Social Justice Week: Social Justice in Crisis

April 12, 2021 - April 16, 2021
11:00 AM - 08:30 PM

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CSM Social Justice Week April 12-16

Theme – Social Justice in Crisis

Hosted by:  The College of Southern Maryland's Equity and Inclusive Diversity Office, Global Initiatives Committee, Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Center for Leadership, Student Life Department, and the dedicated faculty and staff of CSM’s Social Justice Day Committee.

COVID-19 has upended our world in ways that will require years of reflection and study to fully understand. The pandemic has impacted us all, but it has not done so equally. As the virus has criss-crossed the world, it has become embedded in and inflected by our existing social structures, problems, and inequities.

The simple truth is that the pandemic has exacerbated inequalities among those marginalized because of race, poverty, gender, ability, and other factors. Our 2021 Social Justice Week takes up the task of better understanding the interplay between this global pandemic, social justice, and the lived experience of people most inordinately impacted by the virus.

The events listed below represent a cross-disciplinary endeavor to offer a glimpse into the pandemic’s impact by addressing the issue from economic, mental, behavioral, and physical health, criminal justice, racial justice, and global perspectives.

“COVID’s Impact on Our Wallets – How to Bounce Back after the Pandemic”

Monday, April 12, 11:30 a.m. – 12:50 p.m.

Featuring CSM Professor of Economics, Mike Green (Host: Professor Lisa Link).

Many people have suffered economically during the past year with job loss, layoffs, and reduced wages. Looking to the future, CSM Economics Professor Mike Green, will offer tools and strategies for building wealth, not only to protect against future crises, but to lay the groundwork for a lucrative retirement. Building wealth begins with making the choice to save. Next is choosing the right investment vehicle to make your savings grow. Professor Green, will present, discuss, and take questions on a method that guarantees, if you start following it now, to make you a millionaire in forty-five years. For those over the age of 20, you can still benefit.

“Health Benefits in Crisis”

Monday April 12, 7:15 p.m.

Featuring Michelle Gaskill, Lead Certified Navigator, Seedco through the Maryland Heath Connection (Host: Professor Tatiana Vrem)

Join this important presentation to learn how to refer those in need for health benefits that would not otherwise qualify. Michelle Gaskill, from Seedco, working through Maryland Health Connection, leads a team of health insurance navigators in Charles, Calvert, and St Mary’s counties. Working closely with local community organizations, Ms. Gaskill identifies individuals and families that lack health insurance and helps them get back on track to healthy living.

Seedco, the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation, is a national non-profit organization dedicated to advancing economic opportunities for people, businesses, and communities in need. Their major initiatives include helping individuals with barriers to employment obtain, retain, and advance in jobs, and offering no cost assistance to apply for financial assistance to pay for your health benefits to keep your costs down and your health sustained.

Just Mercy Film Discussion”
Tuesday, April 13, 10-11:20 a.m. with CSM Professor Krista Keyes

Discussion of the 2019 film Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, based on the best-selling autobiography by Bryan Stevenson: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. 

“Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinkmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.” –

Options for film rental or purchase can be found here:  If you’re unable to view the film, please feel free to join the discussion. Here are some free resources: Equal Justice Initiative: and Bryan Stevenson's TED Talk: We need to talk about an injustice

“Mental Health in a Time of Pandemic”
Tuesday, April 13, 11:30 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Featuring a panel of mental health professionals. (Hosts: Professor Michelle Christian and CSM Counselor Jen Fossell.)

Four mental health practitioners will explore the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health. In addition to discussing present mental health challenges through the lens of trauma, panelists will share their thoughts on resilience, strategies to protect one’s mental health in difficult times, and more. Speakers include Sandra Barnes, PhD, Clinical Psychologist; Kellie Jamison, LCSW-C, Professional Counselor, College of Southern Maryland; Birgit Locklear, LCSW-C, CCTP, Clinical Director, Pathways Inc.; D'Anita Parker, LGPC, Counselor, Charles County Department of Health Behavioral Health Division - Substance Use Services.

“COVID-19 and the Criminal Justice System”

Tuesday, April 13, 1-2:20 p.m.

Featuring Calvert County Assistant Sheriff and CSM Adjunct Instructor Dave McDowell. (Hosts: CSM Professors of Criminal Justice Katrina Robertson and John Delabrer, and CSM Professor of English, Barbara Link.)

This presentation will address the impact of COVID-19 on law enforcement, the courts, and the corrections system. Join Calvert County Assistant Sheriff, Dave McDowell, as we consider the key obstacles faced by the criminal justice system because of the pandemic, and its responses to help ensure the safety and security of the communities served.

*KEYNOTE ADDRESS: "Social Justice in Crisis – COVID’s Impact on Communities in Southern Maryland"
Tuesday, April 13, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker - Dr. Dianna E. Abney, Health Officer for Charles County Department of Health (Host: CSM Professor Tatiana Vrem.)

Dr. Abney will examine the pandemic’s impact on our communities and the vaccines that are currently available. Her presentation will focus, specifically, on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities, and the particular importance of vaccinations for this group. She’ll address issues of fear and distrust of the vaccine, and educate the audience on its safety and efficacy in fighting this virus.

