“My entire transnational and transgenerational history and legacy as a descendant of enslaved Africans is one of constantly having to 'overcome'; 'come thru', and 'break apart/free'. I grew up in working class neighborhoods in Scarborough and was a part of a very vibrant anti-violence women's community and pan-African activist community from a very young age.
'Overcoming adversity' for me is something that is ongoing, challenging, sometimes rewarding, sometimes quite painful, and often requires a great deal of hard work and still might lead to ‘failure’ or unsuccessful results, usually directly related to factors such as anti-black racism, classism, sexism and other forms of intersectional violence. We must resist/fight against and create hope for our communities against adversity to exist and to provide hope for our futures; memories and guidance from our pasts, and survival and thrival in our present.
Black history month (BHM), which we also refer to as "African Liberation Month"(ALM) is a 365-day affair for myself and most African folks in Turtle island (Canada) and transnationally. BHM/ALM is political, it is a gathering for African/Black communities to share our stories, to collectively heal, to laugh and eat good food, see plays, and listen to amazing musicians and poets, read our children amazingly inspired Black writers; and to take a moment and breathe, and strategize how to unapologetically live, work, dream, and resist while being Black 365 days a year, in an anti-black racist world.
I am inspired everyday by African/Black women like my Mommy (how we affectionately call her and often used in African identified homes), who went back to university (York U) at age 40, after leaving school at age 9 and received a double honors degree in Women's Studies and Sociology, while actively working many jobs in various women abuse (domestic violence) shelters. She passed away at the age of 75 from a heart attack and various complications living with diabetes and kidney failure, and the impact of anti-black racism and other types of intersectional violence on her life is certain. Her fight and struggle to maintain healthy in a world that often did not see her health concerns as valid and her dedication as important, leads me to continue to fight for and research in the areas of anti-Black racism, anti-indigeneity and intersectional violence and their impacts on African/Black, Indigenous, racialized, and marginalized peoples and how they resist – fight to live a healthy/healthier life.
Her legacy and many more whose names may not be well known, inspire me to continue to engage in healing work and health research that creates real change and justice transnationally."
Professor Roberta Timothy
Global Health, Ethics and Human Rights
School of Health Policy & Management
Faculty of Health