SURVIVING THE IMPACT OF THE EXPERIENCE OF RACISM ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: AN EXPLORATION OF WOMEN OF AFRICAN ANCESTRY LIVING IN NOVA SCOTIA
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A paucity of research is available about the impact of racism on the health and well-being of women of African ancestry who are living in Nova Scotia. The purpose of this research was to contribute to that lacuna. This dissertation examines the perseverance and determination of women of African ancestry, living in Nova Scotia, who are surviving racism and the impact this has had on their health and well-being. The participants for this research were a subset of 20 women of African ancestry living in Nova Scotia, who had participated in qualitative interviews in the five-year Canadian Racism Violence and Health Project (2003-2008). This Project was a five-year action research study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Gender and Health. These women had been identified as leaders from the Health, Education, Justice, Faith and Social Services sectors. The 20 transcripts from this project that met the inclusion criteria were analyzed (secondary data) using Grounded Theory as a method of analysis, with Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Thought as the research lens. Critical Race Theory requires that racism is central to any research, and Black Feminist thought gives voice to the Black Women in this study and the role that gender may play in their experiences. The results showed that racism does impact the health and well-being of African Nova Scotian women as evidenced in the emergent story line of survival and analytical categories of surviving, silence, becoming aware, and restructuring self and the community. These categories told an important story mapping the past, the present, and an anticipated future. The women spoke of being treated as being invisible, being the subject of micro-aggressions, and becoming hyper-vigilant as a result of everyday racism. The counter-stories of the lived experiences of these 20 women are testimonies for others who are surviving racism. This research presents strategies for coping with everyday racism, and makes recommendations for health promotion policies and procedures that could be of benefit to other marginalized populations.