Preparing the Next Generation of Service Providers

Josephine Kim, lecturer on education with a dual faculty appointment at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard School of Dental Medicine, brought Class Action in to provide workshops and discussions with students at the university’s education, dental and public health schools. “I wanted students to know that classism is alive and well,” she explains, “and there are systems in place that keep it so.”

Like Kendra, Josephine finds that there is a lack of awareness around the issues of class and classism in anti-bias training. “We find ways to keep it out of the mix,” she says. “There is shame behind it. We have to take it out of the shadows and address it.

“It is important for people who are service providers to understand the roots and effects of classism so they do not perpetuate it, especially with vulnerable populations.”

It is important for people who are service providers to understand the roots and effects of classism so they do not perpetuate it, especially with vulnerable populations.”

She was looking for a way to provide this class lens to counselors in training at the education school, policy people at the school of public health and providers at the dental school as they prepared to enter or return to the workforce. She found Class Action from an internet search and was impressed by the diversity of the trainers. After preparatory planning sessions with the program staff, Josephine connected with Shane Lloyd, a Class Action trainer specializing in working with higher education institutions and board vice president. “It was nice to see a male of color doing this work.”

Josephine especially appreciates the way that Shane combined his personal narrative with a “multi-sensory way of engaging the audience,” a hallmark of Class Action workshops. She also finds it useful that the workshops help ease people into the discussion of class and classism by starting with class background discussions.

“This is beneficial since many people may find it difficult to talk about their class now,” she says, “but they find it easier to talk about early life,” comments the Harvard lecturer. People can feel shame in talking about class, but talking about their early life – which depended on their parents – takes the onus off of them. So they are more free to have discussion without shame.”

According to Josephine, the feedback that she got from the students included comments that they would like more and longer training in this area. “There was gratitude for creating the space. It allowed people to see their colleagues and peers as multidimensional. It was a great awakening,” she states. “I feel like everyone needs this. Class is so pervasive in society.”