Author: Brianna Forgione

The Ninth Amendment

The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses rights, retained by the people, that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights. In other words, the ninth amendment is also known as the “silent amendment” due to the fact that it is rarely acknowledged by the supreme court. The ninth amendment bears directly on things like abortion, the right to die, gay rights, and privacy. The founding fathers did not believe that they were creating these liberties in the Bill of Rights, instead they were acknowledging the rights that no government could deny. The ninth amendment also deals with privacy. Basically, this amendment protects one’s natural born rights that no one can take away from them. Natural rights are rights that people supposedly have under natural law. The Declaration of Independence of the United States lists life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as natural rights. I believe that this amendment is extremely important to society because it aids to our freedom and helps to better the nation as a whole.

This connects to the book Zulus by Pervical Everett. Although Zulus was set in a dystopian society, the people of the community were stripped of this amendment. All members of this society were required to be sterilized. The only person who was not was the protagonist, Alice Achitophel. However, Alice still managed to be violated of her basic human right of consent. Alice was raped by a mysterious man and when she was, she became pregnant. The mood of the entire community shifted when they decided that they wanted to take the baby away from Alice. This backfired due to the fact that Alice was never actually pregnant with a child after all. Alice ran off and essentially killed the entire society as a result of the violation of her basic rights. It is important to respect the rights of other humans as it can cause mass hysteria.

Gender Binary

In the beginning of the semester, we were asked to identify the pronouns we prefer to be used when being referred to in class. It came to my attention that not enough teachers put their students preferred gender into consideration. Gender has evolved throughout history and is no longer black and white.

 

Across different religions and various societies, the subject of gender binary is interpreted through various lens. Gender binary is the social construction of gender in most societies in the world where gender is a contrast between male and female. Male and female gender expectations, roles, and functions are very specific. The presence of alternate genders is ignored, or made oblivious. Health, body, sexualities, education, family, work, money and law are the more predominant subtexts in culture that aid in defining gender roles. As a society, we must begin to break the stereotypes and educate one another on what the gender binary is how to conquer its strict canon.

 

Cultures throughout the world partake in the specific separation of the idea of only two genders. Throughout the past, gender has been seen as having only two spectrums, male and female. But as a society we are slowly adapting to the idea of the existence of more than two genders. Currently there are up to 58 ways to classify one’s gender. An example of modern day society adjusting to the shift in more than two genders is, Facebook allowing their users to customize their gender along with allowing their users to select from three different pronouns, “her”, “him”, and “their”. Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison told the Associated Press. Harrison, who worked on the project, is in the process of gender transition, from male to female, “there’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world”. With this slight adjustment, it helps humanity be more aware of the fact that more than two genders can exist. Another modern-day example of the slow modification of the belief of more than two genders is the creation of gender neutral bathrooms. Although gender neutral bathrooms exist, society did not react as positively as planned. Howard Blume writes in his article, “anyone looking for confirmation of the nation’s cultural divide can add education and gender-neutral bathrooms to the list of proof points. North Carolina sparked a national furor by requiring transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, citing risks to children in schools as a primary justification”. Gender neutral bathrooms are simply open to all genders to make the user more comfortable without putting stress on other users. Gender separation is a major factor to the constant assumption of only two genders. However, certain college campuses are taking a stand on banning gender separation. Freya Preimesberger states in her article, “Harvard instated a ban on all gender-segregated groups such as fraternities, sororities and single-gender clubs. UT research shows that this ban is well-founded — separation by gender is detrimental to students”. Gender separation in various cases can have its benefits along with its non-benefits. Society as a whole can work together to try and rid the idea of the existence of only two genders.

Human Rights

After reading this article titled, UN poverty official touring Alabama’s Black Belt: ‘I haven’t seen this’ in the First World, I was brought to the focus on human rights. The United Nations describes human rights as, “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.” The article on hookworm and sewage discusses the problem of contaminated water caused by sewage disposal. “‘I think it’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this,’ Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.” The article then later on discussed that it is a basic human right for people to live decently. “‘There is a human right for people to live decently, and that means the government has an obligation to provide people with the essentials of life, which include power, water and sewage service,’ Alston said.”

The comments made by Alston connected me to the book, Zulus by Percival Everett. In Zulus, Alice Achitophel was stripped of her basic human rights. When the government was informed that she was carrying a baby, they wanted to take the baby away from Alice. This is a violation of multiple human rights. In specific, Alice was discriminated against due to her weight. She was overweight which was looked upon as taboo and she was treated as if she was of a lower social class. Alice was also held hostage due to her pregnancy, which is another violation of basic human rights. In Zulus, all the citizens in the communities were automatically violated when the government forced them to be sterile. Basic human rights are not something to be messing around with and can result in serious consequences when breached.

