Black History Month: A Q&A with Jalina Booker

This year’s Black History Month highlights Black health and wellness, and the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, spoke to members of the SMHS community about the meaning and spirit behind this theme. In the third part of this series, Jalina Booker explains why prioritizing self-care is important, particularly in uncertain times.

What is your role at SMHS?

Booker: I am a diversity officer in the SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a process manager for the SMHS Anti-Racism Coalition.

What word or phrase would you use to describe the spirit of Black History Month for you?

Booker: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” —Barack Obama.

Why is it important for GW to recognize Black History Month?

Booker: Celebrating Black History Month at GW is important because the history and future of Black people and communities is important. Black students, staff, and faculty are a part of GW's legacy; I believe that highlighting and celebrating these stories is a step in the right direction for positive change across the university.

This year’s national Black History Month theme is Black health and wellness; why do you think this topic is important? How do you take care of your own health and wellness?

Booker: Black health and wellness are important topics because health and wellness issues, especially mental health, are often neglected in our communities. In a time when we are all wondering, “What’s going to happen next,” it is important to take time to check in with yourself to ensure you are nurturing your own needs and seeking help in any form.

Journaling has allowed me to express my feelings unapologetically and reflect and gain insight into myself and my growth areas. It truly has helped me work through difficult situations from my past and find peace and a lesson within them.

Why is it important to use Black History Month as a time to reflect, think, and celebrate Black history and culture?

Booker: Black History should always be celebrated, not just in February. We must celebrate Black History, especially in the circumstances we live in today, where anti-blackness still exists and remains pervasive. Black History Month should be used to challenge erasure, violence, and marginalization, while also celebrating the joy and beauty of Black heritage and culture. 

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