The session in which we speak with Kimberly McGlonn, Ph.D. about her brand, Grant Blvd and the ways she works to challenge economic injustice and marginalization. Dr. McGlonn launched Grant Blvd – named for the Milwaukee street where she grew up – as a sustainable design brand creating pathways to employment for people with a history of incarceration. All of their original and stylish garments are made from reclaimed fabrics, and through her brand, Kimberly works to advance the collective good of both people and the planet.
You can learn more on her website; you can also shop there! Fyi – they’re also making and selling masks right now.
The session in which we spoke with Selena Alonzo, J.D. a public defender in Maryland. Selena is a Mexican-American and was strongly influenced by her family experience of having several of the most important men in her life (grandfather, uncles, cousin) incarcerated for various reasons. Selena holds deep knowledge of the effects of incarceration on people and their families. Knowing that the truest solution will be systemic change in our criminal justice system, Selena uses her law degree to work within the system to help change a potentially negatively spiraling life course for people as best she can.
We spoke with Selena just as the pandemic began to shut down the nation and asked for an update – this update also needs an update as we received it on March 25, 2020 but is interesting nonetheless:
It’s incredible how much everything has changed. I never realized how much I took for granted before…
I’ve been working remotely since 3/13. All of the cases I had set have been postponed until May. As of right now, the only thing we are able to do is file bond review motions to get our clients who are detained pre-trial out of jail. The majority of Assistant State Attorneys are opposing our bond review motions and are trying to keep people in jail. They are willing to release clients if they plead guilty to something but that is incredibly coercive given that we have no way of conveying any plea offers to our clients. We still have to go into the jails to interview clients which is a risk to both us and a bigger risk for our incarcerated clients because we could be silent carriers. I’m really hoping they figure out a way for us to interview clients over the phone soon… A small bright spot has been that police are arresting far less people. On an average bonds docket, I would have 15-20 people. Yesterday, I only had 4. Maybe after this cops will realize they don’t need to arrest every single person for “crimes” like disorderly or obstructing and hindering. SA
The session in which we talk with Cheri Honkala, co-founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC). Cheri was removed from her Mother’s home as a girl and raised in foster care. She later attended college and had a child of her own. After experiencing homelessness as a single mom due to unfortunate circumstances, Honkala realized her Mother was not ‘bad’ after all; She was struggling in a society that offered no resources. Cheri has been organizing poor and homeless people for over 30 years and is now a General in the Poor People’s Army.
The session in which we chat with 3 passionate team members from the North Philadelphia Peace Park. The NPPP is a charitable eco-campus providing free education, health & wellness, and produce programs to the Philadelphia Community. We chatted with Nyasha Felder, Li Sumpter, and Bird – each bringing different knowledge, skill, and perspective to their volunteer work at the NPPP.
The Peace Park has recently launched a project campaign to get their planned Peace Pavilion completed. To learn about it and donate please visit: https://ioby.org/project/north-philly-peace-park-peace-pavillion-project
In this session, we devote our podcast to things we can do to promote racial justice. We also made the following commitment based upon a campaign crafted by Tangia Al-Awaji Estrada of the WOC Podcasters Community which is led by Danielle Desir:
“We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many many others at the hands of police. This is a continuation of the systemic racism pervasive in our country since its inception and we are committed to standing against racism in all its forms.
We believe that to be silent is to be complicit.
We believe that Black lives matter.
We believe that Black lives are more important than property.
We believe that we have a responsibility to use our platforms to speak out against this injustice whenever and wherever we are witness to it.
In creating digital media we have built audiences that return week after week to hear our voices and we will use our voices to speak against anti-blackness and police brutality, and we encourage our audiences to be educated, engaged, and to take action.”
Thank you Tangia and WOC Podcasters. We stand with you.
The session in which we chatted with Brandy Ryan,JD, staff attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in Washington, DC. Brandy is a strong advocate for people experiencing homelessness and her work focuses right now on homelessness and education. Nobody should have to live without a home to live in. There’s just no place like a home.
Check out the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty nlchp.org. According to the website:
“Given close quarters, compromised immune systems, and an aging population, people experiencing homelessness are exceptionally vulnerable to communicable diseases, not excluding the current outbreak of coronavirus, COVID-19”
You can read more about the impact of coronavirus on homelessness at nlchp.org.
We were surprised when telling people we were starting a psychology and social justice podcast met with negative reactions such as ‘Really? Those two just don’t go together’. It didn’t take long before we understood that the health and medical professions, including psychology, have negative reputations in marginalized communities. In one of our early interviews Cheryll Rothery, PsyD, ABPP, referred to this as ‘a healthy mistrust of the profession’, and with increased understanding we quickly came to agree (http://shrinksonthird.com/a-healthy-mistrust-of-the-profession).
It seems self-evident that all members of society should have equal rights including equal access to opportunities so they can exercise them. But, we mental health professionals have not done a good job advocating for the people we profess to serve. Sure, there have always been activist mental health workers, even psychoanalysts had their activists among them. But no, we cannot say ‘not all psychologists’. True advocacy really never became the norm; even activist clinicians and researchers have mischaracterized and/or left women and minorities out of research and practice. And what have we all done to change that?
Of course, once you begin to see the deep systemic nature of oppressions everywhere such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism, you can also begin to change your role in it at every opportunity. As the Shrinks on Third, as psychologists, as women and privileged white people, we pledge to do better. Psychologists have been taught to remain value-free and non-judgmental. If advocating for human rights and social justice goes against that norm (and we know some colleagues would say it does) we must still take that step and we vow to do so. The patriarchy’s creed of systemic injustice must be dismantled to end all violations of human rights including mental health access and discriminatory practices of all kinds. This is the place where psychology and social justice meet.
For many of the people we interview, the good works they do are meaningful in two ways. They get to help other people and often see the positive outcomes of their efforts. This alone is extremely rewarding. In addition, we’ve noticed that many people end up doing the important, transformational work that they do because they have been through a difficult, possibly even traumatic experience themselves. It makes sense that they’d want to help others who have had similar experiences. One of the best ways to move past trauma is to become active, to use it (the understanding of the situation, the learning that occurred, the experience of recovery, etc. ) to do good. It’s easy to get stuck as the passive recipient of a negative experience. For those who can turn their own struggle into a way to help others, it can be extremely meaningful and rewarding.
Actively work to oppose racism and unjust practices, Look for applications of psychological knowledge to create change, Consider important intersections of race, class, gender, ability, and sexual orientation when looking at any psychological or mental health problem, Promote empathy and understanding for marginalized groups, Question the status quo, Examine our own biases and attitudes to increase our own awareness and that of others, Address and challenge all oppressions, Encourage respectful dialog, Find ways to take action, such as doing the research to learn and educate others, and speaking up, Do what we can to make a difference in the lives of others and even more so, others who are not just like us, through advocacy and social action, Center others, especially those most marginalized, in all that we do.
** We reserve the right to add or change this pledge to reflect ongoing learning and understanding.