Women in Politics Roundtable Round-Up

16665235_1240042186074587_3406555264375312519_oThe Women’s Center’s Spring Roundtable series has begun! On February 14th, we hosted the first of our three-part roundtable “Underrepresentation of Women in…” series. This roundtable was on “Women in Politics” and focused on the lack of women in the political sphere and the establishment.

For this discussion, our panelists were Political Science professor Lisa Vetter, Language Literacy and Culture student Colonel Ingrid Parker, and student staff member Kayla Smith.

The discussion opened with a question about gendered communication and how to express femininity in a workspace that’s male dominated. Kayla and Colonel Parker both agreed that being a “chameleon,” or being fluid in how they present themselves based on their audience, has worked for them in the past. 

The conversation then turned to Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss. The suggestion was made that the glass ceiling was now higher than it had previously been as a result of someone as qualified as Clinton losing to someone as seemingly unqualified as President Trump. People in politics may be more scared to back women running for office because women don’t seem to get the votes to take office. Therefore the goal of making a woman president is even more elusive. Furthermore, after learning that some women need to be asked more than five times to run for office, there was some concern that Clinton’s loss would discourage more women from entering the political sphere for fear of disappointment; however, Colonel Parker reminded everyone that the next step should be to stay hopeful and push forward no matter what happens. 

When Jess Myers asked about the silencing of Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor during the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Kayla pointed out that the silencing of Elizabeth Warren was really the silencing of Coretta Scott King. Kayla went on to explain that, because her feminism is intrinsically connected to her race, it’s impossible for her to ignore the ramifications she faces in the establishment due to being a black woman. 

When the discussion was opened up to the audience, a student asked a question about coping with the effects of mental health when looking at barriers to women in politics. Colonel Parker spoke about the benefits of finding coping mechanisms like eating well, spending time with family, and working out. Kayla suggested finding supportive groups of women to help and uplift you in the face of adversity. Women’s Center Assistant Director Megan Tagle Adams added that it isn’t always enough for their to be more women in a space but that they should also be supportive of women excelling instead of engaging in “mean girl” tactics.

Another audience member asked Kayla what her opinion was on changing the establishment to include women and people of color to which she responded, “It’s important for people to be educated. They need to learn that our government and political system is built on white supremacy, racism, and sexism. Nothing will change until people understand where we started and that those things still play a major role in our system.”

Overall, the subject of women’s underrepresentation in politics is vast and complicated and while we barely scratched the surface in this hour long discussion, we did our best to open the dialogue and get people talking and thinking.

Want more information? Below are some links further discussing women, the establishment, and politics.

So has this discussion fired you up? Are you interested in running for office (public, school, or otherwise)? Have you heard about Elect Her? Elect Her is a leadership program that encourages and trains college women to run for student government and future political office

There is an an Elect Her workshop on March 11th from 10:30-3:30 in Fine Arts 011. You will learn how to figure out what your message and platform is, how to craft a communication strategy that works, and you’ll hear from campus and community leaders about what it takes to win. It is going to be a great day!

If you have questions or want to RSVP, contact Dr. Kate. (drabinsk@umbc.edu.)

 

Slaying on the Weekly: Resist and Rise

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:

February is Black History Month! Join us in celebrating the lives, activism and labor of African-American and Black activists, scholars and thinkers this month.

Immigrants in the US have become subjected to violent mass raids and deportation. DREM, Desis Rising Up and Moving, created a Guide for Sharing Reports on Social Media.

Article of the Week:

Do you ever find yourself asking “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement? What does it consist of and why should it matter to me?” That’s ok! Everyday Feminism has a great video on What You Need to Know About Black Lives Matter.

 

UMBC Happenings:

The Women’s Center is continually dedicated to support throughout this semester and beyond. February is full of events and programs, all of which are geared towards expanding our knowledge and understanding of feminism and social justice. Join us for our Money 201: Basic Investing Program.

Next month is Women’s History Month. The Women’s Center is excited to be joined by Loretta Ross, a reproductive rights activist, for our Women’s Rights as Human Rights in the Age of Trump Keynote.

Woman of the Week: 

During Black History Month, Slaying on the Weekly will be featuring inspiring, innovative or groundbreaking black women. This weeks WOTW is Katherine Dunham. Katherine was an anthropologist who studied African, Caribbean and Black dance movements in the 1920s and elevated Black dance and movement in the US. Thanks Katherine!

katherine_dunham

Katherine Dunham, the Godmother of Black dance 

Continue to slay! Stay warm! Until next week!