Unintentional Ignorance

On September 30th I attended a lecture given by author and climate activist Bill McKibben. In his lecture, he was informative and passionate about what he stood for and what he is trying to accomplish in his goal. One project he founded was the 350 mission. 350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 350’s network extends to 188 countries. This mission stood out to me because in today’s society it is difficult to bring different countries together in efforts to reach one goal. Bill McKibben also discussed that climate change is dangerous to our health. Breathing in the toxins in the air can lead to serious health issues later on in life. This correlates to our in-class discussion of medicine and how so many people are unaware of the possible health issues caused by climate change. I personally was unaware of how dangerous climate change can truly be on one’s health.

This bring up the discussion of unintentional ignorance. Unintentional ignorance can relate to the topic of medical volunteerism. Medical volunteerism can be explained as health-care providers volunteer annually for short-term medical service trips. However, these “health-care providers” aren’t actually health care providers at all. They tend to be uncertified undergrad students that lack basic medical training. These students cause more harm than good due to their unintentional ignorance of believing that they are helping these communities. These students believe that it looks beneficial on their resume and will increase their chances of getting a job in the future. But the matter of fact is that these students never stick around long enough to face the outcome of these communities. Unintentional ignorance can create detrimental issues if not addressed.

Cultivating Community

Yesterday I attended a poetry reading by Christopher Soto. Soto is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). Soto read a few original poems and other poems produced by other poets as well. Throughout this experience, all of the poems shared a common theme. There was a shared theme of inclusivity within the poems. Each poem covered serious issues, such as mass imprisonment, sex slavery, and racism. One writing technique I gained from attending this poetry reading is call and response. Soto read a poem aloud and when he raised his hand, the audience replied with the same response. I found this to be effective in accomplishing the message of the poem. The poem was in regards to mass imprisonment. The poem also contained the technique of repetition. Repetition stands out to the reader in that it makes the piece memorable and quotable. Christopher Soto is an incredibly talented writer that touches upon economic, racial, and social issues throughout society.

Some of Soto’s work brought me back to Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson. Throughout the book the reader is brought through the life of Fortune and his endeavors. After Fortune died, Fortune’s bones were placed in a museum to be put on display. This was done without consent. During some of Soto’s readings, there was an instance of lack of consent when a female writer wrote about being raped and beaten in prison against her will. The other topic discussed in yesterday’s poetry reading that brought me back to Fortune’s Bones is racism. Soto opened up the discussion with self identity. Every person in the room had their own identity, but unlike Fortune, he was merely classified as bones in a museum. Fortune was more than that, he contained an identity just like everyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s discussion and thought it was informative and pushed students to think creatively and productively.

The Importance in Vocabulary

Being an English major on the creative writing track, as a writer we are forced to stray away from cliches and to transform any abstract thoughts or words into concrete words. Abstract words are words that do not trigger the five senses. This means that every word we put into our writing is carefully selected and carries a lot of weight in its meaning. This relates to the book Zone One by Colson Whitehead. Colson Whitehead’s language use is specific and forces the reader to “navigate” through this sci-fi world. Every word in this book has a meaning. According to this website, the use of these specific keywords enable the writer to quickly and effectively communicate their meaning. Whitehead’s meaning of Zone One is to portray that his world is far from the ordinary.

Vocabulary is not only important to the writer, but it is important to the reader as well. Comprehension of vocabulary is crucial in achieving the main goal of reading which is understanding. According to Scholastic, “Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.” It is critical that the writer effectively translates his or her ideas for the reader to understand. Whitehead effectively carries out these tasks in Zone One creating a diverse and alternate universe for readers to embark in.

Consent

Throughout the book Clays Arc there has been a reoccurring theme of a lack of consent. Consent is the permission from both parties for something to happen or an agreement to do something. The characters in Clays Arc, Blake, Keira, and Rane, have been taken away from their homes without their consent, and have been forced to live in hiding. While living in these homes they have come into contact with a deadly disease that has been spread onto them yet again without their consent.

Consent is black and white. Unfortunately the struggle of consent has been prominent for decades. One major topic relating to lack of consent is medical experimentation on slaves. Although slavery no longer exists, the repercussions are still relevant today. According to this Daily News New York article, protesters demanded a removal of  a Central Park statue of 19th century doctor who experimented on slave women. The doctor’s name was J Marion Sims.  The article writes, “Sims, a South Carolina native, is considered by some to be the ‘father of modern gynecology.’ He developed a surgery to treat a tear women sometimes suffer after childbirth and founded the first hospital designed specifically for women in 1855. But Sims honed his craft in the 19th century by carrying out a series of experimental operations on African-American slave women — without using anesthesia.” Although Sims may have thought he was helping these women, he did not take into consideration the unethical work he was committing. Consent is not something to take lightly. It occurs daily whether it be intentional or not. I believe it is important for students to be informed about the topic of consent to help diminish possible problems in the future.

Misdiagnosed

Each year in the U.S., approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed” according to a CBS News article. How is it possible that 12 million people are so easily misdiagnosed I think to myself but then I remember that I too have been misdiagnosed, even more than once.

