children and elders and everyone in between, so every movement has to advance disability justice, and vice versa. A movement that sees some people as disposable or able to be sacrificed is not disability justice.” – Nomy Lamm, This Is Disability Justice

More than just a theory, disability justice is a movement-building practice that calls upon people to actively protest, perform, and speak out against oppression and injustices globally.

Want to learn more about disability justice?

Baltimore 101

Our kick-off event for CSJ 2015 just ended and our brains are still buzzing. Dr. Kelber-Kaye, Associate Director of the Honors College, gave us a history lesson about Baltimore to give context to and explain why things are the way they are in Baltimore City. This information is an excellent foundation of knowledge to have when talking about Baltimore and to take with you to all of our other CSJ events.

Missed the event? No worries! Below is a recap of all the important information. Continue reading

Social Justice Can Be Messy!

A reflection from Women’s Center Director, Jess Myers
This post was originally shared on the Women’s Center at UMBC’s wordpress blog

Last week, the Women’s Center staff completed spring training. As with all of our training days, we took the opportunity to explore our social identities in the spirit of self-exploration, team building, and a commitment to critical social justice. It’s something I look forward to each training knowing I always learn more about my fellow team members and myself.

This semester we did the Power of Assumptions activity which I’ve facilitated several times before at UMBC. It can be a great low-risk activity to get students considering their personal identities and those of others for the first time. It prompts students to consider how their identities have impacted their life experiences while also calling them to face assumptions and stereotypes they might have of others. With a student staff well versed in social justice 101, though, I wanted to take this activity to a new level, and conveniently the finding of bags full of yarn as we’ve been cleaning out the Women’s Center put me in the creative mood to do just that. Now, students would be asked to take a ball of yarn with them and leave a marker on each identity they visited throughout the exercise. As we were promoted with statements such as “This identity brings me the most joy,” This part of my identity is the most invisible,” “This part of my identity I have to defend the most,” and so forth, we moved around the Women’s Center leaving behind a paths of yarn that quickly took the shape of interesting tangled webs.

Our intersecting identities creating a web in the Women’s Center lounge

Our intersecting identities creating a web in the Women’s Center lounge

As I moved about the room, I quickly realized what a challenge it was to get to my next location as I walked over or under the yarn of my staff members. Suddenly, the yarn wasn’t just yarn but also the lived experiences and lives of the five others sharing the space with me. Continue reading