A short reflection by Shira Devorah, Women’s Center student staff.
I bought my own copy of Dirty River (even though the Women’s Center has a copy you can loan now thanks to the UMBC’s LGBTQ Faculty & Staff Association recent donation), and I’m really glad that I did. I got to underline the poetry and the words that really resonated with me. I carefully applied sticky notes to the parts I loved, the difficult areas I wanted to come back to, the short mix of music I have to check out.
Dirty River, A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, is a memoir, but it is also so much more. It is a story of escape, of survival, of scraping by and fighting to exist. This book is more poetry than prose. It is incredibly difficult, dealing with (trigger warning!) incest, abuse and intimate partner violence. It is also difficult because there is so so much. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha feels everything so much. She discovers herself and pulls you in through all the twists and turns. Continue reading
A final reflection written by Women’s Center student staff member and UMBC Class of 2016 alum, Meagé Clements
Just weeks after graduation, I attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), a conference I had been anticipating for months! I arrived promptly on June 1st, just in time for the Welcome Reception, led by various American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Student Advisory Council members. There, I met just a few of the hard working, inspirational women from across the nation who were attending the conference. There were other Women’s Center staff members, members of university and college SGAs, non-traditional women students, executive board members of student-led organizations, and more.Throughout the evening full of ice-breakers, I learned what many of the women were passionate about changing and accomplishing in the world.
Throughout the various conference sessions, workshops, and even during the informal ice-breaker and night-out activities, I found myself learning several things about myself and how to be a successful woman in a male-dominated society.
1. I have a voice that deserves to be heard. Continue reading
A short book reflection by Shira Devorah
Just a few moments ago I finished Janet Mock’s memoir, Redefining Realness, My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. I’m still stunned. I’m not much of a memoir reader, but I’m pretty sure this book has changed that.
Thanks to a generous donation from UMBC’s LGBTQ Faculty & Staff Association, I was able to snatch up this book from the Women’s Center’s very own lending library! Over the past couple of days, I have been relishing every moment of Janet Mock and her story. Mock, a trans woman of color, takes her readers through her life from early childhood until now. In a whirlwind of wit and poignancy, she shares herself with us.
I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a whole bunch throughout this book. Mock fought tooth and nail to become the woman she is today, and though she has been through a lot of pain and oppression, she never falters in her stance as an activist. Every personal recollection comes with a lesson Mock has for her readers. She challenges us to be better people, to see others more complexly, to be critical of systems of inequality and injustice that exist all around us. Mock allows her readers to peak into incredibly sensitive parts of her, and trusts us to learn from the barriers she faced in her girlhood and adolescence.
I think this memoir is a wonderful introduction to intersectional identities and social justice. Any person who picks up this book will be gently introduced to many concepts that they might not have been privy to beforehand. While I feel like I know a bit about many issues touched upon in this book, I have been changed by her discussions. Continue reading