Slaying on the Weekly: Oh Crap! What Now? + Other Survival Tips

A weekly round-up curated by Women’s Center staff member, Michael Jalloh Jamboria

In the spirit of my friend, who gave us the glorious name ‘Slaying on the Weekly’, every week I will be bringing you some interesting, funny or thought-provoking content from the internet! Be sure to join us next week for more and continue to slay!

Article of the Week:

The Women’s Center is dedicated to our mission. In our effects of promote gender equity and serve marginalized communities, we want to provide a few resources and encourage all of the UMBC Community to reach out to the Women’s Center. We want to hear your worries, questions and concerns. In the meantime, check out our list of resources.

UMBC Happenings:

Professors and activists within the Gender + Women’s Studies Dept have started a petition to Pres. Hrabowski and other provosts to make UMBC a sanctuary institution. Want to sign? Click on the link to add your name and affiliation to the petition!

This week was Black Lives Matter week. They had a plethora of great events that helped mobilize students and expand on their definition of Black Lives Matter. The UMBC event page for Black Lives Matter week has recounts and pictures from the week, in case you missed the festivities.

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Check out the Black Lives Matter memorial display on the Quad

Song of the Week:

I’ve been listening to really great music recently, and I want to share that with all of you! This week’s song is ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ by Bob Marley + the Wailers.

Before I leave you, I’m sure you are all aware that next week is Thanksgiving. I understand how difficult it can be to navigate going home and being with family, especially over longer periods of time. Feministing’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays is a great resource for tips pertaining to how to gendered expectations, political arguments and more. Take care!

Enjoy the Holidays! See you soon!

Self-Care for Thanksgiving

ciera-headshot  A blog written by Women’s Center student staff member Ciera Earl

November. It has been a month of triumph for some, but a great loss for most of us. While this month is coming to an end and the holiday season is beginning, it’s important to know how to handle the obstacles that may come with going home or visiting families during this time of year.

I know for myself, being around family is very difficult. Whether it’s from the constant questions about the future, my love life, or whatever “phase” I’m in this time – my anxiety goes through the roof. I’m sure many can relate.

But that actually bothers me. It’s unfortunate that in some way, shape, or form this is relatable for so many people.

Be that as it may, it’s important that while passing the gravy and dodging topics that you come first. Having a self-care plan can be a way to prepare for the challenges that come with the holiday season and families.

Here are a few tips on how to survive the holidays with family: 
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Our Mothers

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today we mourn the loss of our trans siblings to violence and celebrate their lives, bravery, and accomplishments. Today we honor our elders and those who paved the way before us. Today we use our mouths to speak the voices that have been silenced.

Below is a collection of art created by Amelia Meman for Women’s History Month 2015. These women, some alive and some not, are some examples of the amazing abilities, resistance, and resilience found in our community. This art has been compiled in zine format, available in print at the Women’s Center and in PDF form here.

Dedicated to Viv. We miss you.

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cece mcdonald was arrested on june 5, 2011 for the death of dean shmitz after shmitz’s girlfriend threw a glass in her face. shmitz and a group of friends harassed mcdonald and her friends outside a bar, shouting transphobic and racist slurs and comments at the group. when cece confronted the group, shmitz’s girlfriend threw the glass and a fight ensued. cece was charged with second degree murder and plead guilty to a charge of second degree manslaughter on june 4 of 2012. she was released on jan 13, 2014 after 19 months in men’s prison. activists raised a cry against anti-trans violence with shouts of “free cece” during her trial and prison sentence. since her release, cece has become an activist herself, working and speaking against the prison system and anti-trans violence and she has received the bayard rustin civil rights award from the harvey milk lgbt democratic club. a documentary titled free cece, directed by laverne cox and jac gares, is expected to be released in 2016

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Am I Sex Positive?

Shira Devorah A blog reflection by Women’s Center student staff member Shira Devorah

So I really love to talk about sex. It’s probably my favorite topic ever. I used to work for peer health education and with the sexual health committee at UHS here on campus. I’m considering becoming a therapist focusing on sex and relationships within the LGBTQ community.

I’ve always considered myself to be sex positive. But now I’m worried that identifying as such can be problematic.

Sex positivity, in a really bare-bones sense, is a movement that unpacks our taboo notions of sexuality and embraces and promotes human sexuality and personal exploration. There is a huge emphasis on safer sex and informed consent, encouraging respect for people’s personal preferences and boundaries.

