Craftivism, Sexual Violence in the Media, Feminist Reading
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In this issue:
  • A note from our director
  • The Breathing Room
  • Additional Upcoming WLRC events
  • Staying Connected: Updates about COVID-19 and WLRC/CAN
  • CCUSC events
  • Campus opportunities
  • Community opportunities
  • Connect with us!
A note from our director

Springtime Healing

Despite last week's surprise snow, the greening of Chicago has begun. My friends are posting pictures of robins' nests perched on their windowsills, full of beautiful blue eggs. I see my neighbors in Bronzeville busy with their backyard gardens, readying the earth for planting and imagining the life-affirming bounty that will come from the work that they put in now. Promise. These ordinary activities, of making and nourishing life in this imperfect world, take on new significance when human beings are forced to stay inside. We get to witness the earth as it heals; I hope we also wonder how to be less of a liability once this pandemic ends. We get to think differently about productivity--to reject its normative and exploitative assumptions and to imagine new relationships to each other. Allowing ourselves to feel the waves of grief, loss, rage, and sadness and to get to a place of hope--that's when our healing begins.

There's a lot of happening that provokes rage. For example, we now know that women of color make up the largest category of essential workers in the U.S., putting them and their families at increased risk of contracting the virus. On top of all the issues that women faculty, especially women of color, deal with, there is undue scrutiny about of their physical appearance as they teach in college classrooms and contribute to the leadership and stature of their respective departments and universities. These gendered, elitist, and racist micro-aggressions have been given new life in the context of online instruction during the pandemic. While the strong and instructive rebuttals focus on women faculty members, I do wonder about the ideas about racial identity, femininity, and self-presentation that are being conveyed to undergraduate and graduate students. I hope that we can have meaningful conversations about this topic in the near future.

April 22 is Earth Day and a moment to recognize the movements led by indigenous and marginalized communities who demand to have a say in what "development" looks like for them. I want to lift up the work of Chicago's Kim Wasserman, Executive Director of Chicago's Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). Her leadership and tireless advocacy for the health and wellbeing of the Latinx community of Little Village continues to inspire all of us. For several years, Kim and LVEJO have been working alongside the Little Village community to demand that HilCo Global rethink its plan to demolish the Crawford Coal Plant's smokestack and replace it with a warehouse. Community members have repeatedly asked the company to commit to providing living wages, meaningful job opportunities, and protections for undocumented persons. What they have received, thus far, was a poorly organized demolition effort on April 11 that blanketed the community in a thick cloud of dust for several hours, visibly compromising the air quality and further endangering the health of residents. It may seem entirely coincidental that the demolition took place during the COVID-19 pandemic that attacks the respiratory system and has proven to be fatal for people of color whose lives are already threatened by structural racism. As activists like Kim already know and as the student interns of UIC's Heritage Garden learn from community organizations, the specter of environmental racism takes many forms: it is the plume of dust from negligence; but it is also the slow leak in the form of stress from economic insecurity, compromised immune systems, and limited access to healthy foods, livable wages, good working conditions, unpolluted water, affordable and good quality healthcare. The struggle for the right to breathe involves naming both the plumes and the leaks, and making room for communities to put forward their own visions for their future.

Organizing against environmental injustice takes many forms. As an educator, filmmaker, and activist, Dr. Esther Figueroa is best known for documenting the destruction and exploitation of Jamaica's physical environment over the last 50 years. Her recent work involves chronicling the efforts of grassroots organizations in Jamaica's Cockpit Country to resist government and multinational corporations that seek to destroy agricultural lands in order to extract bauxite. Similar to the Little Village context in Chicago, the rural communities in central Jamaica have been speaking up about the ways that bauxite mining threatens the health as well as the social and economic wellbeing of those who live adjacent to the mining areas. They have not been listened to. As an activist storyteller then, Esther's film and public writings makes visible the perspectives we rarely hear and see: strategies of resistance enacted by rural Jamaicans; the lack of investment in the communities from which bauxite companies draw their lowest paid workers; the systematic destruction of the land that drives farming communities into further poverty; the absence of accountability on the part of the national government which facilitates the deals with bauxite companies. A friend of WLRC, Esther visited UIC in March 2019. You can learn more about her work in this special issue of the journal Feminist Media Histories.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month presents opportunities for discussion and action towards creating a world that is free from sexual violence. Mariame Kaba's latest zine is one place to begin thinking about how the current movement against gender-based violence got to where it is. The zine reprints "An Open Letter to the Anti-Rape Movement," a powerful statement made by Santa Cruz Women Against Rape in 1977. This letter was also featured in WLRC's 2018 exhibition "Take Back The Fight: Resisting Sexual Violence From the Ground Up" and is sure to reignite conversations about the costs of focusing on policing and prisons as a solution to gender-based violence. On April 22, we encourage your participation in Resilience’s "Breaking the Silence" virtual café event which honors survivors of sexual violence. For the Breathing Room session on April 24, we will discuss the Netflix series Unbelievable and Chanel Miller's memoir Know My Name. Both the series and book were released in 2019 and are based on the actual experiences of survivors. Bring a friend!

