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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I’ve been reading more young-adult contemporary lately and the more I read the more I drool over this literary category. Maybe because it takes me back to my teen years and ignites those feelings of uncertainty but longing expectation of the first love. Maybe I’ve just been reading some really good writing because with every YA contemporary I read; I find myself fangirling out over the author. Similar to how I reacted after reading “Elanor & Park”, I find myself wanting to learn any and everything about Sandhya Menon, author of “When Dimple Met Rishi.” If you’re a big reader of YA contemporary you’ve probably heard of this book and maybe even read it already. For me, this novel was introduced via a Booktuber book club I’m a part of on GoodReads. It was the June pick for the club and based on my pre-reading “research” the text had a lot of hype around it. I try to avoid hype like the plague but when I saw the cover my interest peeked. Then, when I read the short blurb informing me the two main characters were Indian youth who were first-generation Americans, I knew I had to read it. I’m a total advocate for more minorities in media (I have a few essays I should probably look into getting published), especially as the main characters. Additionally, I love cross-cultural reading and my college study abroad experience was in India, so, you could say I have a soft spot. Like any reader, you go in with a few expectations based on the blurb. I knew there was going to be a little romance, some teen angst and the like. What I didn’t expect is to find myself laughing out loud in public as I devoured the novel like it was last Snickers Bar on earth. I didn’t expect to become so invested in the characters either but the fact that I did is a nod to the author’s ability to write characters readers actually care about. However, what was most unexpected was the lesson I learned after reading this novel…

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