Balancing School, Anxiety and Activism in Tumultuous Times

 

shira-spring-headshot a short reflection by Shira Devorah, Women’s Center student staff member

This semester has only just begun, and I’m already feeling pretty anxious. Granted, I’m usually pretty anxious – but this feels different.

If you’ve been following the news recently, you may understand. For many marginalized groups, it’s hard to feel stable right now. While I’m privileged in many ways, integral parts of my identity are under attack right now.  I’m proud of being a queer Jewish woman, but these parts of who I am feel very vulnerable and exposed at the moment. My uncertainty is manifesting as physical sensations. There’s a constant tightness in the pit of my stomach, and it’s hard to focus on things outside of the instability surrounding me. This is a difficult moment in time, and I want to be doing something about it, but my mental illness flare-ups make me question my ability to do so. I want to help, but  I also have to take care of my anxiety.

Amidst the current chaos, it is also my last semester at UMBC. If I know myself at all, this means I may be more susceptible to anxiety attacks during this life change. School work is a balancing act for me, and while I’ve had a few shaky semesters, I care a lot about my education. Most of my anxiety is tied up in how well I do, and this is my last chance to (literally) make the grade. UMBC students are held to a high standard of excellence, and I want my last semester to reflect this. To meet my personal achievement goals, I have to put a lot of energy into my studies. This can be draining and difficult to juggle with clinical anxiety.

I’m sure I’m not alone – Many people, especially women, deal with anxiety.  I’ve talked to a bunch of friends who live with similar anxiety conditions. We’re all struggling to figure out how to contribute, how to be present for people and speak up. It can be really, really difficult- but I know it isn’t impossible.

I’m aware that I haven’t been as active as I would like to be. My form of anxiety feels like being blocked up, like all of these things are happening at once. Everything becomes muddled and difficult to parse. I’ve been mostly absent from social media as of late, because it’s been difficult to come up with the words for what I’m feeling. I have not attended any protests, as I get very overwhelmed in large crowds. Sometimes I feel like I have to remove myself from political conversations and go hide away. I know I’m just trying to consider my mental health, yet I have this nagging sense that I’m not doing enough. I want to be a more  prepared and available activist, but my identities as a student and mentally ill person have a habit of getting in my way. When I’m not exhausted from a full load of classes, I’m immobilized by my anxious mind. Things can get overwhelming very easily.

Even though it’s hard to be fully present at the moment, it has been possible for me to do some really small things without exacerbating myself. While I’ve more or less stayed off of Facebook, I’ve been able to use other platforms like Twitter and Tumblr to spread information and support. With Facebook, I feel pressured to add my two-cents to everything I share or to write something from scratch. This can be very anxiety provoking for me. So instead, I’ve stuck to the classic ‘read and re-tweet’. This way, I get to stay informed and promote the work of activists without having to author anything personally.

active-while-anxious

Here’s an example of a doodle I made for this blog post

While I can’t really go to protests, I follow them diligently. If there is a live stream, you can bet I’m watching it. I have a hard time making phone calls, but I can sign a petition or send an email like a champ. I’ve been coming up with ideas for art that I can make, which is usually a therapeutic process for me. Mainstream forms of protesting are not the only way to contribute to a movement. I know my strengths lie in my artistic capabilities, So I can maneuver around my anxieties and continue to create and share activist art. I know that I am far more than my mental illness, and anyone going through a similar time can use their own strengths in similar ways. Working at the Women’s Center makes me feel like I have the capability to do good things and give support to people. So even though I know I’m limited in the activist work that I can do right now, this doesn’t mean I have to stand still.


If you’re going through something similar, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone, and there are valuable contributions that you can make in this difficult time.
Just because your form of activism might not look the same as others, the work you do isn’t any less valid. Everyone has the capability to help in different ways. What is important is finding a way accessible to you, while taking care of your own needs. I know I’m not always going to be able to write the right words or yell in a crowd, but I can do something, and that something can make a difference.

*****

If you’re interested in more resources on how to get involved if you have anxiety, check out the following resources!

Bustle wrote about protesting while socially anxious

Everyday Feminism on how marching isn’t the only way to be an activist

How to call your reps when you have social anxiety

four tech tools to help you get involved

Check out the Counseling Center- they are hosting a variety of  mindfulness workshops this semester

 

spring-counseling-center

Slaying on the Weekly: Let Beyonce Bless Your Day

View story at Medium.com

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! Due to scheduling not working, we’re posting last weeks SOTW today, which is great! Why you ask? Because now we get to talk about Beyonce!

Things you should know:

February is Black History Month! Join us in celebrating the lives, activism, and labor of African-American and Black activists, scholars and thinkers this month.Who better to celebrate than the celestial being that is Beyonce. Did you catch her performance on the Grammy’s last night? Check it out here! 

