Black History Month:
I come as one, but stand as 10,000.Maya Angelou
Berkeley Public Health (BPH): What pronouns do you use?
Brittany Campbell: She/her/hers.
BPH: What is your role here at Berkeley Public Health?
Campbell: I am a scholar in the Doctor of Public Health program. I also serve in the role of community member, holding memberships to several communities across geographies. I am here to shed light on the deep-rooted, complex social issues that impact our health. My role is to be open to new experiences and ways of knowing (perspectives). Most importantly, I am here to honor my ancestors. I am here to offer a perspective that merges my knowledge, wisdom, and lived experience with the intent to inform interventions, programs, and policies that center resilience, joy, and community gifts (assets).
BPH: What does Black History Month mean to you?
Campbell: Black History Month is a time to focus on the roots, flowers, and seeds. To me, the roots represent the past. I honor my roots by honoring my ancestors and remembering stories of resilience and community organizing. I do this while holding my hometown (St. Louis) close to my heart. Flowers represent what’s blooming now. Flowers remind me to practice gratitude in the present. I thank my ancestors for creating opportunities where there was no clear path. I thank my community for embodying love through fearless compassion and the extension of grace. I practice gratitude for the intersection where my faith meets courage, moving me through my journey in the world. Seeds represent what’s to come, the future. This focus requires intentionality. Creating a just future requires imagination skills, hope, steadfast faith, and an eagerness for change. I use Black History month (and quite honestly, every month) to honor my past, appreciate the present, imagine a more just society, and act in a way that is aligned with personal and collective goals.
BPH: How do you think UC Berkeley can amplify the voices of our Black community members?
Campbell: I have been impressed by the intention throughout BPH to center the voice of Black community members and look forward to the dissemination and adoption of these practices to the wider campus. For further amplification, I believe there should be an assessment, a phase for adjusting, and a phase for integration or amplifying voices. These steps are not linear, rather this is a cycle where UC Berkeley goes through these phases based on the need at the time.
- Be mindful of who is (or is not) in the room and how people show up in the space. When we are in a growth phase we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. A learning spirit, compassionate heart, and open mind can help during this time.
- Conduct an assessment of the scholars we are centering in course materials, meetings, and conferences. Cite and showcase the work of Black community members in course lectures, homework (podcasts, YouTube, etc.), and syllabi. Reflect: What is the racial/gender/ability status/ethnicity/etc. breakdown of the authors? Are there voices and perspectives we are unintentionally silencing?
- Genuinely connect with community members to understand their wants, needs, and desires.
Use data to inform action. For insight on how to adjust, make sure Black community members are involved in the process from design to dissemination and create a space where their perspectives are honored and respected.
Amplify the work of community members with different skills, backgrounds, and positions within the institution—all perspectives are important. Showcase more of their work on the podcast Berkeley Talks, in announcements, and on non-traditional platforms that might reach a broader audience (e.g., YouTube).
Photo illustration by Fernando Augusto