On July 23rd, early childhood education instructor, author and founder of Threads of Justice, Katie Kissinger, held a discussion on anti-bias education at Baltimore’s Red Emma’s Coffee Shop.
Kissinger’s passion for social justice and activism started as a teenager when she attended a collaborative project which brought Chicago black and white youth together to reflect on the issues of racism and poverty. This first experience would become an initial step for Kissinger on a road that would lead her to activism against bias, particularly implicit bias, in school settings.
“I was exposed, for the first time, into the realities of racism and poverty and recognizing my part in that as a white person. And it kind of completely dismantled my world view in a way that allowed me to see injustice first hand,” said Kissinger. “We were assigned projects, one with a local organizing group and mine was the Welfare Rights Organization which was on the south side of Chicago at the time. This was 1969, they were a powerful group of African American women knocking door to door organizing folks on assistance, so, that was what I did day to day.”
After this experience, Kissinger returned home and informed her family she was “joining the revolution.” This led to her acquiring her B.A. in Sociology and a job at Head Start where she would begin to develop an interest in fighting implicit bias, specifically, within education.
“My first job with my new degree was working for a Head Start Program and, so, that’s when I sort of started to look at education as a different kind of vehicle for social change and social justice. I worked in Head Start for a few years and, then, I had an opportunity to go to Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena,” said Kissinger. “It was a Quaker-founded-college where they believed that what’s missing in teacher education is supporting the development of social conscious. So, all the theory and everything we looked at in that degree of human development was grounded in challenging the status quo, the white supremacist paradigm and that allowed me to combine my anti-oppression passion with education.” …
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Once labeled “Murder City”, the last few years in Baltimore and the state in general have seen a rise in a different type of violence that has exceeded the others. In 2016, there were a total of three-hundred-eighteen homicides in the city compared to the over two-thousand intoxication related deaths in Maryland, 89% of which were opioid related. Though some may only call for harsher sentencing, organizations like the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition(BHRC) are taking a more reductive approach.
Formed in January 2011, BHRC uses harm reduction principles to fight the rising intoxication-death toll in the city, as well as the ripple effects of drug overdose.
According to their website, harm reduction is defined as “a range of policies and practices designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with drug use, sex work, and other activities that may contribute to poor health outcomes. Harm reduction is an alternative and, in some cases, a complement to the more conventional approaches of demand and supply reduction.”
Executive Director Harriet Smith presented the benefits of harm reduction practices in an Overdose Response Training workshop at the Greenmount Coffee Lab on June 17th. Below is an outline of the workshop and information on how to get involved.
Overdose Response Training:
1) Recognize the signs of an overdose
If an individual has taken any sort of drug and is experiencing these signs there is a high chance they are overdosing. Some of the common signs of overdose include trouble breathing, trouble sitting up, change in lip color, confusion or unconsciousness.
2) Check for unconsciousness
Place a hand or ear by the individual’s mouth to listen/feel for breathing. If they are not breathing, try reviving them by taking a fist and placing it down knuckles first on the individual’s breast plate, before rubbing up and down. This action, called the sternal rub, is very uncomfortable and the individual will react if they are conscious. …
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