While this commemorative month was started in the United States, Canada is not unaffected by the history of Black oppression and anti-Black violence in the past and present. As such, we take this month to pay particular attention to how we can uplift Black communities and practice our anti-racism allyship.
According to the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH), this year’s BHM theme is “Black Health & Wellness”. This theme brings communities of Black health care workers — doctors, nurses, and researchers — to the forefront. It also makes space for other ways of knowing and caring for health: from doulas and midwives for family care, to herbalists and naturopaths, Black wellness begins in many places. “The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well” (ASALH, 2022).
Why is Black Health & Wellness important?
In mainstream, Western medicine, Black people experience high rates of gaslighting and medical racism in healthcare systems. These experiences lead to overall poorer health and lower life expectancies than non-Black people. Harmful stereotypes in medicine include, among others: false studies about Black people having a “higher pain tolerance”, racial biases about Black people and addiction to medications, and even seemingly minor issues like not having diagrams depicting darker-skinned people, making it harder to recognize symptoms of some diseases and disorders. (Although, one Nigerian medical student in California is making great strides in improving this last problem with medical textbook illustrations featuring Black bodies!)
Black health and wellness providers can help to combat these biases and beliefs, through increased presence and representation in the system. However, just like adding Black professionals to a boardroom does not create an inclusive workplace, placing more Black people in medical school and hospital teams is not enough.
One way to help ensure that Black wellness professionals can thrive is to “vote with your dollars” by shopping at and otherwise supporting local businesses. To mark this month and this year’s theme, we are making space for Black health and wellness professionals local to our home in Edmonton! Know someone who is in need of some TLC this month? Recommend them to some of the businesses below!
Alberta Injury Management (Physiotherapy, Massage, Acupuncture, Dietitian, etc.)
Bridging The Gap – Young Black Doula
Restaurants & Foodstuffs
Food, particularly culturally-specific food, has inextricable ties to cultural awareness and belonging. It’s also probably the most delicious way to get to know your Black neighbours!
Jovic Bakery (Keto baked goods)
Vitaliteas Tea and Chai Blends
Community and connection are imperative to mental and spiritual wellness and health. These collectives provide communal space for Black creatives and business owners to grow their businesses and networks.
We would love to hear from you in the comments below about your favourite Black-owned businesses to add to our list.