Kharissa Forte prioritizes Black wellness, highlights self-care, in the heart of Kansas City

By Sophie Oswald
Photos by Travis Young

Kharissa Forte breaks through barriers. Today, she is a Black woman business owner at the wheel of Grace & Grind. It all started in 2018 when she and her husband, Wesley, were on the brink of filing for divorce, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Before Grace & Grind, Kharissa worked in digital marketing, social media, and website design. 

She was even an on-air radio personality and associate producer. She enjoyed her work in these positions, but she did not feel fulfilled. “Those industries can be so ego-centric, and I didn’t feel like I was actually making a difference in the world. Not to mention, I was smoking around the clock, and chugging energy drinks like my paycheck depended on it,” she explained. 

She was talented in these jobs and continued to work them for a while, but eventually, it all just clicked. “One day, I just had a breakdown and literally in that moment decided I want to work in health and wellness somehow. In hindsight, I think the need for me to prioritize my own health was the guiding light,” she said. “That year, it was 2019, I quit the agency I was at and started working at a local health store. I also enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a health coach. The next year, Grace & Grind was born,” she said. 

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How The Kink Educator began her path to sex education

Bad Ass Babe Emerson Karsh

By Nicole Mitchell

Emerson Karsh (she/her) is a sex and kink educator and creator of the Instagram account @thekinkeducator. She often shares information on the world of kink on her Instagram account, such as aftercare conversations that need to be had or discussing sexual stereotypes. She’s also written a few articles for Rachel Wright, an online sexual health blog, including Your Guide to Ghosting: Why it Happens & How to Recover and 12 Important Facts About Orgasms That Are All Based In Science. Sex is all about feeling comfortable and connected, as well as having fun. Today, Karsh talks about how she got started in sex education and where she’s planning on going next.

Tell me about your background. What did you do before you taught sex education? 

Before I became a sex and kink educator I was actually in sexual assault prevention and education actually! I would present to fraternities, sororities, and other college organizations on topics surrounding sexual assault prevention like consent 101, bystander intervention, alcohol and consent, and healthy relationships. I loved this work but as a survivor myself, it was draining. At this time I also realized I wanted to put my personal love for kink and my sexual assault prevention education background together as one of my assaults occurred within a D/s dynamic I was in when I was young and didn’t have the right tools to understand the importance of vetting, safewords, negotiation, and aftercare. I have also worked as a personal assistant in a few different fields to make money.

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Q&A with Justice Gatson, organizer of Saturday’s Kansas City Abortion Rally

By Emily Park

Calling all midwestern intersectional feminists!

A rally for abortion justice is taking place this weekend in KC. After the news of what’s happened in Texas, KC organizations came together to plan something to show fierce opposition to the newest attack on our reproductive rights. After all, Missouri is no stranger to attacks on reproductive justice.

This rally is COVID-safe and socially distanced. Come and hear the lineup of incredible speakers who will address the Texas ban and what it means for Missourians. Also, visit local organizers and advocates—us.

Catcall is a proud co-host of this event, alongside Reale Justice Network, ACLU of Missouri, Operation Liberation, Barrier Babes, and more.

Where: Mill Creek Park

When: 10 a.m. Oct. 2

In advance of the march, we (virtually) sat down with Justice Gatson, the event’s lead organizer and founder of the Reale Justice Network for a Q&A about the event and reproductive justice efforts in Missouri and Kansas.

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Badass Babes: Wendy Doyle — CEO of United WE on women empowerment and policy changes

By Nicole Mitchell
Photos by Justina Kellner

Wendy Doyle is passionate about supporting women of all backgrounds, and she champions that passion through United WE, an evidence-based organization that works on systemic policy changes supporting women. Currently, Doyle is the president and CEO—a position she’s held for eight years—but she’s been working with the organization, starting as a volunteer, for nearly 25 years.

And a lot of work can happen in 25 years. Prior to her time at United WE, Doyle worked for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas as the executive vice president where she helped many single women find support. It was in that position that she began volunteering with United WE—which at the time was called the Women’s Foundation. In 2013, Doyle stepped full time into her current role where she keeps on giving—seriously giving—from supporting financially to attending events and starting new projects for the company, she does it all.

“If we can systematically solve some of the policy challenges, this would make a great impact to these women who are needing basic services,” Doyle says.

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Justice Gatson is a grassroots organizer fighting for a better Kansas City

Bad Ass Babes: Justice Gatson

Words & Photos By Kelcie McKenney

As a grassroots movement organizer, fighter for the end of police brutality, manager of bailout funds, legislative advocate at the ACLU, and a doula helping Black mothers bring babies into the world, Justice Gatson has been fighting for a better Kansas City for a long time. 

Gatson, the founder of the Reale Justice Network and a representative of the ACLU, is the organizer behind this weekend’s Women’s March where Kansas City will “unify to protect ALL Black Lives and ALL Womxn.”

Gatson grew up on the East side of Kansas City—in the same house her mother lives in today, just a few blocks from where she lives now. She was first introduced to social justice organizing at her middle school, Genesis Promise Academy, a nationally recognized alternative school for inner-city youth in Kansas City. 

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