I’m definitely here for all of this.

But what are the limitations of this movement?

At surface level, sex positivity is a really cool thing. I feel confident discussing birth control options and my needs with friends and partners. Sex positivity has really allowed me to open myself up as a person and not deny my interest and care about this subject. The fact that this movement exists means that I can one day work in a field devoted to improving sex lives for LGBTQ people.

But sometimes I wonder if I really want to call myself sex positive anymore. Is being sex positive actually accessible to other people?  Continue reading

Slaying on the Weekly: “Finish Your Ugly-Crying, Here’s What Comes Next” + resources

A weekly round-up curated by Women’s Center staff member, Michael Jalloh Jamboria

In the spirit of my friend, who gave us the glorious name ‘Slaying on the Weekly’, every week I will be bringing you some interesting, funny or thought-provoking content from the internet! Be sure to join us next week for more and continue to slay!

Things you should know:

As President Obama welcomes the President- elect, many are reminding others that he is #notourpresident. As we try to understand what this means for our communities and loved ones, be sure to watch Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. It’s disheartening yet inspirational and a call to action as we move forward as a nation.

Article of the Week:

Jess Myers, the director of the Women’s Center, wanted to share one of the articles of the week. Here’s Why We Grieve Today. Please remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to grieve. It’s ok to be sad, cry or scream. Your emotions are valid and if you need a place to process them, the Women’s Center will be here for you.

I’d also like to share Finish your Ugly-Crying, Here’s What Comes Next. The author shares things we can all do to support the “mental health and safety of your friends”.

UMBC Happenings:

There is great activism and craftivism in the works. Artist collectives and protests are happening all throughout Baltimore and other major cities. Get involved, reach out to the Women’s Center to share your needs and concerns. We want to be here with you as you grieve, heal and rebel.

 

Song of the Week:

I’ve been listening to really great music recently, and I want to share that with all of you! This week’s song is Keep Your Head Up by Tupac.

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I love you, I see your pain. We’re here for you. Until next week!

Healing My Community

Daniel Willey A reflection by Women’s Center staff member Daniel

Trigger warning for suicide mention; resources at the bottom of the post

My community experienced a tragedy early this October, and the ripples from the impact are still cascading across campus and beyond. I woke up that morning to several messages from friends and coworkers telling me what I already knew: a dear friend had passed from suicide.

This friend was a very private person whose spouse has also asked for privacy. In order to respect their wishes, this blog post isn’t about her. That said, I’m incredibly sad about her passing and I miss her every day and I certainly don’t want anybody to forget her. Ever. She was insatiably curious and incredibly smart. She cared deeply for her community and the students she encountered. And now she’s gone.

My friend was a trans woman and she was active in the community of queer and trans students on campus. Her death had an enormous impact on that community, and we continue to be impacted by it for many reasons. Many, and in fact most, of us in the queer and trans community live with mental illness, neurodiversity, or both, and to see it overtake someone who tried so hard for so long is discouraging at best. Mostly, it’s frightening. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on health and health care, 41% of trans people attempt suicide in their lifetime. In the face of all of this, it’s been so hard for my community to see the light.

But also in the face of all of this, I’ve seen some incredible coming together. We are a community who has had to learn how to take care of each other. It can be difficult because sometimes we can’t even take care of ourselves, but when shit really hits the fan I know I have people I can be with. There are people with whom I can cry and talk frankly about how fucking bad it feels. And then we hold each other and support one another and even though we’re all having a hard time, we’re doing it together.  Continue reading

Why do Disability Issues Matter?

Prachi KocharWomen’s Center intern Prachi Kochar discusses the importance of disability in relation to many important issues that are going on today, such as police brutality and the 2016 presidential election. Rather than have disability be an afterthought, it should be brought to the forefront of our discussions about social justice issues. 

In conversations about social activism and social change, we must remember who is not being talked about. Who is being left out of these conversations and why? In particular, I have noticed a significant amount of ignorance about issues related to people with disabilities throughout my college experience, and relating to several different issues, ranging from accessibility at UMBC to the rights (and respect) of people with disabilities in 2016’s presidential race to how people with disabilities, especially those who are people of color — and especially Black people — are treated by police. People with disabilities are also often left out of conversations about social justice. Think about the last time you heard about a protest, discussion about a social justice issue, or rally. Was there any mention of wheelchair accessible-seating or sign language interpreters? This is particularly striking because 19% of the U.S. population, or 56.7 million people, have some kind of disability.

