Presence//gifted: on Poetry, Antiracism, and Epistemic Violence in Health Promotion

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Health Promotion Practice

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Through poetry, I offer a critical reflection on the racialized contexts, consequences, and (mis)representations of overlapping pandemics—COVID-19 and structural racism—crafted as counternarrative to public health’s and medicine’s ahistorical, apolitical, and racist proclivities in times of crises (e.g., plague, 1918 flu, HIV/AIDS, addiction, racialized police violence). I weave public health and medical concepts together with Black music, poetry, scholarship, and history to (re)frame/analyze interconnections between COVID-19 and structural racism—centering love, resistance, and solidarity to counter Black erasure within the public health knowledge canon. I contextualize the poem/use of poetry as praxis in public health antiracism discourse through a brief essay, drawing from critical, critical race, and Black feminist theory to position poetry as a space of health equity testimony, and a mode of antiracist praxis to reclaim/center the margin as site of knowing and resistance. Specifically, I discuss testimonial quieting, testimonial smothering, and testimonial incompetence as critical concepts for health promotion scholars, practitioners, and students to engage as germane to interrogating our present knowledge production norms in regards to epistemic violence and its implications for prospects of antiracist public health futures. In doing so, I suggest that poetry can play a critical role in challenging, opening up, and reimagining discourse of antiracism for advancing health equity knowledge and action.


© 2022 Society for Public Health Education



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