UMBC Happenings:

The Women’s Center is continually dedicated to support throughout this semester and beyond. February is full of events and programs, all of which are geared towards expanding our knowledge and understanding of feminism and social justice. Join us for our first Roundtable discussion, What Now? UMBC Police Meet & Greet and Money 201: Basic Investing Program.

The Mosaic Center released a list of Black History Month Events available on the myUMBC Mosiac Center page. Be sure to download the list.

Woman of the Week:  

During Black History Month, Slaying on the Weekly will be featuring inspiring, innovative or groundbreaking black women. This week’s Woman of the Week is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, so much so that she is regarded as the Godmother of Rock and Roll. Check her out! 

beyonce-grammys-1486952071

A Time to Resist + A Time to Take Care

amelia-meman-headshotA reflection written by Women’s Center Special Projects Coordinator, Amelia Meman

So here we are. Another day in this brave new world.

Are you exhausted yet? Emotionally, physically, psychologically?

If you’re not–congratulations! That’s really good and you are a sweet glowing angel.

If you are, though, you’re not alone and you are also a sweet glowing angel.

deadI’m tired, too. For all of us feminists, social justice warriors, and snowflakes, this is a tough time. The stream of executive actions and questionable cabinet appointments have rocked our communities and have malignantly affected some of the most vulnerable groups in the U.S. The fights we’ve been engaging in throughout every administration have been exacerbated and fear is alive more than ever. 

Seeing the reaction from social justice activists has been heartening for me in many ways. The women’s march was awesome and huge (though not without its fair share of criticism from Black women, the trans community, and many others). Other demonstrations against the refugee ban and the massive uptick in people contacting their elected representatives to demand accountability has shown us that massive swathes of the public have been activated to resist in a great variety of ways.

This work is both vital and neverending. Making an impact is difficult, exhausting work. It involves massive amounts of human energy. What I’m ultimately getting to is this: are you taking care of yourself right now?

The Women’s Center is all about self-care, and I want to stress (get it?) how necessary it is to take care of ourselves as activists. Energy doesn’t come to us out of nowhere. It is derived from resting and caring for ourselves.

As you continue your activist work, here are some things to think about:

Give yourself enough credit

tina-high-five-selfDuring this chaotic time, it’s hard to think that we can ever do enough to even make a dent in the system, but you’re so much more powerful than you think. Marches, rallies, and demonstrations are powerful events that increase the visibility of resistance. Regardless of the presidential administration, communicating with legislators is an important part of holding the government accountable to the people. Going to different forums and meetings is a great way to connect with others and get tasks completed. These are some of the actions a lot of people might associate with activism, but there are many other ways to be an activist.

If you are reading a book on social justice, politics, racial justice, feminism, queer theory, etc. you are participating in activism, because you’re learning and informing your activism praxis. If you talk with your friends about politics and learn from one another, that’s a way of participating in activism, because you are creating a transformative moment. If you’re in a class that is helping you talk to others, build things, write, manage money, research, provide medical care, whatever, you are learning skills that are so necessary for activists. 

Finally, taking care of yourself is important. It is paramount to being able to do anything ever. So give yourself credit for what you’re doing, whether it’s leading a march or knowing when you need a break.

Make a plan (for activism and for recuperation)

Whatever you’re doing, try to make a plan. When you tell yourself you’re only going to attend the rally for three hours, only attend the rally for three hours. Activism work can be all-consuming. It’s hard to do, and the work is always there, so it can be easy to fall into the rabbit hole. When you do activist type things, try to be informed about the event/activity (i.e. if you’re attending a march, try to have a buddy and/or know some emergency phone numbers) and also make sure to create a plan for recuperation afterwards (i.e. after you go to the march, take a relaxing bath or meditate by yourself). When you make a plan (and keep to the plan), you manage your time and help sustain yourself.

Be authentic to who you are and listen to yourself

Hey, if you don’t like going to big public protests, don’t go. If you dread the thought of being alone and reading a big political theory tome, don’t do it! There are always alternatives for activism. Reflect on what you like to do, what resonates with you, what gives you life, and then think about how that can be of use in the activist environment. Don’t go about forcing yourself to be something that you aren’t, because who you are is exactly what we need.

And if you feel yourself in need of a break from social media or calling legislators, take the break. Listen to yourself. You know you best.

Talk with other activists

group-hugSometimes the best way to take care of yourself is with a little “ventilation and affirmation” session (thanks School of Social Work for that phrase!). Talk with other activists! We need to support each other in this time, and I think many of us are eager to connect. Despite the sometimes overwhelming desire to isolate in the wake of bad news, sometimes reaching out can be just as healing.