I've also been thinking about last week's Breathing Room conversation led by UIC graduate student Jazmin Vega; participants were asked to consider what kind of post-pandemic world we want to live in. We won't come up with the same answer, nor always speak each other's language. But, in the same way that we might approach the song "No Es No" (Anne Etchegoyen and Itziar Ituno, Basque artists), we can listen, hum each other's tune, and amplify where possible. I think that's a start.

In solidarity,
Natalie Bennett

P.S. The song is in Spanish, French, and Basque.

The Breathing Room

Join us in the Breathing Room, a place to unwind, heal, and find community. We'll be sharing reflections, creative and scholarly endeavors, and activity ideas in this newsletter, on our website, on our social media, and in a weekly Zoom session.

Toni Collette and Merritt Wever stand next to each other, looking off into the distance. Behind them is a large image of Kaitlyn Dever, looking down toward her left shoulder. 

Unbelievable and Media Portrayals of Gender-based Violence

Friday, April 24, 2020
Registration required for Zoom info

Please join us as we continue to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This week, we'll be discussing the Netflix series Unbelievable and other media portrayals of sexual violence. You do not need to screen the full series to participate; we have clips and an article on our website to help you catch up.

CART live captioning will be provided.

Embroidered image with black thread on white fabric: a sign that says "Do something that makes you feel strong + powerful" with the top of a person's head peeking out from the top and their hands holding it on the sides 

Craftivism during a Pandemic

Friday, May 1, 2020
Registration required for Zoom info

Shannon Downey of Badass Cross Stitch will lead us in a discussion of how artists and crafters use their skills for social justice, in good times and bad. How can this work help us get through a crisis and find community? On the practical side, how do folks keep their arts and crafts businesses afloat during a pandemic?

CART live captioning will be provided.

A stack of books, each with a different color cover, sits on a desk, obscuring a person behind it. 

Feminist Books

Here’s another round of resources to help you get through quarantine. This time, it’s our favorite books! What books are you reading right now?

A white chef's hat and a paper grocery bag of vegetables surround a purple square with white text that reads "UIC Student Cookbook." 

UIC Student Cookbook

The lovely students of the Nutrition BS/MS Coordinated Program, Class of 2020, created a cookbook "to support the UIC student body during these unprecedented times. Many of our peers have been impacted by this crisis and may be facing difficulties with eating consistently and healthfully. While our emotions might be mixed and we have a million things going through our minds, this book has been designed to relieve some stress from something that should bring us comfort: food. We hope you find it useful in your day-to-day routine, whether that be thinking of what to eat for the night or how to make smart purchases at the grocery store.

Food not only nourishes our bodies, but can bring people together. We have seen how meals have made communities come together and become stronger than ever. No matter what we are going through or what challenges are out there, we all have a seat at the table."

Additional Upcoming WLRC Events
Emoonah sits outside on a concrete garden ledge, looking up to her right and smiling into the sun 

Examining the Cultural Stressors and Coping Mechanisms of Black Women College Students
A capstone presentation by Emoonah McClerklin

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Registration required for Zoom info

Join us in celebrating our assistant Emoonah McClerklin as she presents her Honors College capstone project!

Research shows that women exhibit higher rates of stress and anxiety than men. Research also shows that some racial groups experience different types of stress than others because of their different treatment in society. However, it has not yet been discussed how people at the intersections of racial and gender discrimination, like black women, experience stress. This study uses a semi-structured qualitative interview method to examine the specific racial and gendered ways black women students at UIC experience stress, and how they cope with that unique stress. Preliminary findings suggest that Black women feel stressed in interracial social environments, having to adopt a variety of coping mechanisms to avoid judgment due to stereotypes, microaggressions, and racially insensitive language used by their peers.

