As a doctoral student working with a community action coalition in East Baltimore, SPH alumna Jocelyn Smith Lee, Ph.D.’13, observed firsthand how Black boys and men struggled to navigate issues of trauma, violence, loss and healing. Those observations, which sparked more than a decade of community-engaged research and action to advance racial equity, are the root of her recent storytelling campaign: In All Ways Human. This innovative approach uses portraits and stories and local exhibits to challenge and change the harmful narratives surrounding Black boys, men and families. According to Smith Lee, the campaign is designed “to address racial dehumanization” and “gets at a root cause of the health disparities of homicide, traumatic loss, and grief.”
“I love my son so much and just want him to be safe, and have the opportunity to be a child”
Now, ten years later, she says that she is “most proud of the relationships formed and maintained for over a decade with the participants and staff in East Baltimore.” As a doctoral researcher, she “promised that the voices and stories of the young men she worked with would always be centered in their work and be amplified. This campaign and its forthcoming documentary are a reflection of that promise.”
Jamal, a father featured in the campaign, says “I love my son so much and just want him to be safe, and have the opportunity to be a child.” A parent’s desire for their children’s safety and happiness is universal to us all.
“Black boys, men, and families are always and in all ways human”
“We want to spread the simple and profound truth that Black boys, men, and families are always and in all ways human,” Dr. Smith Lee said in a recent UNCG publication. “Whether a toddler, like my daughter, or young adult, or young at heart, whether college educated or GED-pursuing, community leader or celebrity, we are deserving of dignity, safety, care, and opportunity.” When speaking about the future, she says that she is “so hopeful that our collective efforts will translate into improved health, well-being, and enhanced quality of life for the men in this project, the surrounding community, and be a pilot for what is possible, nationally.”
For more information on this amazing work, visit the website or find them on Twitter and Instagram @inallwayshuman.
- Some Good News