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dr. reelaviolette's first year in review



In her first year as an inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow with the UCSF REPAIR project, dr. reelaviolette botts-ward developed radical Black feminist healing arts projects that transformed healthcare and medical science spaces within and beyond UCSF. As the lead for REPAIR’s Curriculum and Outreach committees, ree created The UCSF REPAIR Communiversity Certificate Program, curated the #blackgirlquarantine exhibition series, and launched a quarterly wellness program in partnership with the National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health. She has published and presented this work across the country, mentored graduate and medical students across departments, and received numerous grants and awards for her accomplishments. Through her research, teaching, and institutional service, ree has expanded the ways we think about medical reparations, medical abolition, and decolonization in the health sciences, and enhanced the scope of our work to ensure that the most marginalized communities have increased access to healing. 


Since October 2022, ree’s work has spanned across fifteen different departments, initiatives, and programs across the UCSF campus, and the UC system. She has also cultivated nearly twenty new community partnerships and sponsorships with local and national organizations, including the California Black Women’s Health Project, the San Francisco Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente Thrive. Across projects, her work has impacted nearly 1,500 people in this year alone, and offered over one hundred and fifty Black women healers, artists, scholars and practitioners a platform to expand their work to national audiences (twenty five of whom have been invited as paid guest speakers, performers, and presenters). She secured over $40,000 from donors like the UC Berkeley Center for Social Medicine and The Oakland Fund for Public Innovation to support this work.

The UCSF REPAIR Communiversity Certificate Program 


The UCSF REPAIR Communiversity Certificate Program offers free UCSF certificates to its students, and invites folks from the community and folks from the university to learn alongside each other within a graduate course. This year’s Communiversity course, entitled “#BlackFeministHealingArts: Radical Black Feminist Approaches to Integrative Health and Healing” (ANTHRO 225), was taught virtually within the Medical Anthropology Program, featured a teach-in series that was open to the public, and averaged 75 attendees per week. Black feminist writers, healers, artists and practitioners were invited as healthcare experts to share new knowledge about unconventional approaches to wellness. Topics ranged from reiki, diasporic dance, and musical arts to African spirituality, communal care and intergenerational healing. Each recording was uploaded to REPAIR’s virtual hub to continue ongoing dialogue (to view, click here). 171 surveys collected from teach-in series participants echoed, “I received so much from this space.. my soul was so nourished.. this was healing.. thank you for your empowerment [and] resources.. for reminding me of the wellness and life we deserve.. for sharing your stories.. I have connected to each of them and they have affirmed my own work in community health care.” 


After each panel, students had dedicated time to engage in embodied and collective processing in smaller affinity group settings with trained affinity group facilitators, who were trained within ree’s #BlackFeministHealingArts Facilitator’s Training Course (ANTHRO 249). These spaces were designed to allow for deepened reflection on how the intersection of our race, gender, and sexuality might impact our relationship to various healing modalities. At the end of the quarter, students were invited to publish their final projects with UCSF REPAIR’s digital humanities hub inspired by their weekly processing (to view, click here). By the end of the course, 75 certificates were given to participants and students from twelve states across the country, majority of whom identify as members of marginalized communities. Students’ evaluations echoed, “Each Communiversity session, the teach-ins and the course sessions have been so transformational. The affinity groups and the class itself.. [was] enriching, fulfilling, [and] immensely nourishing.. [it allowed for] co-regulating with other Black women and non-Black women of color in a space that felt safe.. [it] helped to return me to my own body, [and] draw my spirit back into me.. all [of] these womxn are healers and impacting the world in their own way.. [we] experience[d] a decolonized healing space, where our offerings came in many forms and were transformed into medicine..”