 

A medical misdiagnosis is anything that a certified doctor diagnoses their patient with, but it ending up being incorrect. This is extremely dangerous because it can possibly harm the patient. In today’s society doctors visits tend to be rather rushed which is a factor in the possibility of being misdiagnosed. The CBS article discusses the possible ways a patient can help diminish the possibility of being misdiagnosed such as following up after one’s appointment because, “You can’t assume that if you don’t hear anything it’s good news…no news is not necessarily good news.” I do agree that no news isn’t necessarily a good thing but I believe that it is the responsibility of the doctor to inform their patient if there is in fact a diagnosis. As a patient, we pay copious amounts of money to be seen by these doctors so I believe it’s only fair to receive accurate results.

 

Medical misdiagnosis can connect to the book Zulus by Percival Everett. The protagonist Alice Achitophel was seen by a few doctors due to her mysterious pregnancy and the doctors made comments such as, “She’s intact, it seems.” and “Then she might well be pregnant.” Therefore the doctors were not entirely sure on whether or not Alice was actually pregnant or not because of their lack of experience.

 

I personally have had misdiagnoses throughout my life. I was told by my doctor at age 12 that I did not have scoliosis when I in fact did have scoliosis. I later on had to return to the doctors for x-rays and MRI’s to confirm how severe my scoliosis truly is. Unfortunately misdiagnoses are extremely common in today’s society.

Here Stands A Man

In Tony Morrison’s Home, he creates a connection in the beginning of his book to the end of his book. In the beginning of the book Morrison writes, “They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men.” (Pg. 5). This was in reference to the horses that Frank spotted after him and his sister Cee witnessed the burial of a man. Morrison later on connects that quote by writing, “Here Stands A Man.” (Pg 145). This was in reference to Frank and Cee reburying the body of the man from the start of the book. I found this quote to be ironic because the man they buried is clearly not standing for he is dead. The simile made in the beginning of the novel is symbolic in many ways. Horses are known to be strong, majestic creatures. I decided to do research on the symbolic meaning of claiming a horse as a spirit animal. I discovered that a horse is symbolic for war, service to others, fertility, and power of mind, body and spirit. Each of these symbols are reoccurring themes that are presented in the book Home.

 

War is represented in that Frank served in the army and fought in the war. During the war Frank felt as if he was alive.

 

Service to others was present in that Frank has witnessed various deaths of his friends in war, such as his friend Mike and Stuff. When Frank discovered that Cee was in danger, he feared that he would not be able to save Cee as well. Frank was the saving grace in Cee’s childhood. He loved and protected her when all the adults were either too busy or too bitter to care. But he protected her so well that she never learned to take care of herself.

 

Fertility was evident after Cee being unable to bare a child. Although it is the opposite of being fertile, this part in the book was critical in further developing Cee’s character. Cee had to come to terms with being unable to get pregnant. She later picked up making quilts. Frank convinces Cee to use her first quilt in aiding in the burial of the unnamed man. I interpreted them burying Cee’s first quilt as putting the past behind them and beginning a new life.

 

Power of mind, body and spirit was distinguished through Frank’s PTSD. In the book Frank is faced with the difficult decision of letting a little Korean girl live with the pain of being mentally and physically abused or killing her. Frank chose to kill her because not only is it saving her from the traumatizing experience, it is saving Frank from having to live with the guilt. The story of the Korean girl was never mentioned in the book after the first time it was brought up, and I believe this is because it is triggering to Frank and due to his PTSD he attempts to repress this memory.

Racism in Day to Day Occurrences

Throughout today’s society, racism is predominant in various culture.

On 9/6 we viewed a Ted Talk on culture. This Ted Talk stood out to me because the speaker, who is from Nigeria, discussed how she had a house boy growing up and throughout her life, the speaker was told on multiple occasions, that their house boy was poor. The speaker grew up believing that her house boy was uncultured and him and his family were incapable of basic life function. The speaker then visited where her house boy lives and was surprised to see that her house boys brother weaved a basket by hand. She was surprised to see this because she assumed her whole life that her house boys worth was based solely off of money and that poor people were incapable of most things. Later on in the talk the speaker shares an experience of when the roles were reversed. The speaker talks about when she attended college and had an American roommate. Her american roommate told the speaker she was shocked that her English was so good but was surprised when the speaker responded by saying English is the first language in Nigeria. Her roommate also asked if she could teach her some tribal music but the speaker made a tasteful joke that the tribal music was a Maria Carey album.

For one out of class assignment we had to read the introduction of Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. One part of this novel that stood out to me and relates to culture was the discussion of African American personal and family stories of abuse rarely surfaced and were discussed  in medical literature and popular literature. Washington states, “The experimental suffering  of black Americans has taken many forms: fear, profound deception, psychological trauma, pain, injection with deadly agents, disfigurement, crippling, chronic illness, undignified display, intractable pain, stolen fertility and death” (Pg. 9). Although the suffering of black Americans is tragic in many forms, it goes undiscovered throughout history due to the lack of documentation of medical practitioners. The information was “downplayed” and seen as therapy.