2019 Black Lives Matter Teach-In


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Black Lives Matter Pratt 2019 Teach-In:

Safety and Wellness

Black Lives Matter Pratt 2019 Teach-In: Safety and Wellness will be held Friday, April 12. This years’ Teach-In brings together perspectives, ideas and theories related to a very core concern to all on campus: how do we feel safe and what can well-being mean to us and what does it look like? The theme of Safety and Well Being interrogates the idea of what safety is within the grander context of an oppressive society. How do we practice self-care when faced with not only institutional racism, but with overt racist behaviors and attitudes? What steps do we take towards wellness?

The goal of Black Lives Matter Pratt (BLM-Pratt) is to showcase workshops and panels from some of the most creative and critically forward thinkers of our time. We believe in fostering conversations that inspire, educate, and engage with the Brooklyn community in substantial ways.

2019 Teach -In Schedule of Events

(Subject to Change)

Welcome Remarks and Memorial Recitation of Names

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM in Student Union

Welcome address by BLM Co-Chairs followed by the reading of the names of the unarmed Black bodies that have been shot in 2019. Breakfast will be provided.

The Worlds of Words – An Empowerment Workshop

10:00 AM- 11:30 AM in Center for Equity and Inclusion

Which worlds do we open by speaking multiple languages? What does it mean to feel at home in a language, a space, a university? Using spoken words, creative writing and music, this empowerment session centers the role of language and translation on campus. We will play with words, speak about dynamics of inclusion/exclusion, have fun, and value linguistic diversity within ourselves and around us. This workshop is designed for bilingual or multilingual Pratt members (students, faculty, staff) who speak English as a foreign language.

Led by Dr. Layla Zami, an innovative interdisciplinary artist and academic, currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute. 

Peeling Away the Layers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

10:00 AM-11:30 AM in Memorial Hall Room 006A

The project explores the use of private spaces that remove auditory and visual stimuli from the user’s experience. The constructed space is intended to block sound and excessive light from the surroundings of the user while she/he is experiencing panic/a panic attack. The project is based on the experimental hypothesis that it may be easier to regulate emotions by removing sensory stimuli from the environment. The intention is to create private spaces with ‘open source’ designs that user’s can construct at home. A prototype with additional functions can be provided by the State government, to be placed in public places.

Led by Brooklyn based Industrial Designer, Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal who uses a design practice that utilizes research as the compass, and the process of ‘making’ as an exploration of possible outcomes. A graduate student of Industrial Design at Pratt Institute, with a background in advertising and branding, Kartikaye draws influences from several disciplines into his work. His most recent research is based on altered experiences that can change people’s lives.

(Over) Do No Harm: Seeking Safety in the Health Care System

10:00 AM-11:30 AM in North Hall 113

The subtle biases, the daily injustices that are neither small nor benign, the invisible monster of deeply embedded racist beliefs and practices that build up into a “tragedy” that is neither accidental nor inevitable… to people of color who suffer from mental illness, this is what our health care system looks like today. An unjust healthcare system that often harms the mentally ill should be at the center of the conversation as we start to acknowledge the systemic racism and violence towards black people. While we know that roughly 25% of the 998 people killed by police in 2018 lived with a mental illness, we understand that this statistic under-represents the problem, because medical centers are not required to report incidents in which mental health patients experience violence. (Washington Post, New York Times) In 2014, 52% of medical centers reported that their security carried handguns. (2014 survey) Yet police officers and hospital security rarely have the proper training to de-escalate situations with people experiencing mental distress. This creates an artificial climate of fear that encourages authorities to shoot first and ask questions later, and poses particular dangers to people who live at the intersection of blackness and mental illness. This workshop is an action-oriented conversation with professionals and activists working on policy reform to address institutional racism in the health care system, emphasizing concrete solutions and reform strategies.

Led by Sydney Cespedes, Pratt Center for Community Development.


