Because She Cares

Initiative Summary

The work involvement of African, Caribbean and Black Women living with HIV (ACBWH) within Canadian AIDS Service organizations (ASOs) realizes their rights of greater involvement and serves as multi-faceted practices of caring work. Intersecting systems of oppression can detrimentally affect health and differently shape ACBWHs experiences of ASO employment as (un)caring work.

Because She Cares is a multi-phased integrated knowledge translation and mobilization (IKTM) project that uses performance-based methods to generate conversation, reflection and action on ASO employment and intersecting systems of oppression faced by ACBWHs. The project evolved from a qualitative study exploring ACBWH experiences of AASO employment that was poetically retold as a spoken word play. Funded by REACH, we aim to take the play across Ontario and host post-performance dialogues (i.e., Kitchen Table Talks) to generate discussions on AASO employment, HIV and intersecting stigmas as experienced by ACBWH. Grant funding includes a research component where we will explore the catalytic impact of the play and evaluate its effectiveness in enhancing awareness and engaging changing-making dialogue on AASO employment for ACB immigrant women living with HIV.

Initiative Objectives and Goals

Because She Cares is a culturally responsive, creative approach to knowledge mobilization that is centred on the lived experience of ACBWH. These knowledge mobilization methods could benefit ACBW and other people living with HIV (PLHIV) who work in the Canadian HIV-response as well as ASOs who employ them. The play’s themes illuminate issues around assuring the care and well-being of ACBWH employees that could resonate with other PLHIV populations, including racialized women, immigrant PLHIVs and ACBWHs. The performance methodology contributes to a growing body of participatory arts-based IKTM developed for HIV research. Educational tools developed from this project could also be integrated into curricula where HIV and employment, or community-based research is a component of the course (e.g., social work, community health, public health, nursing etc.).

The Role of this Initiative to End the HIV Epidemic

An immediate goal of the Because She Cares project is to use performance and poetic arts for germinating conversations and strategizing the next steps for addressing the care needs of ACB immigrant women living with HIV who are employed in Canadian AASOs. We hope that our project will diffuse the boundaries between social sciences and the arts; instead, we recommend using culturally responsive arts-informed methods that allow research findings to be danced, acted, sung or played out.

Meaningful engagement with people with lived experience

Because She Cares Project is a community-academic collaboration led by ACB community members and allies who work in AIDS service and allied organizations (AASOs) in Ontario. The play was developed in collaboration with the original study participants (the “Narrators”). ACB community members and allies, all of whom have worked in AASOs, have been trained as performers.

Key performance indicators

Primary target audience

ACBWH (African, Caribbean and Black Women living with HIV) within Canadian AIDS service organizations (clients and employees); ACB and non-ACB ASO employees

Secondary target audience

Health service practitioners who support the Canadian HIV response or who hire ACBWH (social work, community health, public health, nursing)

Start Date
September 1, 2020
-
August 2021
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Strategic marketing and support tactics

Website, Social networks, Print pieces, Distribution of Poetry Anthology; Postcard Campaign

RESULTS

So far in 2020, we have performed the play and kitchen table talks at two Ontario AASOs amongst 51 audience members who identified as peers (i.e., ACBWH clients and employees) or allies (e.g., ACB and non-ACB employers and employees). Audience members welcomed the use of performance to translate the lived experiences of ACBWH-employees. ACBWH participants appreciated how the play "celebrated" the resilience of ACB immigrant women living with HIV despite the challenges of their work; they specified elements of the play that illustrated their own lived experiences of anti-Black racism, sexism, and HIV-stigma. AASO allied participants developed a more empathetic understanding of microaggressions and intersecting oppressions, including those institutionalized within AASO workplaces. For many participants, the kitchen table talks became a "freedom area" to discuss some of the opportunities and tensions of working in AASOs as racialized immigrant women who are living with HIV. Participants recommended delivering Because She Cares to more Ontario AASOs to generate greater awareness and critical reflection of intersecting forms of oppression, particularly anti-Black racism within AASO workplaces.

Results

So far in 2020, we have performed the play and kitchen table talks at two Ontario AASOs amongst 51 audience members who identified as peers (i.e., ACBWH clients and employees) or allies (e.g., ACB and non-ACB employers and employees). Audience members welcomed the use of performance to translate the lived experiences of ACBWH-employees. ACBWH participants appreciated how the play "celebrated" the resilience of ACB immigrant women living with HIV despite the challenges of their work; they specified elements of the play that illustrated their own lived experiences of anti-Black racism, sexism, and HIV-stigma. AASO allied participants developed a more empathetic understanding of microaggressions and intersecting oppressions, including those institutionalized within AASO workplaces. For many participants, the kitchen table talks became a "freedom area" to discuss some of the opportunities and tensions of working in AASOs as racialized immigrant women who are living with HIV. Participants recommended delivering Because She Cares to more Ontario AASOs to generate greater awareness and critical reflection of intersecting forms of oppression, particularly anti-Black racism within AASO workplaces.

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Challenges

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