Author: Evelyn Mendez

COLORED ONLY

In Jackson, Mississippi, 1961, there was a signed ordered by the police stating “WAITING ROOM FOR COLORED ONLY” in hospitals and medical centers to segregate between the blacks and whites. According to “Civil Rights and Healthcare: Remembering Simkins v. Cone (1963)”, during this time period, African American doctors, dentists, and surgeons were only allowed to practice on other African Americans.

Of course during that time, the majority of white people thought African Americas were filthy and didn’t want much to do with them unless they were serving them. Of course medical practice is very serious so they’re only going to trust “their kind.” If a sign like this is up, it just shows that they didn’t even want to sit with the “colored group.”

Eventually, “the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case) deemed that the two hospitals’ policies of racial discrimination for both patient admissions and visiting physician staff privileges violated the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution.”

This was a positive changed for the “colored group” in that they didn’t have to feel so secluded and treated as if they were animals. In reading the article, “The difference between blacks and animals”, Alice white states, “animals were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites.”

When I that sign I felt like it related so much to that quote because in this day and age you only see signs like that if “NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED” in to a store or an area in a park. It just shows how much white people back then belittled African Americans just because of their complexion.

 

Second-line and Sanctus

Dr. McCoy offered an extra credit opportunity to the class about a month ago. This entitled us to meet Steve Prince, an artist from New Orleans who creates charcoal art depicting a blend of his African American experiences with historical attributes of discrimination. When I went to meet Steve Prince during his presentation of all of his famous works and his explanations, I remembered one specific piece–“Second Line.”

As I was flipping through Fortunes Bones by Marilyn Nelson I found an image that looked pretty similar to “Second Line”, it had the same name “Second line” (28). It was a photograph taken by Leo Touchet. On the next page (29), the poem Sanctus there. It represents “Second-line” in the fact that it has to do with a funeral but yet the people in the image are dancing and singing “Call us home, Lord, call us home. Call us home, Lord, set us free.”

(In a way, this connects to my previous Blog Post “7000 bodies deepbecause the people who seem like they are celebrating are actually in pain because of their loss of a close friend or relative. )

In Steve Prince’s portrait, “Single-line” the people also have umbrellas in their hands, instead of dancing, they’re playing the trumpet. According Prince it had to do with their faith in Christianity and trumpets happen to be biblical in the book of Revelations. I remember Steve saying that no matter how sad black people are, they will find a way to celebrate and reveal their happiness, rather than pain because the person is now assumed to be in Heaven.

This similarity is important and relates to the class because of the name of the course “Race & Medicine.” Although we mean medicine in a literal sense, now that we’ve completed the semester I view this class as medication for those who don’t know enough about Race. There is one race and that is the human race, but during this generation for some, race is still a black and white thing. We as humans are still segregated in our own ways whether it be politically, economically, status wise or racially.

The opportunity to meet Steve Prince was like a test to see how much the medication helped me as a student in Dr. McCoy’s “Race and Medicine” class. It was a chance to understand race from a deeper and literal perspective, rather than imagining what happened to African Americans through books that we read in class.

Second-line, Second-line and Sanctus all helped me understand the idea that what we define race as, is actually a cultural aspect to humanity.

We all suffer. We all bleed. We are all human.

Why do we play the race card with children?

Let Black Kids Just Be Kids says that “People of all races see black children as less innocent, more adult-like and more responsible for their actions than their white peers.”

Not My Bone’s by Marilyn Nelson says “I was not this body, I was not these bones, This skeleton was just my temporary home… You can own a man’s body, but you cant own his mind. You are not your body”(25).

When people view others by race, they aren’t accepting their internal characteristics as a human being; especially with children. The internal characteristics that human beings withhold are what should capture another person’s attention the most.If a child isn’t acting in the way that you want them to behave or expect them to behave you can’t really blame them, you can only blame the parents and their environment.

If you are a teacher that has a black student in their class, you shouldn’t teach them or treat them any different from the Asian boy or the white girl in the class. In doing so you are only reciprocating to societies standards and not improving yourself as another human being on this planet. We are all human, live on the same planet and in order to continue sharing the environment in which we all live in, we have to learn that we are not our bodies.

We can’t continue to place our complexions in to categories and separate people economically and financially just by their appearance.

