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Black History Month: Leading for the future
[Angela Robertson, ED at Parkdale-Queen West CHC in Toronto, speaks in 2018 at the Alliance annual conference. See below for her recent keynote remarks on race-based data collection and more.]
As we conclude our Black History Month series, we want to leave you with a few links and resources on people who are leading the way forward on Black health and health equity in Black communities, and some upcoming opportunities to take action.
First, take a look at recently published videos from the 2020 Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium, held just a couple of weeks ago:
- Angela Robertson, Executive Director of Parkdale-Queen West CHC in Toronto, offered a powerful keynote that lays out some of the steps needed to create a more equitable healthcare system, including a focus on collecting socio-demographic data that can be stratified by race, in order to better understand and take action on inequities in the health system and social services, such as child welfare, as well.
- Camille Orridge, Senior Fellow at Wellesley Institute, gave the opening keynote address, sharing her own experiences and offering an actionable path forward for a more equitable Ontario health system. Orridge speaks about the imperative of unpacking and confronting the barriers, such as racism, to collecting race-based data, and the connection to system-level accountability that would be made possible by broad data insights.
To provide a bit of context about the calls for action on data, here's a paper from late 2019 that closely examines how a lack of race-based data in health care is particularly harming Black women.
Next, get to know Dr. Fatimah Jackson-Best, who is leading the way as Project Manager for the Pathways to Care Project for the Black Health Alliance. Dr. Jackson-Best will be working with many people and organizations in the months to come, in order to fulfill the project's mandate "to remove barriers and improve access to mental health and addiction services for Black children, youth and their families in Ontario by making interventions at the policy, sector, and population levels."
As we move into March, Toronto (the city partnered with TAIBU to promote events) will mark the inaugural Black Mental Health Day on March 2, to call attention to inequities in mental health outcomes and access to services, and to put a spotlight on the impacts of racism, including system racism, on the mental health of Black people. Here's a story from a few years ago that highlights some of the ways that isolation and stigma stand in the way of Black communities getting connected to the mental health supports they need.
Alliance members have been involved in a social prescribing pilot project over the last two years, designed to empower local voices in their own care and promote ownership over health and wellbeing programs. These Zimbabwe grandmothers, who are combatting depression by offering mental health supports that are community-based and responsive to people's needs, are the kind of community leaders and health champions that social prescribing helps to boost and scale to benefit more people.
Lastly, if you're coming to the end of Black History Month and wondering, "OK, what can I do?" as a white person or anyone looking to become an ally to Black and other racialized people, here's a great post on the steps to take to go beyond "good intentions."