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Davi: From Hiding to Hope

June 4, 2024

A person with loced hair against a Black background with rainbow spraypaint

Davi is passionate about respect for Black hair. “Since coming here, I’ve been on a journey locing my hair. Where I come from there’s a lot of hair discrimination, so I’ve loved learning about other Black people’s experiences with how they navigate the workplace with Black hair,” he says. “Jamaica was colonized by Britain, so colonialism has caused bias against Black hair even there! In Toronto I have the liberty to grow my hair, and also be employed.” 

Davi is a convention refugee from Jamaica who attends Black Health and Wellness Hub at The 519.

“Back home, homosexuality is illegal. You can go to prison. You can be killed for being gay, or for being suspected of being gay. The 519 Black Health and Wellness Hub is affirming of both my sexuality and my culture.” 

New refugees are often living at the intersection of many experiences. As they explore new freedoms, they may unfortunately meet new dynamics of prejudice, all while attempting to maintain a connection to their home culture. Davi finds Black Health and Wellness Hub helps him accomplish this. 

“It centres around your Blackness and those nuances that you don’t get to discuss every day. You realize your experiences are not that unique to you,” Davi says. “You also get to hear other people’s solutions; how they navigated and overcame those struggles.” 

Black Health and Wellness Hub fosters conversations on community health issues every month. As a newcomer from a tropical country, Davi found the session on Seasonal Affective Disorder particularly enlightening. “My mood changes when it gets dark at 3:30pm. It mixes me up and I get serious anxiety,” Davi says. “We reminded each other that it only lasts for a season. It will finish at some point. We talked about ways to distract ourselves from it, how to keep going.” 

“I’ve even learned a lot about the nuances of the sexual spectrum in Black Health and Wellness Hub. It’s new for us to get to have that conversation in a liberated way,” he says.

“At home we would only talk about sexuality in secret, and it would come from a place of fear and paranoia. Now we can talk about it from a place of bravery.” 

Davi says being in a country that’s safe for him with new resources to navigate issues in an affirming way has taken a huge burden off his life. “Back home, hiding this secret took over my whole life. Now I have room to make a better version of myself and get on the path to social functioning. I can talk about goals,” he says. 

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