GSE news brief artwork.
Christina King.

Published February 13, 2024


GSE researcher participated in panel on mental wellness in Buffalo’s Black community

Christina King, PhD, clinical assistant professor of literacy education in the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education, served as an expert on a recent panel that took center stage in Buffalo. The event titled "Hope & Healing" focused on mental wellness in Buffalo’s Black community and was hosted by the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers in collaboration with Westminster Presbyterian Church.

The event was held on Jan. 13 and addressed the pressing need for mental health support in Buffalo's Black community. The panel, co-led by Rebecca Ashare, PhD, associate professor of psychology in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences and Deborah Erwin, PhD, professor emeritus, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-founder of the National Witness Project, featured discussions on the cumulative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the racist shooting incident at the Jefferson Avenue Tops grocery store in May 2022 as well as the Christmas blizzard of 2022, all of which have added to the community's burden in recent years.

Ashare emphasized the importance of addressing mental wellness needs. "I’m hoping that simply by having these types of conversations and providing a forum where we can listen to and learn from the community, we will raise awareness and improve understanding of the mental wellness needs of the Black community,” She noted.

King brought a unique perspective to the conversation with her background in curriculum and instruction. King, who recently moved to Buffalo, expressed her eagerness to learn from the panelists and the community about their areas of concern.  I was excited to share my work, but I also looked forward to learning how I can tailor that work to meet the needs of our community," she stated.

King has extensive experience teaching courses on critical literacy. The work of critical literacy focuses on social issues, including inequities of race, class, gender or disability and how language and other semiotic resources shape our understanding of these issues. Her research explores how diverse literature for children and young adults can be taught and learned within a critical literacy framework. "We have to acknowledge the lived experiences of young people, especially young people of color, regarding race and racism before we can teach them about these issues," King emphasized. “It would be misguided for us as teachers to expect these children to leave their experiences at the door rather than providing them with the opportunity to discuss how these issues affect their lives.”

The panel also included Dee Johnson from the Witness Project, Sara Taylor from BIPOC PEEEEEEK, Latise Hairston, PhD, from Hope Harvesting and Veronica Golden, LMSW.

The event was free and open to the public. It aimed to raise awareness and improve understanding of mental wellness needs in Buffalo’s Black community, offering a platform for valuable discussions and strategies for collective healing.

Tuesday News Briefs feature the stories of the Graduate School of Education faculty, students and alumni who are engaged in their communities and making an impact through their hard work, dedication and research initiatives. If you have a story to share, please email us with the details for consideration as a future news feature.