Talking with other activists can also introduce you to new ideas, strategies, communities, all kinds of things. So whether it’s for support or to gain insight (or both), reach out and talk with folks.

Challenge yourself

I know I’ve discussed being gentle with yourself, but there’s “being gentle” and then there’s “coddling.” Self-care can oftentimes be misconstrued as an excuse to dip out of activism. Certainly, you shouldn’t force yourself to do something that you’re not interested in, but don’t let self-care be the reason you use to get out of something that might be difficult at first. If it seems challenging, it might be an opportunity for growth.

Something else to think about as you consider challenging yourself in activism comes with understanding your privileged identities. As a cisgender, queer, upper middle class woman of color, I have a lot of things to sort through, but I try to be cognizant of how my actions are working in solidarity, as an ally, or for me and mine to disrupt oppression.

tina-star-gifFor example, I’m not a big fan of calling people out on offensive Facebook posts; however, I like the idea of being very choosey and calling people in especially when it comes to transgender issues.hen somebody posts something offensive, I reflect on whether or not I definitely respect them and whether I believe they will listen. If I respect them and think they’ll listen, I walk out of my comfort zone to have a difficult conversation. This process is integral to my work as a cis ally.

By challenging ourselves, we are also taking care of ourselves. We are being stewards of our own growth. So, when you feel that sense of discomfort or anxiety you can step back–that’s always valid–or you can choose to challenge yourself and, potentially, find out more about yourself as an activist.

Use your resources

Finally, here are some resources that you might find useful as you get involved in activism (and while many of these guides focus on the here and now and this specific administration, these are good resources to serve throughout times on both the local, state, and national levels. Activists existed before November 8th and they’ll continue to exists for years and years and years.):

5 Calls | Turn your passive participation into active resistance. Facebook likes and Twitter retweets can’t create the change you want to see. Calling your Government on the phone can. 5 Calls provides phone numbers and scripts so calling is quick and easy and uses your location to find your local representatives so your calls have more impact. (from the site)

26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets | A list of ways to engage in activism that are all alternatives to being “in the streets.”

Apps for Organizing | A list of apps that help you get engaged in activism.

Indivisible Guide | A resistance guide compiled by former Congressional staffers.

Project 1461 | This project features daily call-to-actions for organizing under the current administration.

Resistance Manual | The Resistance Manual is premised on the idea that, “Action begins with information.” It is an open-source site that collects information for organizing against the current administration’s actions.

And here are some resources for self-care <3:

6 Apps for Taking Care of Yourself 

Free Mindfulness Apps

Self Care in Stress Culture

Radical Self Care

image-1

Thanks for reading this blog post and for taking some time for yourself. We’re proud of you over at the Women’s Center, and we’re here when you need support or just want to collect yourself.

P.S. If you know of any more self-care tips for activists or resources that would be useful, please let us know! We would love to hear your ideas and share them with others.

Slaying on the Weekly: Happy Black History Month + What’s Going On??

View story at Medium.com

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:

February is Black History Month! Join us in celebrating the lives, activism and labor of African-American and Black activists, scholars and thinkers this month. Need some resources to expand your knowledge of black feminism? Check out Melissa Harris-Perry’s Black Feminism Syllabus and stop by the Women’s Center’s lending library to check out all of our awesome books!

Article of the Week:

Upworthy came out with an amazing guide for new activists. Be sure to check out 5 invaluable tips on how to resist from a first-time activist.

Continue to make time for taking care of yourself. I know that is easier said than done. If you’re struggling with balancing being an activist and the feeling overwhelmed, check out Mashable’s article on what to do when you’re so overwhelmed, you can’t move.

UMBC Happenings:

The Women’s Center is continually dedicated to support throughout this semester and beyond. February is full of events and programs, all of which are geared towards expanding our knowledge and understanding of feminism and social justice. Join us for our first Roundtable discussion, What Now? UMBC Police Meet & Greet and Money 201: Basic Investing Program.

Woman of the Week: 

During Black History Month, Slaying on the Weekly will be featuring inspiring, innovative or groundbreaking black women. This week’s Woman of the Week is Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, aka Michelle Obama. As a lawyer, activist, mother and the coolest First Lady ever, we thought it would be best to have Michelle as our first Woman of the Week. Thanks for being so cool, Mrs. Obama!!

Spring 17 Group 4.jpg

The Women’s Center staff members at staff training over winter break. We’re ready for a great semester!

Women’s March on Washington: We Marched. What’s Next?

