Public health refers to the “science and art of promoting health, preventing disease, and prolonging life through the organized efforts of society” (Nutbeam, 1998).
Although seemingly altruistic, public health has largely functioned to simultaneously erase, police and pathologize Black people. Whilst public health continues to identify Black health inequities, the discipline does not address the sources of persistent suffering. As Black public health learners, we grapple with the tension of studying and working in a field that is epistemologically anti-Black.
For the academic year, 2018 – 2019 and 2019 – 2020, The Collective received financial support, $30,000 ($15,000 per annum), from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, the University of Toronto. In 2021, The Collective was awarded the Level BIPOC grant ($50,000) from the Vancouver Foundation.
In accepting these funds, we have been forced to contend with the implications of such a decision, given that this support comes from the very institution we seek to critique and question. We have wrestled with this relationship thinking through:
1) how we maintain our independence,
2) how our work is not directed or limited, and
3) how we maintain ownership of the work undertaken by The Collective.
We have developed principles to guide decision-making on what funding we will accept and who we will accept funding from.
We acknowledge our different relationships with Toronto and Turtle Island; however, recognize the common thread of our core team all being first or second-generation Canadians of African descent from East Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa. We further acknowledge the lack of input from African Canadians and Caribbeans directly in our core team; however, we actively draw upon work and contributions of African Canadians and those of African Caribbean descent.
We come to this work drawing upon different experiences and perspectives shaped by our varying social positions. We recognize our personal, professional and/or intellectual positionalities cohere and diverge with the work that we seek to do. In many ways we are conscientiously learning and unlearning the social constructs of our positionality.
Our positionality recognizes and/or critiques the intersectional notions of differences in politics, class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, gender expression, disAbility, education, language, immigration status and spiritual practice.