Advancing Black Feminism In Public Health

Dr Quinn M. Gentry

By Dr. Quinn M. Gentry

Welcome to my blog on “Advancing Black Feminism in Public Health.” My goal is to move black feminism from the margins to the center of public health by applying 10 key principles as legitimate and comprehensive frameworks for adequately addressing health threats and related social and structural determinants of health in the lives of black women and girls.

Principle 10:

Pursue collective empowerment, activism, and social justice

In this vlog, I hope to inspire those working together towards equity as exemplified in principle no. 10 (of 10): Pursue Collective Empowerment, Activism, and Social Justice for advancing black feminism in public health. The rhetoric of “empowerment” permeates public health promotions and interventions. Black feminism builds upon this existing narrative with a standpoint on “collective empowerment”, where scholar/activists unite with diverse advocates and underprivileged groups of people to foster health equity.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Believe in the power of collective empowerment

1. Consciousness-raising

In the video below, I identify core elements of collective empowerment through an acronym for B.E.L.I.E.V.E. No matter your chosen public health cause or related social or structural injustice cause, when we come together to advocate, connect, and support the power of health equity, this African proverb sums up collective empowerment: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Believing in the power of collective empowerment serves as our public health blueprint for progress.

B. E. L. I. E. V. E.


  • Behavior


  • Empathy


  • Learn


  • Imagine


  • Eradicate


  • Value


  • Embrace

2. Complementary approaches

  • A collective impact framework is an excellent coordinating model for organizing diverse stakeholders with a common agenda and mutually aligned strategies, seeking to address public health problems and related social and structural determinants of health.  
  • Community organizing serves as an effective strategy for generating collective power on behalf of a powerless group experiencing systemic environmental injustice, resulting in a public health threat, such as water pollution, toxic waste dumps, or excessive advertisement of harmful products.
  • Social movements provide organizational structures and strategies aimed at empowering oppressed populations to be fully present in campaigns to confront structural determinants of health through social and political action.
  • Service-learning places students in community-generated service projects to strengthen their educational experience through real-world exposure to broader social, economic, and political contexts of health. By focusing on health disparities in context and in community, students came away with a sense of urgency and action to become scholar-activists.
  • A participatory democracy framework emphasizes broad-base grassroots participation in community organizing and social movements. This framework minimizes hierarchy, and instead, gives voice to marginalized movement participants via decision-making and leadership positions in addressing social and structural health issues.

3. Closing inspiration

"I believe that by embracing the spirit of collective empowerment, we are on a path to total victory, because the entire world is watching, as, every crisis is an opportunity to chip away more of the old structures, shake loose the lingering walls and lines of discriminatory demarcation, and thereby pave the way to build something new, something better."

Like what you read?

More by Dr. Quinn M. Gentry here.

Stay Connected with Dr. Quinn Gentry