Archive | August, 2018

UBUNTU: “I Am Because We Are”: Building a Professional Community for Black Ladies in Public Health

10 Aug

“Public Health provides an aspirational combination of interdisciplinary work, purpose that far exceeds profits, and an opportunity to make real, tangible, change in the world. For Black women, choosing a career in Public Health often guarantees these ambitions juxtaposed to unique complexities of identity and the profession.

Consider a black woman working in Public Health, undoubtedly, she understands [and is constantly reminded] of her membership in populations often disproportionately affected by disease and death. Simultaneously, she bears witness to the occupational penalty, documented as wage gaps and concrete ceilings, despite extraordinary educational achievements. Consequently, these misfortunes are exacerbated with additional intersections of marginalized identity (disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, immigrant population, etc.).

If the data about our population tells us anything, it’s that health and occupational inequities are real experiences for Black women. However, we address these issues as mutually exclusive paradigms that should neither coalesce nor affect public health success. While this is expected, Black women are left to navigate these issues alone.

Black Ladies in Public Health (BLiPH) grew out of this double consciousness. BLiPH created a place nestled between the professional and personal woes of occupational and health inequity. We provide safe-space that does not yet exist in the broader world. BLiPH is the sanctuary where we unpack issues out in the open, through healthy discourse and transformational thinking. We are honest and vulnerable in ways that are restorative to the collective; even the things left unspoken are often understood. We strive to add a more personable approach to engaging and elevating members. We have curated an environment where our identity, our experiences, our education, and our vision are central to the solutions that will transform our realities. We are literally leveraging our status as Black Ladies in Public Health to positively impact the health and success of Black Ladies around the world.”

Dr. Jasmine Ward

Black Ladies in Public Health (BLiPH) was conceived August of 2016, by Dr. Jasmine Ward to create a virtual space to cultivate relationships and promote collaboration in public health scholarship and service. However, the most valuable characteristic of BLiPH became (1) the restorative nature of personal and professional discourse about issues related to public health and (2) the collective resolve to place self-care central to the ideology of the group.

Now approaching the second anniversary, BLiPH is working towards the vision of realizing a more engaged, valued, and empowered membership! BLiPH engages approximately 7,000 members on five social media platforms and fourteen private groups. Top representation comes from cities such as Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, New York, NY, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX, Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, LA, and Boston, MA. Most members are based in the United States, however, approximately 10% represent the global community of public health. Top represented countries outside of US include South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Kenya, Canada, Botswana, Ghana, and Uganda.

BLiPH has formally hosted nineteen local networking events, five webinars, several live sessions, and a signature networking social during the 2017 APHA conference. Moving beyond the networking and professional development activities, 2018 ushered in new beginnings, including the start of BLiPH research and service initiatives. One early example includes a digital marketing campaign conducted in February and March of 2018, during Black history and women’s history months, respectively. The campaign — the E.V.E. Awards — was a first attempt to officially recognize and honor Black Ladies in Public Health, past and present.

As the founder, Dr. Ward has been recognized for her commitment to digital social solutions that support collective impact. In 2018, she was accepted to seven professional public health conferences and several community events across the United States. She received national press recognition, a variety of awards, and most recently, a grant to pilot BLiPH focused research. Representing BLiPH, Dr. Ward has provided consulting and technical assistance to public and private-sector organizations with training focused on social media engagement, grant writing, and cultivating cultural competence in public health workforce development.

BLiPH is beta testing, evaluating, and improving our new-forever home; BLiPH.org. BLiPH.org is positioned to catalyze the growth of the BLiPH network and support the actionable pursuit toward the elimination of occupational and health inequities. BLiPH continues to develop innovative digital strategies to address and engage collective interest of the membership. Activities include:

  • Demystifying the work of public health professionals (particularly in the Black community),
  • Recognizing current and historical contributions of our foremothers,
  • Forming professional/leadership development opportunities,
  • Creating access to culturally responsive public health training,
  • Building mentor/mentee relationships,
  • Crowdsourcing public health solutions,
  • Defining health policies,
  • Hosting networking events,
  • Addressing issues that disproportionally impact the health of Black people, women, and more specifically, Black women.

Be sure to look out for BLiPH at the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI) 2018 conference in San Diego, where they will highlight organizations using digital platforms to address public health through a social justice lens. We will also host the second annual BLiPH networking social at Sparks Gallery on November 11th, immediately following the APHA opening session. (Doors open at 7pm)Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – @BLiPH16, #BLiPH16 or #BliPH

For more information about BLiPH please email Dr. Jasmine Ward at ladyjward@bliph.org.

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