Dr. Dianna E. Abney was previously the Health Officer for the Charles County Department of Health from December 2012 to August 2018. Under her leadership the health department offered a wide range of public health services, and decreased disparities by increasing access to dental, behavioral health and primary care services. One of her proudest accomplishments was bringing primary care back to Nanjemoy by opening a family medicine clinic in the community center. For the past two years she worked at Children’s National Hospital in the Pediatric Health Network. She was the Medical Director for Network Management and was instrumental to the development of the Network. The College of Southern Maryland expresses gratitude for Dr. Abney’s service to the public and students to have an open discussion on the current state.

"Consequences of the Pandemic – Mental Illness, Substance Abuse and Treatment Options"
Wednesday, April 14, 10-11:20 a.m.

Featuring Calvert County Behavioral Health professionals (Host: Professor of Communication Denise Gilmer-Knudson)

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. Calvert County Behavioral Health professionals will discuss the pandemic’s impact on our local population, and provide resources that are available including behavioral health assessments, counseling, Outpatient Mental Health Clinic, substance related education and prevention, substance abuse treatment, recovery support services, and more.

The mission of Calvert County Behavioral Health is to provide comprehensive, integrated behavioral health services that promote the health, resilience, and quality of life of our community members. The Health Department is committed to providing services to individuals of all ages who have mental, emotional, and substance use issues. Our providers offer programs and services tailored to each patient in a safe and respectful environment.

Adjust the Procedure
 Play Discussion
Wednesday, April 14, 1-2:20 p.m. with CSM Professor Rachel Smith and playwright Jake Shore

Discussion of Shore's recently premiered drama conceived during the pandemic and created with Zoom theater in mind.

It's early Fall 2020 and the pandemic consumes a Manhattan university. In addition to tracking rising cases of COVID on campus, the school's administrators face immigration problems, suicide threats, and professors losing their minds. But in the midst of all the madness, it's the internal bureaucratic battles that threaten the school's preservation. Over the course of two conflict-ridden Zoom meetings, ADJUST THE PROCEDURE gives audiences a rare peek into the business of higher education at a moment of multiple reckonings. The performance is available for viewing at

“Public Attitudes on Race in America”
Wednesday, April 14, 7-8:30 p.m.

The public is invited join Center for the Study of Democracy director, Dr. Antonio Ugues, in discussing public views of race and racism in America. This fourth program in the virtual series, "Bridging Our Gaps: Community Conversations to Strengthen Our Democracy," is hosted by CSM’s Equity and Inclusive Diversity Office and SMCM’s Center for the Study of Democracy and Office of Inclusive Diversity, Equity, Access, and Accountability.

The springboard for our conversation is Dr. Ugues’ 2020 Study on Democracy and Elections in America, a national survey that captured public opinion on the integrity of the 2020 election, policing in America, US immigration policy, and race and racism. In this program for Social Justice Week, Dr. Ugues will provide an overview of the data regarding American’s views of race and racism. The audience will then break out into smaller groups to discuss the data and their implications. We will conclude with audience reflection on what the data suggests about the ability of Americans to bridge gaps in our understandings of race and racism.

“Social Justice Day Showcase of Documentaries and PSAs”
Thursday, April 15, 2:30-4 p.m. with CSM Professor Olaniyi Areke


The Social Justice Day Digital Media Production competition will showcase documentaries and PSAs by CSM students that deal with the theme “Social Justice in Crisis.” This showcase follows a video training that showed students how to use the mobile phone camera to film like a pro and produce quality digital materials for the Social Justice Day digital media competition. Prof. Areke serves as coordinator of the award-winning CSM Digital Media Production program.


“The Pandemic’s Impact on the Homeless Community”
Thursday, April 15, 7:15 p.m.

Featuring Sandy Washington, Executive Director of Lifestyles, hosted by CSM Professor Tatiana Vrem.

Join Sandy Washington, Executive Director of Lifestyles, as she discusses the current state of services for the homeless in Charles County and how the homeless population has been affected by the pandemic. A long-time Social Justice Day presenter, Washington inspires students to volunteer to give back to their community and those in need. In 1998 she co-founded LifeStyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc., whose mission is to empower people and assist in providing a better quality of life through social awareness and community development. Although the organization is located in La Plata, MD, assistance is provided to residents throughout Southern Maryland. Washington and the organization have been recognized throughout the state of Maryland for their dedication to serving those who are homeless, from street outreach to more permanent housing initiatives.

“Social Justice Week Scholarship Awards Ceremony”

Friday, April 16, 1-2 p.m.

This ceremony will recognize the winners of the campus-wide 2021 Social Justice Week Scholarship Competition. First, Second and Third-place scholarships and honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the following categories: Academic Research, Literary Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, Digital Media and Film, and Global Justice in Crisis. Scholarship prizes provided by The College of Southern Maryland's Equity and Inclusive Diversity Office, Global Initiatives Committee, and Student Life Department.

Just announced! Check out the Social Justice Week Scholarship Competition Finalists:
View the Competition Finalists

“CSM Book Club Discussion of Animal Farm
Friday, April 16, 3-4 p.m.

Join CSM Book Club students and Prof. Krista Keyes as they discuss the 1945 novella, Animal Farm, by George Orwell.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
“A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus, the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible. When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.” –

If you’re unable to read the book, please feel free to join the discussion. Here are some free resources: Animal Farm Video Summary from  and  British Library: An Introduction to Animal Farm

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