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(two students from Communiversity course)

The #blackgirlquarantine Exhibition 


The course’s accompanying exhibition series, entitled the blackwomxnhealing reunion exhibition series, featured an in-person installation of the #blackgirlquarantine exhibit, a showcase of 100+ artworks by Black women across the country on how their multimedia healing arts supported their wellness through the pandemic. This series consisted of three in-person gatherings - a pop-up exhibition and artist talk at the Museum of the African Diaspora, an Opening Night at Agency Oakland, and a free day-long healing retreat for the nourishment and restoration of Black women of all ages. Harpists, sound bowl healers, and pianists were invited to share how sonic healing arts support the well-being of marginalized communities. Dancers and DJs invited participants into movement as a tool for healing arts. Twenty Black women owned healing centered businesses offered healing goods to support ongoing wellness rituals beyond the space. And visual, virtual, and multimedia art was created and displayed within the space, from crochet and collage stations to a collective painting project led by Sacred Paintbrush. 


Each event was sold out, and totaled over 650 registered attendees across the entire series. Attendee feedback echoed, “I immediately felt emotionally safe and protected entering the space and left feeling super duper motivated to continue  on this journey.. (@chrysallislab).; The softness, the space for creative expression and play, the welcoming of all the parts of ourselves.. the music.. the offerings.. [It all aided me in] remembering the power and permission we have to allow ourselves as black women to be as multifaceted as we need to be to thrive (@sacredpaintbrush).; The energy and care that was poured into lifting up and appreciating black womxn.. This kind of community-led empowerment and healing work is so important on so many levels.. The energy in that space was so comforting (@lenakrystyna).; [I am] feeling so loved and in community right now. Thank you for creating this space..  So much joy in seeing Black femmes of all ages and stages in life. It makes me look forward to aging! (notecard reflection from healing circle participant)”

Additional Institutional Service at UCSF


ree also launched a quarterly wellness program, called the blackwomxnhealing circle, for Black women patients, residents, staff, faculty, and students across the UCSF community. In partnership with the National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health, the Black Wellness Center, and the Black Women’s Health and Livelihood Initiative, this series provides non-hierarchical encounters among members of different ranks at the university and breaks down barriers between the university and the community. It also expands access to healthcare resources for marginalized communities, increases the retention of UCSF’s Black women employees by enhancing a sense of belonging, and welcomes new opportunities for collective healing and communal well-being. This fall, ree will lead the California Black Women’s Health Project’s Mental Health Advocacy Training Program at the UCSF Black Wellness Center, where she will expand this wellness program model by inviting community members to targeted learning experiences on behavioral health, social determinants of health, and collective healing.


ree was invited by the Osher Center to serve as a mentor for the Integrative Health Equity & Applied Research program, where medical students and graduate students across the country engage in research projects that explore holistic health approaches for marginalized communities. Here, she works with a UCSF medical student (Eushavia Bogan) and a UNC Greensboro public health PhD student (Elondra Harr) on developing new theoretical and methodological approaches for their research. She was also invited to serve as a guest lecturer for the program’s summer cohort.


ree has supported the REPAIR Transition Plan Project Core Team in developing a strategic plan for expanding The REPAIR Project from a three year initiative to a sustainable anti-racism hub within the institution. She has also supported the National REPAIR Network, a collective of universities committed to broadening the reach of REPAIR. Thus far, the network consists of UCSF, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Kansas.


Publications, Presentations, Grants & Awards


ree has been invited to share her work across campus at UCSF with the ODO IDEAL Academy, the OB/GYN & RS Research Community, the Black Wellness Clinic’s Radical Healing Series, and EMBRACE: Perinatal Care for Black Families, among others. She has also been invited to share her work at academic and community institutions across the country, from local universities like Stanford and Berkeley to nationally renowned centers and institutions like the American Physician Scientists Association and the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans. ree was invited to present curating #blackgirlquarantine, her recent article published with Medical Anthropology Quarterly, at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting. More recently, she received the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Social Issues’ Yamashita Prize and the University of California Humanities Research Institute Award alongside Drs. Adeola Oni-Orisan and Ugo Edu to continue this work. 

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