CART live captioning will be provided.

Aerial view of pencils, notebooks, papers, and a cell phone on a desk. 

Write @ WLRC

Friday, April 24, 2020
10am - 12pm
Registration required for Zoom info

Can’t find the time or motivation to write? Working on your dissertation/conference paper/creative project? Need some structure, support, and accountability? Join our weekly virtual write onsite space for graduate students, faculty, and staff!

Five black women cutting and sewing quilt fabric 

Black Hair Quilt Project

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Registration required for Zoom info: Email

We're moving to a virtual space! We invite Black women students to participate in a collaborative art project that explores the stories that Black women tell about their hair. Over the Spring 2020 semester, each participant will work with a fiber artist to design and stitch an individual quilt square while learning about Black women’s quilting traditions and engaging in conversation about what love, joy, family, politics, trauma, fashion, and resistance have to do with Black hair.

Aerial photo of UIC's campus 

WLRC will be physically closed for the duration of spring semester. Staff are working remotely and can be reached at We will continue to stay connected with you through social media and email.

The Campus Advocacy Network will continue to serve UIC students, faculty, and staff. Our confidential advocate is available for virtual appointments. To schedule a meeting or request more information, please email or You can also call (312) 413-8206 and leave a voicemail.

We are open to connecting with you in multiple ways:

  • Phone: (312) 413-8206 or (312) 488-9784
  • Video conference (Webex or Google Hangouts)
  • Online chat (Google Chats)
  • Email

For those living with violence, having to isolate or self-quarantine oneself can make a situation more unsafe. We are here to answer questions and provide support if you or a loved one is in a situation like this. If you are looking for shelter, food, or safety planning, please reach out to CAN to learn the options available on and off campus. We also encourage you to check in with friends and family who may be vulnerable and share our contact information with them.

More info & resources

CCUSC Events & Resources
A calendar listing of events with a purple-red gradient background 

UIC's Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change are bringing you virtual programming! Click each center's name below for details on events, services, resources, and ways to connect on social media:

African-American Cultural Center

Arab American Cultural Center

Asian American Resource and Cultural Center

Disability Cultural Center

Gender and Sexuality Center

Latino Cultural Center

Office of Diversity

Text-based flyer about COVID-19 resources for undocumented students 

Resources for Undocumented Students

For our undocumented immigrant community, we want to make sure you are aware of our internal and external resources available to support you during this time.

For any additional questions, please contact Tanya Cabrera, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Inclusion, at or (312) 355-0011.

Text-based flyer about Stigma and COVID-19 

Stigma & COVID-19: Viruses Do Not Discriminate

We've teamed up with the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, Office of International Services, and the Office of the Dean of Students to help you combat anti-Asian racism tied to COVID-19. Please share with your communities!

Text-based flyer about Ramadan 

Ways to Support Students During Ramadan (April 23 - May 23, 2020)

Our friends at the Arab American Cultural Center have created this helpful resource for supporting our students during Ramadan, which begins later this month. Please share!


Campus Opportunities
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Call for Participants: Pregnancy and Birth During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Kylea Liese and Dr. Julienne Rutherford of the UIC College of Nursing seek participants for a research study on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women’s experience and choices surrounding pregnancy and birth. Adults who are currently pregnant or have given birth since January 2020 may be eligible.

Earth Day at UIC

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Office of Planning, Sustainability and Project Management asks that you show your support for a Plastic Free UIC by wearing red on April 22, signing up for our virtual "clean up," and advocating for a plastic free campus both online and out loud!

COVID-19 LAS Scholarship Support

The LAS Dean’s Office is pleased to offer a limited number of scholarship awards (up to $1,000) to LAS students who require assistance with educational expenses (e.g. tuition, fees, housing, books or other unforeseen expenses) due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you have any questions about this application, please contact

Hilda López-Arce Scholarship for Latinx Undergraduate Students

Each year the Hilda López-Arce Scholarship Selection Committee, in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Latinos and the Latina Network, awards a $500 scholarship to a Latinx student who exhibits leadership qualities and who has made contributions to the Latinx community. Applications due Friday, April 24. Questions can be directed to Latina Network Co-Chairs Jocelyn Munguia Chavez at or Diana Soriano at

Call for Submissions: Six Feet Apart: Stories from UIC during COVID-19

The UIC Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, UIC Humanities In Medicine student group (HuMed), and the UIC College of Medicine are launching a project to document how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting life at UIC and need your stories, photos and artwork!

