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DLSPH Prof. Setting the Stage for an MPH in Black Health

July 13/2021

By Françoise Makanda, Communications Officer at DLSPH

As one of her first tasks as DLSPH’s first Black Health Lead, Asst. Prof. Roberta Timothy is developing a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Black Health.

The two-year program will take approximately 18 months to develop.

“They didn’t include us in COVID-19,” says Timothy, “But we are going to include ourselves, our communities, and take our wellness back and initiate interventions that will support it.”

The program will revolutionize public health, says Timothy, and unearth important Black health experiences. “We’re talking about curriculum change and how to progress. We need Black communities and Black voices in this work. This program is going to be an example of how we do that. I am excited.”

The MPH will look at Black health and wellbeing, the impact of anti-racism on health, maternal health, the intersectionality of Black Elders and children, the relationship between these generations and its effect on community health.

Timothy would also like to explore chronic illnesses among Black people and their treatment within the healthcare system. The intersectional perspective is key as Black people are not homogeneous, an aspect she says is often overlooked in conversations about Black health.

“There are Black folks from working-class neighbourhoods, Black refugees, Black queer folks, Black people living with disabilities, Black Elders and Black children. We are really looking at the impact of health outcomes based on anti-Black racism and wellness for all these different people.”

Race is a salient factor for many Black people, says Timothy, but within the community, there are intersections that make the understanding of Black health needs more complex.

She hopes that the new curriculum can unearth what types of wellness systems are working in the Black community. There are opportunities to look at similarities and differences and extract learnings, adds Timothy. Resisting anti-Black racism helps to dismantle homogeneity.

Representing the health of all members of the Black community, however, is difficult but these tenuous conversations within one enclave of the Black community can help Black health move forward, she says.

Her target audience is primarily Black researchers and the next generation of Black health practitioners, but non-Black people will have the opportunity to take the program as well. “There’s a lack of Black students in public health. They’re not getting enough learning about Black health in the current curriculum. This is for us, for our communities and for folks who want to do solidarity work.”

The program comes at a time where race-based data confirms that Black people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Timothy hopes to garner enough funding to support practica, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers to build the program’s foundation. The work starts now, says Timothy.

“One program cannot do everything in dismantling anti-Black racism, but it can definitely challenge white supremacy, and create spaces for Black health growth and wellness. I hope that other programs are going to prop up as a result of ours. It’s a part of a larger legacy of Black resistance and Black health.”

Should you wish to contribute to this important future program, please contact Roberta Timothy or DLSPH’s advancement office.