Lunch/Long Table with Shaun Leonardo

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM in Student Union

The Long Table is a means of generating open discussion about a specified topic, using a stylised environment and participation protocol to turn ordinary conversation into a performance. The Long Table experiments with participation and public engagement by combining re-appropriating a dinner table atmosphere as a public forum and encouraging informal conversation on serious topics.

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice is participatory in nature and invested in a process of embodiment, promoting the political potential of attention and discomfort as a means to disrupt meaning and shift perspective.

Towards Racial Equity With the NY Health Act

2:15 PM – 3:15 PM in Main Building 301

In this panel talk, healthcare professionals and health equity advocates will discuss the New York Health Act (NYHA), a state level plan for single-payer universal healthcare, and how it might address racial inequity in New York’s healthcare system. A brief overview of the New York Health Act will be presented, along with strategies for future action.

Led by: Kimberleigh Smith, Senior Director for Community Health Planning and Policy at Callen-Lorde, Patricia Loftman, CNM, LM, MS, FACNM, who has spent decades bringing midwifery care to women in New York. She is a Board Member of The American College of Nurse Midwives and is Chair, American College of Nurse Midwives, Midwives of Color Committee, and Katie Robbins, MPH. Director of the Campaign for New York Health.

Say What?! Street Harassment Intervention Strategies

2:15 PM – 3:15 PM in Center for Equity and Inclusion

Street harassment is a persistent problem that impacts thousands of women, gender-nonconforming folks, and femmes throughout New York City daily. More than a mere annoyance, street harassment can often escalate from verbal to physical violence, resulting in injuries and even death for simply navigating a public space. Although this problem affects many, few people possess the necessary skills to intervene when they are bystanders of street harassment. This workshop will give attendees concrete skills to intervene and de-escalate street harassment when they witness it. While this workshop is geared towards street harassment, these skills can be applied to de-escalate any conflict situation that arise.

Led by Sal Munoz, Coordinator of Communications & Administration, Pratt Center for Community Development


Decolonize This Place Keynote Lecture

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM in Student Union

Join members of Decolonize this Place for an afternoon of discussion on the urgency of decolonization, and exploring strategies, tactics, and art-making in the struggle for freedom and liberation in New York City.

Led by:

Amin Husain: B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science, a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law, and an LL.M. from Columbia Law School. He practiced law for five years before transitioning to art, studying at the School of the International Center of Photography and Whitney Independent Study Program.

Nitasha Dhillon: B.A. in Mathematics from St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York and School of International Center of Photography. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Media Study – University of Buffalo in New York. Together, Amin and Nitasha are MTL Collective, a collaboration that joins research, aesthetics, organizing, and action in its art practice. MTL is a founder of Tidal: Occupy Theory, Direct Action Front for Palestine, Global Ultra Luxury Faction, and most recently MTL+, the collective facilitating Decolonize This Place, an action-oriented movement and decolonial formation around six strands of struggle: Indigenous Struggle, Black Liberation, Free Palestine, Global Wage Worker, De-Gentrification, and Dismantling Patriarchy.

Marz Saffore: Artist, organizer, and educator born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. In 2015, she earned her B.A. in Studio Art and Film & Media Studies from University of Rochester, and she earned her M.F.A. in Studio Art from NYU in 2017. Her multimedia art practice blurs the line between that which is art/culture, political/personal, and private/public through video, performance, and installation. Marz is also a member of MTL+ Collective, a facilitating group of Decolonize This Place. This Fall, Marz returned to New York University (NYU) for her 4th semester of teaching and her first year as a PhD student in Media, Culture, and Communication.

Amy Weng: B.A. in Art History and Visual Arts from SUNY Purchase College, and a M.A. in Sociology from Columbia University. While working in early childhood education, she participated in group art exhibitions and performances in Brooklyn and Berlin through Lucky Gallery, now known as De-Construkt Projekts. She has organized with A New World in Our Hearts, Occupy Sandy, Direct Action Front for Palestine, Asians for Black Lives – NYC and Justice for Akai Gurley Family. She is also a member of MTL+ Collective, a facilitating group of Decolonize This Place.