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Health Promotion Practice

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The adult spine, aka backbone, is composed of 24 segments. Separately, each segment is incapable of animating our bodies. Communities of color, low-income communities, and other marginalized groups represent the backbone of the health equity research enterprise-it literally cannot exist without our bodies and what they are subjected to in the face of structural inequality. And more often than not, researchers believe they can break our bodies into discrete segments and somehow animate a body of literature capable of healing a whole us. This poem, as counternarrative and enactment of public health critical race praxis principles of "voice" and "disciplinary self-critique", engages the spine as metaphor to name and render visible the epistemic and symbolic violences that prop up public health's body of evidence/knowledge. In doing so, it challenges the field's dominant knowledge production paradigm (e.g. positivist reductionism), and draws attention to the settlercolonial, racial-capitalist, and extractivist logics of racial and health equity discourses dominated by narratives produced by mostly White scholars and "health equity tourists", often using complex statistical techniques to complete secondary quantitative analyses about health in communities they've never stepped a single foot in. Under this paradigm, scores of researchers/practitioners are led to believe that they can somehow come to "know" us via variables and models alone. This poem suggests that-more than anything else-this model of practice is what's most in need of adjustment, and warrants a greater degree of ethical scrutiny than historically/presently afforded. To view the original version of this poem, see the supplemental material section of this article online.


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