March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the month we’ll be profiling D.C. based women you should know. Amy Morse, the founder of Ideas Club, is heading the project. Today she profiles Rebecca Kukla. If you’d like to suggest someone for Amy to profile, tweet at her. -ed.
Rebecca Kukla boxes above her weight. With a D.C. flag tattoo emblazoned on her thigh, the 100 lb. single mom, powerlifter, sommelier, and philosophy professor kills it in the ring. She applies her energy and curiosity to learning new things – she started boxing in her 40s – and to her community, where she is heavily engaged. As a proud resident of Columbia Heights, she patronizes the local independent neighborhood businesses and supports the DC public schools. She loves DC because it combines vibrant diversity with an incredible range of projects, visions, and passions – almost everyone is doing something exciting and unusual with their lives. She loves how progressive the city is, and how each neighborhood is like its own little village.
Making an Impact on her Community
In the philosophy classroom at Georgetown, she coaches young adults on how to think critically by interrogating their values and the world around them. On a volunteer basis, she teaches philosophy to convicts at Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup. Additionally, she consults on policy issues and legal cases, especially concerning reproductive health.
Rebecca would like to teach philosophy and critical social reflection to public school kids (hopefully next year). As the city and the country go through growing pains regarding racial diversity, gender and LGBTQI equality and enfranchisement, growing wealth inequality, police violence and more, she believes that critical thinking skills and toolkits for questioning norms and institutions are very important.
Although gentrification has brought vibrancy, diversity, money, and opportunities to the city, it is also dismantling long-standing communities and displacing minority residents. Rebecca is concerned that this is not only unjust, but it causes tension and erases some of the distinctive character of the city. She wants to ensure that we are extremely thoughtful about letting the city develop, and about how gentrification can incorporate, rather than erase, the history and longstanding residents of the city.
Woman from History Who Inspires Her
Angela Davis. She was a philosophy professor, a civil rights leader, and a prison reform activist who spent many years in prison herself. So many academics remain cloistered on campus. She is a true public intellectual who has used her education as a tool for fighting for causes she believes in. She is willing to take huge personal risks in the name of ideas and values that are important to her.