Call for Submissions: UIC Counseling Center COVID-10 Video Advocacy Project

In response to the violence and discrimination against Asian communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UIC Counseling Center is developing a short video featuring UIC students, faculty, and staff to highlight how our community can take action. We are hoping to elevate the voices of those who have been impacted by discrimination and xenophobia.

UIC Solidarity Network Slack

The UIC Solidarity Network is a student-led initiative to create a collective space for all of us to stay connected, build community, share and access resources, and support one another. This is an incredibly difficult and isolating time for all of us, and it's important that we use our resources and capacities to care for each other to the best of our abilities. On this platform, you will find resources for financial assistance, local & neighborhood mutual aid projects, a job board, COVID-19 resources for various communities (including multilingual), free social distancing activities, and more. This is intended to be a living and fluid space for all of us to contribute to and shape to meet our needs and interests. 

Student Money Management Center: Student Loan Repayment webinar
Wednesday, April 22 at 12pm

The CARES Act has produced a lot of provisions for student loan borrowers. We'll be discussing myths & facts related to those provisions as well as ways to plan for repayment regardless of your financial situation. This webinar is free and open to the public.

Career Services CareerIgnite Workshops

The UIC Career Services office is offering a number of live and pre-recorded workshops this month!

Free Tech Resources that Students Must Use for Job and Internship Sources
Wednesday, April 22, 1-2pm

Developing and Maintaining Your Digital Brand Live Chat Session
Thursday, April 23, 12-1pm

Preparing for Virtual Interviews When Campuses Are Closed
Monday, April 27, 1-2pm

Tips on Identifying and Avoiding Job Scams Live Chat
Tuesday, April 28, 12-12:30pm

Online Networking Live Chat Session
Thursday, April 30, 12-1pm

Student Leadership and Civic Engagement Book and Documentary Club
Friday, April 22 at 12:30pm: film discussion

For the month of April, we'll read Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams and watch the documentary American Factory on Netflix.

Understanding the Coronavirus Pandemic Through the Lens of Racial and Social Justice
Thursday, April 23 at 11am

Join UIC's Social Justice Initiative and the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy for a conversation with health experts, local and national immigration activists, Chicago alderwomen, and criminal justice organizers to discuss how we work towards and achieve racial justice in the time of Coronavirus and beyond. Please note: This event will be broadcast online by CAN TV at and at

Counseling Center: Self-Kindness and a Grateful Heart
Friday, April 24, 11am - 12pm

Join us online to explore the powerful benefits of practicing gratitude and self-compassion, such as improving motivation, increasing optimism, and coping with stress and sadness.

Counseling Center: Graduation Grief Workshop

Monday, April 27, 10-11am

Wednesday, April 29, 12-1pm

A common response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been a sense of loss. With our schedules being disrupted by social distancing, many are feeling sadness and frustration over missed experiences, gatherings, and celebrations. For those graduating this semester, you may be experiencing a sense of grief over the graduation experience you were hoping to have. Please join us for this workshop to have a space to understand and process this loss, while feeling supported by other UIC students also graduating during the time COVID-19. There are two available dates.

Mental Health, Structural Violence and You
Thursday, April 30 at 10am

The UIC Office of Community Engagement invites you to a session for individuals, community organizations, faculty, researchers, and community residents that are interested in discussing how stigma and discrimination drives the higher rates of mental health problems in LGBTQ communities, and ways of using healing to address structural violence.

Campus Recreation Online Fitness Classes

UIC Campus Recreation is offering daily group fitness classes, including Bodyweight, Core Training, BollyX, and Flow. They are also starting new eSports leagues for FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA2K, and NHL (registration required).

Fill Out the Census!

UIC's Census Team wants you to fill out the Census! Help your community receive the funding and services it needs! Respond via website, phone, or mail:

Please note: Your answers are private and will not be shared with federal agencies or law enforcement entities.

Community Opportunities
White banner with black text and polaroid photo of person wearing a white t shirt with purple "Me Too" paint 

Resilience: Breaking the Silence Cafe
Wednesday, April 22, 12-1pm

For the past 13 years, Breaking the Silence has been an evening of healing for survivors, by survivors. While we realize we can’t hold a digital candle to our annual poetry event, we’ve decided this year to instead turn our attention to the brilliance and resilience of survivors by holding an afternoon poetry and spoken word café. Grab your beverage of choice and join us for some poetry, some storytelling and a short mindfulness practice. We hope to reinvigorate your creativity and reunite you with your survivor community. Open mic performers will have the opportunity to sign up to perform on a first come basis.