A sampling of “what’s next” from UMBC community members, curated by Jess Myers, Women’s Center Director 

Last week, I shared some of my hopes and desired outcomes from the Women’s March on Washington. While I was looking forward to marching and being in relationship with other women and people at the march, I was (and am) more invested in the what’s next. In my blog, I wrote, “I want the momentum and energy to continue after the march, especially for those who are new to the movement, new to activism, new to seeing things that are unfair and unjust. I want us to stay loud. To stay critical. To stay visible and demand what is right, what is necessary. I want you to volunteer. I want you to keep learning and growing. I want you to find your activism (if you haven’t already) and make a difference. I want all those things for myself as well. 

On Saturday night and Sunday morning, my entire Facebook timeline was filled with amazing photos of the March (and also really important critiques of the march which you should also take some time to read). What was even more exciting than the photos, was the plans people were committing to in their post-march glow. So many people are fired up!

In my last post, I also reflected on the mission of the Women’s Center and our commitment to advocating for and advancing the rights of women and marginalized people. While the Women’s Center is a space and the people who work in it are committed to putting in the work, YOU, our community, are a huge part of that mission. We need you to help us live and be our mission. So with that in mind, I put a call out to some Women’s Center friends and former staff and asked them to share what their post-plans march are so I could share them as inspiration and motivation to our larger community. What I share below isn’t necessarily the full list each person shared with me but I love the breadth of ideas and action items.

So, I’ll go first…

pawsoff

After the march, I began the divestment process from my bank that financially supports the Dakota Access Pipeline as one way to be in solidarity with the Sioux Tribe and particularly native women (knowing construction of oil pipelines can contribute to an increased risk of sexual assault for Native women). I also am committed to investing more of my time and energy in local politics and activism.

Yoo-Jin Kang, UMBC Class of 2015 & former Women’s Center staff member

image

“Post-march I’d like to commit to speaking up, leaning into discomfort, and having the tough conversations with people who are willing to engage and listen. I want to commit to intersectionality because my feminism is privileged and one-sided without it. I want to continue to support local calls to action– whether that’s calling local politicians, supporting POC-owned businesses, rallying people in my community, or looking up trainings and materials to help guide my understanding of complex issues.”

Dr. Kate Drabinski, GWST Faculty 

16113476_10158244049590515_8453646457741148439_o

“I’m going to keep doing what I do, where I am, and I commit to continue learning, doing, and acting. Oh, and calling my reps–local, state, and national–over and over again while staying open to new strategies and tactics as they arise.”

Lexx Mills, UMBC Class of 2013 & former Women’s Center staff intern
“I had to call out sick from the march and be there in spirit. I am committing to regularly calling Congress and getting family and friends involved.”

Emily Frias, UMBC Class of 2016
“In my current position I’m already heavily involved in local politics, but going to the march helped me further understand the context of the work I’m doing. While protecting reproductive rights is certainly important, black rights, immigrant rights, trans rights and disabled rights cannot be sacrificed in the name of unity. I felt like I was taking in the state of modern feminism, and seeing exactly how important it is to insist on intersectionality. Going forward, I’ll continue to keep these ideas at heart in the work I do!”

Mariana De Matos Medeiros, UMBC Class of 2016 & former Women’s Center staff intern

img_4701

“After attending the march I am going to be attending training to become an abortion doula and am hoping to continue to researching and learning more in hopes to have brave conversations with the people in my life.”

Jake Leizear, UMBC Class of 2016
“More dialouging (and learning how to make it a less anxiety-inducing experience), and more lobbying. I want my elected officials to know me and be sick of me.”

Dr. Dawn Biehler, GES Faculty 

wmw-1-1

Dawn with the Day-Biehler crew – Brigid, Alice, and Nathan.

“I’ve been calling members of Congress, though I don’t know how much they listen to me since I don’t have a Senator or full Congressperson as a DC resident… We have started attending services at a very progressive church, All Souls Unitarian, which has a long history of social justice activism.”

Megan Tagle Adams, Women’s Center Assistant Director

march-megan-juliette-amelia

“I’m still figuring out my post-march plans and priorities, but to begin with I’ve started donating money more frequently to important organizations and causes. I plan to learn more about third party politics and ways to get involved locally. I’m also committed to recentering the truth by combating the spread of fake news and challenging the uncritical use of harmful euphemisms like “alt-right.””

What are you plans? What’s next for you?


For more ideas or ways to keep the momentum going:

Women’s March on Washington 10 Actions/100 Days 

Countable – an app that makes it quick and easy to understand the laws Congress is considering

Attend upcoming Women’s Center events – check out our spring calendar