As Black History Month in the U.S. continues throughout February; we’ve had the opportunity to celebrate the essential health and wellness contributions that Black Americans have made (this year’s theme). Progress and change wouldn’t be possible without the pioneers of the past and the innovators of today who are working to define the future.
And that future is dependent on what is implemented now. If we shy away from the disparities and racism that clearly exist within healthcare; we can’t confront it head on. By recognising, challenging and changing the systems and structures that create new and/or perpetuate historical inequity; we can be part of how this country moves forward. Supporting community programs and grassroots organizations that aim to achieve this is one of the most effective ways we can make a difference.
Justice is what love looks like in public. | Cornel West
Tackling the symptoms of racial inequality within the U.S. healthcare system comprises only one part of a multi-layered social justice issue. Making sure Black People and other communities of Colour have fair and equal access to health and wellness services that address these symptoms represents an important first step. However, if what created these disparities in the first place is not confronted by all of us; the cycle of poor health outcomes for Black Americans will continue.
When resources, policies or practices establish a pattern of disadvantage you begin to see that good healthcare isn’t merely about medical and mental health support. Health and wellness that enables everyone to thrive includes things like food security; livable wages; affordable housing; ending period poverty and improved access to public transportation.
The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. | bell hooks
While it’s meaningful to educate ourselves about the causes of social injustice and foster a more thorough understanding of how we can take action; those of us sharing what we learn during Black History Month must be cognizant about not focusing solely on Black trauma and pain. We have a duty to acknowledge inequities; but a responsibility to celebrate Black resiliency, innovation, beauty and joy.
The following list of groups and organizations are the embodiment of this positive change; they honour their communities by concentrating on healing as a tool for effective social transformations. If you want to support Black health and wellness; amplify their work, volunteer your time, contribute money and resources and/or take meaningful action that supports their goals.
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM)
Working to overcome barriers that limit access to emotional and mental health support; BEAM describes itself as “a national training, movement building, and grant making institution that is dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.” The cornerstone of their work is ‘Healing Justice’; identifying ways to intervene holistically when responding to generational trauma and violence.
With spaces both online and in real life (Brooklyn, NY), Ethel’s Club offers resources, therapy sessions and connections to mental health resources for People of Colour. Through highlighting intentional healing and joy that celebrates abundant, diverse and nuanced lives; this social and wellness society aims to “rebuild worlds, restructure our communities, and design for a future filled with creativity and rest.”
The Okra Project
Through this food-based grassroots mutual aid collective, The Okra Project aims to provide Black trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people with healthful home cooked meals; and other nourishment resources that counter food insecurity. Although currently only available throughout New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia this organization aims to expand and/or facilitate similar programs around the globe; as well as throughout the rest of the U.S. All meals are prepared by Black trans chefs in the recipient’s house or handed out to LGBTQ2S+ homeless.
Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA)
As Black women are over three times more likely to die or suffer complications during pregnancy or postpartum; BMMA aims to expand resources, research and shifts in healthcare culture (including policy change) that significantly improve Black maternal health outcomes.
Using advocacy and organized action that champions policy change that comprehensively addresses racial health disparities; Black Health aims to promote disease prevention and achieve equity within all wellness services and programs throughout the U.S.
The Center for Black Health & Equity
Facilitating the implementation of community-led, comprehensive policies that promote health justice campaigns; The Center for Black Health & Equity pursues programs and services that tackle race-based healthcare disparities for Black Americans.
Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It’s really working to create something beautiful. | Assata Shakur
This is the final post of TNs Black History Month 2022 series; I hope you learned something inspiring and found out about some incredible Black health and wellness trailblazers and organizations that you can serve and support. No input or action is too small; we can all make a difference.
What Black health and wellness organizations and/or activists do you follow and support? How have you been celebrating Black History this year?