HEART Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series

Join HEART every Wednesday in April for a workshop on sexual violence.

Wednesday, April 22: Power and Control: Barriers to disclosure for Muslim survivors
Wednesday, April 29: Supporting Survivors: Responding with RAHMA

UN Women - Chicago Chapter: Virtual Empower Hour
Thursday, April 23, 6-7pm

Looking for an escape and an opportunity to connect with others? Join us for a fun and invigorating virtual Empower Hour. Learn strategies for self-care during these times, participate in a guided mindfulness practice, and have fun with some group trivia. 

Hollaback!: Stand Up Against Street Harassment
Friday, April 24, 11am

Like much of the world, we are all still figuring out how COVID19 will change us. We’ve seen what happens when millions of people ban together to take care of one another against the odds. How can we bring that forward into our lives after this is over?

It starts by taking action right now. Join us for a one-hour, interactive, virtual training to learn how to intervene when you see harassment happening. We’ll talk about what can harassment looks like—from microaggressions to violence—and how Hollaback!’s 5Ds of bystander intervention can help: distract, delegate, document, delay, and direct. We’ll also talk about how to prioritize your own safety while intervening and how to respond if you get harassed. We’ll have time at the end for practice, and you’ll leave feeling more confident intervening the next time you see street harassment.

Resilience: Standing Silent Witness
Friday, April 24, 12-1pm

Standing Silent Witness, Resilience’s signature SAAM event, unites participants in a visual demonstration to celebrate our individual and collective survival. Traditionally participants decorate t-shirts with stories and messages of support for survivors to wear as we gather in silence. This year, Resilience is going to flood the internet with support for survivors! We encourage you to create your own message of support for survivors on paper or another material at home and participate in one of three ways:

1) Live stream a moment of silence and hold a message of support.
2) Post a photo of yourself with your message of support and tag us.
3) Send us a photo of your message of support so we can post the photo for you anonymously.

Global Fund for Women: Feminists Leading Revolutions - Cross-Movement Sharing
Monday, April 27, 9:30am

Protests around the globe are demanding a more just and equal world, and feminists are on the frontlines. As COVID-19 has laid bare the systemic inequities built into our world, now more than ever, feminist solidarity, movement building, and healing justice are needed. Join this webinar for a discussion on cross-movement learning, which tactics are working and where, and gender justice storytelling for change.

Resilience: Sexual Assault Awareness Month Book Club
Monday, April 27, 5:30-7pm

Connect with your community and engage in SAAM with reading! Resilience is hosting a virtual book club for the month of April. We will be reading Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler.

PBS American Experience: The Vote Screening & Discussion

Tuesday, April 28, 5-6:30pm: "The Washington Parade of 1913"

Wednesday, April 29, 7-8:30pm: "Upping the Ante and Jailed for Freedom"

Join us for screenings and discussions of two clips from the upcoming American Experience film The Vote!

One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, The Vote tells the dramatic culmination story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote, a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history. Join producers and experts from the film for exclusive clip screenings, followed by panel discussions. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and join the conversation.

Abolition Feminism: Celebrating 20 Years of INCITE!
Thursday, April 30, 6-9pm

Join founders and generations of leaders of INCITE! for a discussion of the origins, genealogies, and futures of abolition feminism. Abolition feminism, and its roots in grassroots anti-violence organizing by women, trans and gender nonconforming people of color, is particularly relevant in this moment of heightened attention on movements advocating abolition and resisting incarceration of our communities - and of backlash rooted in carceral feminism.

Call for Participants: Sexual Violence Among Muslims in North America: A Cross-Sectional Study

HEART Women & Girls and Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) seek participants for a study to better understand sexual violence, sexual health, and barriers to services in Muslim communities.

Call for Volunteers: Title IX Comment Catalog Project

This is a "crowd-researched" project to catalog each of the comments filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in November 2018 regarding Title IX and sexual harassment ("Title IX NPRM"). To participate, please visit the website, click the "I want to adopt 20 comments" button, and follow the instructions to catalog each comment in your batch. No specialized knowledge or skills are required.

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