Hello! I'm Jasmine Ward, Yolanda's daughter, Darryl's wife, mother to a host daughter and four young children. I'm a sister to seven amazing men and six awesome sisters! I love hard, have more friends than "they say" should be allowed. I believe in community because the community has always believed in me!
I'm also a professional, a proud public health professional to be exact! (I'm the founder and Executive Director of Black Ladies in Public Health.) In the field of public health, we strive to prevent disease, promote health, protect life, and position people (and their communities) to thrive. As you probably can tell from all the COVID19 briefings, we spend a lot of time collecting and using data to explain health. Even on our best days, the numbers are likely to the story of the disproportionate burden of illness and death experienced by the Black community. It is for this very reason that I value my personal experiences that support the realities of our resilience and the significance of cultural capital. The experiences that reflect the nuances of the numbers, the unique challenges, and will to persist despite of... For me, the numbers and my experiences converge to evokes feelings of familiarity, the stories of "strangers I know best".
In the case of COVID19, I recognized very early that it was happening within the space of my own dealings with grief, at a time when someone needed to heal. An inconvenient truth, it made healing, and the importance of taking time to deal with the things that hurt me, even more apparent. After losing several very close members of my family, I felt a deep connection and concern for all the people in my life that found themselves grieving in the midst of this pandemic, as a result of a pandemic.As I social distance, I realize the complexity of grief, which shows up even when we can't. The tenacity of love, which outpaces the ills of the world. Honestly, I see now more than ever, the critical role that each person, every family, all the friends, the community, and our culture plays in protecting collective health.
Despite everything, I'm hopeful. We possess the cumulative energy and will that has been fortified in moments of historical significance and strengthened on the frontlines of countless threats to our existence. Physical distance temporarily changes the way we engage in collective mourning, celebrations of life, and rituals of remembrance. Nonetheless, we mourn, we celebrate, we remember.
I hope to build a space that embraces the hearts of many. A space that honors the memory of those we've lost during COVID19 Pandemic. Memories that refocus our attention towards the impact of our people on the world... which far exceeds that of any illness. I say all this to say, there are other parts of our stories that the world should hear.