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Women’s Center and Women of Color Coalition awarded $5000 grant

“Telling Our Stories: I’m Not/I Am” project is made possible by American Association of University Women Campus Action Grant.

The Women’s Center and Women of Color Coalition recently received a $5,000 grant from the American Association of University Women to fund their “Telling Our Stories: I’m Not/I Am” project.

The project aims to “raise awareness and reject stereotypes about women of color, and create a space for women-of-color voices and counternarratives”.

UMBC was one of eleven universities awarded the AAUW’s Campus-Action Grant. The project also received $500 from UMBC’s Breaking Ground initiative.

“I think it is important to bring some of that visibility to UMBC because so often people talk about how UMBC is so diverse,” said Megan Tagle Adams, coordinator of the Women’s Center.

“We want to not only engage with what’s going on in our community at UMBC, but also what is happening at large, even a global ideal of what microaggressions women of color go through on a daily basis” added Brianne Best, a senior English major and member at large in the Women of Color Coalition.

The campaign involves a series of discussions about sexist or racist microaggressions, and one’s experiences as a woman of color. Microaggressions are “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.” They are unconscious discriminations, rather than conscious ones.

These discussions provide a safe space for women of color to discuss sensitive issues while promoting solidarity amongst themselves. Best said the discussions are “a great way for women of color to speak out and actually tell their stories.”

She continued, “I think the Safe Space and Brave Space model of dealing with women-of-color issues is very needed because not only do we need to have these safe space discussions so that we can talk about our situations, but we need a way to combat [systemic injustices].”

Space Spaces create environments conducive to learning about different cultures and ethnicities. Brave Spaces involves bringing up topics such as racism and sexism in ways that challenge perceived societal power dynamics.

The project concludes with the Telling our Stories: Showcase, which will take place on April 29. It will display performances from women of color to give them opportunity for genuine self-representation through creative means such as songs or spoken poetry, among other creative art forms.

The tone of the event is completely dependent on people who volunteer to participate in the showcase. “It really depends on the performers, and I imagine there will be a variety of art forms because everyone feels in different ways which means they will express it in different ways. We really, more than anything, want it to be authentic,” said Adams.

Best added: “With story-telling, no story is going to be the exact same as the others, and I think that is good. That tells you how diverse people are within themselves, because women of color cannot be put in a box.”