Reflections on our Bakari Sellers Q&A
As we watch the world react to the call of racial justice, the end of police brutality and for the accountability of those responsible for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aburey and so many more, I had the opportunity to interview Bakari Sellars on his new book, “My Vanishing Country.” This book is more than a memoir about his life, it’s an ode to the rural Black South and a call to continue to fight for the racial injustices that plague our world.
Reading Bakari’s book caused me to correlate so many of my own experiences growing up Black and in the South to his. We are almost the same age and while I’m from just one state over, I see how much these experiences have shaped my world view. While I only graduated from high school in 2001, in Georgia there were still places that held segregated proms and had segregated superlatives in the yearbook. I took note how many times I drive past a Confederate Memorial statue, or through a county named after a Confederate leader. I also took note of how being Southern and Black is also so powerful in how we are brought up to support family and community. Rural communities have lost more than jobs and hospitals, they have also lost some of their voice. The voice where you were proud to be Black and from the rural South.
Here at Fact Forward we want to ensure the that all young people have the opportunity to thrive. We as adults must create space for them to have conversations not only about love, sex and relationships, but also about the impact of systemic racism on society. We as professionals working with young people must commit to doing the work that will guide them to take the mantel in expressing themselves and standing up for injustice.
Listening to Baraki talk about his upbringing as a child of an activist in the Civil Rights movement, it rings true that everyone has part to play in the movement. If we want to impact public health issues such as soaring STD/ HIV rates, Black maternal health and racism we must work collectively to address these health disparities.
Bakari is committed to leaving a legacy for his children and the world where Black people can thrive without racism and have equal opportunity. I can only hope that through my work at Fact Forward, I can leave my own legacy not only on the public health field but also in lives of others I have impacted as well. Listen to our talk, read his book and don’t forget to take action.
Rena Dixon, PhD, MPH, MCHES
Director of Health Services