The word “disabled” and its meanings are often not critically considered, but it is important to remember that just like other identities, such as gender, race, and class, it is socially constructed. This perspective of disability emphasizes that it is society that disables people by rendering some services and institutions inaccessible to people as well as stigmatizing those who are considered to have disabilities. For example, deafness is not considered a disability by the Deaf community because within the Deaf community, there are no barriers to communication — everyone is able to use sign language and communicate clearly. It is also important to recognize that all people with disabilities cannot be lumped together. Even people who seem to have the same “type” of disability may have different needs. This is why it is especially important to listen to diverse groups of people with disabilities and center their voices and experiences, rather than non-disabled people.  

Even though I am deaf, as someone who does not have any mobility issues, I initially did not realize how inaccessible UMBC’s campus is to people with mobility issues, especially wheelchair users. For example, getting to the Performing Arts and Humanities Building only seems like a minor annoyance to me, one that just requires giving myself an extra five minutes to walk up all those stairs. However, for someone in a wheelchair, chronic pain, or with crutches, it is necessary to navigate a labyrinth of ramps, building entrances, and elevators to make it to class. Furthermore, most classroom doors, and even some building entrances, do not have buttons that allow them to open automatically, meaning that they must be pushed or pulled to allow access. The same is also true for many bathroom entrances, even bathrooms that have wheelchair accessible stalls. In this way, UMBC creates more barriers for people with mobility issues. Accessibility issues at UMBC do not exist in a vacuum; they reflect how people with disabilities are viewed and treated in American society, intersecting with other dimensions of identity, such as gender, race, and class.

Police brutality against people with disabilities, especially those who are people of color, is an issue rarely spoken about, but it is a very major one. As found in a report that analyzed incidents of police brutality between 2013-2015, up to half of people killed by the police have a disability. Police officers are typically the first respondents to mental health crisis 911 calls, but they are often not trained to deal with various mental health issues as well as physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities. Furthermore, racism and anti-blackness as well as biases against people with disabilities – where they are perceived as “dangerous” and “non-compliant” greatly contribute to police brutality.

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Our Critical Social Justice keynote speaker Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha spoke about issues related to disability justice. You can watch the video of her lecture here!  (photo credit: Mike Mower)

Another major area in which disability issues are rarely discussed (except when something particularly shocking or offensive has been said) is the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. Yes, I can already hear your groans, but we need to talk about how people with disabilities could potentially be affected by this election, especially because many people with disabilities are women, LGBTQ+, or people of color who already face discrimination on those fronts. You’ve probably heard about Donald Trump’s mocking of a disabled reporter and him calling Marlee Matlin an ableist slur, but very little media attention has been given to the actual policy positions of both Trump and Clinton with regard to disability issues. However, these policies can actually be life or death for some people with disabilities.

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A major issue affecting people with disabilities is employment and salary equity. (credit: AIR.org)

Donald Trump has said little about people with disabilities with regard to official policy positions. Although he has praised himself for making the buildings on his properties accessible to people with disabilities (building wheelchair ramps, for example), this is mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Multiple cases have also come up in which lawsuits were filed because his properties did not comply with ADA guidelines.

Hillary Clinton has been much more vocal on the topic of disability rights, using the failings of Donald Trump to emphasize how she will support people with disabilities. However, while Clinton is miles ahead of Trump on disability issues, that does not mean she is perfect. Her campaign has been criticized for portraying disability rights from the perspective of those without disabilities, rather than amplifying the voices of people with disabilities. Furthermore, despite her stated support of people with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Clinton has not given much information on exactly how she will support people with disabilities and what specific issues she will address, creating doubt as to how effective she will be on disability-related policies. While it is important to recognize that Clinton is much better than Trump, it is also important to be critical of her policies and ask for better.

The Democratic Party has also shown their support of disability rights, by focusing on disability issues at the Democratic National Convention and having multiple speakers with disabilities as well as accommodations for all. Even though we have a long way to go with increasing accessibility for people with disability as well as awareness of the issues that people with disabilities face, it is possible for us, both people with disabilities and people without disabilities, to begin making a positive difference and to support disability justice. One of the major ways that we can do that is voting — so make sure you go out and vote if you are able to do so! Together, we can make a positive change and advocate for disability justice. 

Resource Round-Up