Words by Fatima Lee Garsi
Photography by James Ip
I am pleased to introduce you to Dr. Fatimah Jackson-Best!
Fatimah Jackson-Best is indeed the best! This is a lady who is the real deal; there’s something about FJB (I hope she doesn’t mind the acronym!) that is real nice. This is someone who doesn’t waste her time, someone who knows what she wants to do, and does every action deliberately and with direction and thoughtfulness.
When you’re in the presence of FJB, you feel something special: she exudes a deep confidence that people go searching for their whole lives. It’s her very humble and grounded energy that makes you reflect on why you’re not more like her. I believe this confidence is rooted in her identity and the work that she does.
What I Learned:
The Black Community and Public Health
Well in short, Dr. FJB is a superstar both in the Muslim community and the world of public health. She is a public health researcher and consultant who specializes in mental health in Black communities in Canada and Barbados. She is a member of the Black Health Alliance and is a Project Manager with Pathways to Care.
She has produced work researching Black Muslims in Canada and the importance of hearing their experiences and understanding their history. Ninety-five percent of research pertaining to public health information about Black Muslims in Canada is focussed on the Somali community. Dr. FJB’s research fills an important gap by focusing on other Black communities, particularly the Caribbean community.
Connection to Identity and the Work You Do
Dr. FJB mentions the importance of personal connection to her research:
“I am a firm believer in people doing research that is close to their identities and that they can understand. I think that it definitely brings a certain amount of nuance and understanding that is not necessarily possible for people from outside communities.”
I am struck by the importance of human connection and identity when gathering research from communities that can be sensitive to talk about due to stigma. A shared identity fosters a bond of trust that allows quality and much needed research to emerge.
Here is Dr. FJB in a TedTalk in Barbados speaking on maternal depression and stigma: