• Councillor Mark Grimes

City releases new “Black Bodies” video as part of Toronto Voices vaccine engagement series

The City of Toronto launched “Black Bodies,” the newest feature in the Toronto Voices vaccine engagement video series. “Black Bodies” profiles Dr. Akwatu Khenti, Chair of the City’s Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, who shares a personal message about COVID-19 vaccination with Toronto’s Black community.

In the powerful four-minute feature, Dr. Khenti provides context behind vaccine mistrust and hesitation amongst Black communities, referencing the historical exploitation of Black bodies and ongoing stigmatization faced by Black communities. Dr. Khenti sheds light on the correlation between over-exposure to COVID-19 risks alongside under-protection from severe illness, explaining the urgent need for vaccination uptake with sincerity, compassion and respect.

COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionately high impact on Toronto’s Black and other racialized communities. The Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity was created in December 2020, in partnership with the TAIBU Community Health Centre, as part of the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan to address Black community concerns and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, testing and vaccines. It is one of the approaches being used to communicate, mobilize and engage communities most affected by the pandemic in order to address systemic inequities.

Toronto Voices is a series of videos featuring personal stories of Toronto residents, community-based insights and vaccine information and resources. Created for the community, by the community, the City worked with talent from its ArtWorksTO program which provides opportunities for youth media artists (ages 18 to 29) who are Indigenous, Black and People of Colour and/or 2SLGBTQ+ to gain professional experience, skills and network in the media arts industry. Serville Poblette of Slow Drip Studio, an alumnus of the program, was awarded the producer role for the series.