Black children are just as innocent as white children. Children are children. The issue that I think that this article is pointing at is that white children happen to be a lot more protected in regard to money or opportunities. As of 2014 according to Black Demographics, “African American Income”, majority of African Americans make between $35,000-$100,000 a year. White household incomes according to “Demographic trends and economic well-being”, make between “$50,000-100,000”.

White households have a head start on making higher salaries because many happen to have money passed down to them. Many happen to get in to better universities, can afford to attend high end schools and programs from a young age. The list goes on, but historically African Americans are still at a disadvantage for opportunity and are still treated differently from white people.

These differences shouldn’t create a deviate the treatment towards any one, especially children. White and black children are innocent no matter what their conditions are like.

Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

 

7,000 bodies deep

Beneath the southern surface of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, 7000 bodies were found. According to “Up To 7,000 Bodies Found Buried Beneath University Of Mississippi Medical Center” about 80 years ago, the State Lunatic Asylum had shut down due to constant causes of death such as “tuberculosis, strokes, heart attack, and occasional epidemics of yellow fever and influenza.”

This article correlates with Zone One by Colson Whitehead because in the novel there are dead bodies everywhere either walking zombies or dead bodies outspread everywhere. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is dealing with a similar situation in that they have discovered what I imagine to be the same amount of bodies as in Zone One. As all of the deaths in the Asylum were from painful diseases, I would imagine that the zombies too went through a painful process to become who they’ve become in Zone One.

Despite the fact that the dead bodies are about 80 years old now, the correlation between the two situations is that regardless of the way you die, it is painful. Not only is it painful for the person dying, its painful for others around them to watch them torture others as zombies or for others to finally find out where the people related to them who lived in the Asylum have been buried all this time.

Although many may not know those who were found beneath the Medical Center, the story is still unfortunate. There were probably family members worried sick after the Asylum shut down about where their relatives were buried.

The quote “People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over” by Jim Morrison helps me conclude the idea that death for both the zombies and the people who died in the Asylum was painful while they were living. Once they died the only pain left was for those who cared about them or the people today finding out the devastating story of the conditions in which those people were left to die under.

 

Poverty epidemic

Poverty is the state of being poor or the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount

Throughout the semester, all of the novels and articles that we’ve discussed relate to poverty. The article and novel that I felt correlated with poverty the most were “Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south. Why?” written by Ed Pilkington and Zulus by Percival Everett. Zulus and the Hookworm article both dealt with negative biological affects on people and poverty.

Zulus dealt with the life of a women, Alice Achitophel, who becomes impregnated by a rapist and has to deal with the environmental tragedies of a nuclear disaster. Alice is the last women on earth who is pregnant which is an issue for the apocalyptic time period during the novel. The only food available is cheese because everything else is contaminated. Of course, pregnant women happen to eat more than the average person because they’re eating for two persons. Her being pregnant causes issues with the distribution of food because it’s already an issue that there is barely enough food for everyone. When there’s a person who is obese and pregnant, that causes an imbalance in the fact that 1 person is getting an advantage.

Hookworm is a disease that “enters the body through the skin, usually through the soles of bare feet, and travels around the body until it attaches itself to the small intestine where it proceeds to suck the blood of its host.” This parasite conquers the amount of food that you admit in to your system which then “causes iron deficiency and anemia, weight loss, tiredness and impaired mental function.” If you’re already dealing with poverty and struggling to get food for survival that has nutritional values, a disease like this takes more of toll on you.

In comparison to Zulus where poverty is already affected by a greater cause , the impoverished areas in the United States where hookworm is popularly contaminated with, is dealing with poverty due to similar reasoning. According to the article “Causes of poverty in America”, those reasons are poor economy, lack of affordable housing, drug use, lack of education and medical expenses. The issues with both situations are that the people are lacking resources.

Here in the United States, one of the states that have been affected the most by hookworm is Alabama.The people affected by hookworm in Alabama lack resources in that poverty is a large factor. If you are poor, you can’t afford a $15,000 septic tank to filter the water coming in from the terrain under your home.  According to “Hook worm infections and Sanitation Failures Plague Rural Alabama” only “half  the households with septic have a failing system, or worse, no means of waste disposal at all besides a pipe directed at the backyard.”

This is sad because people are trying to maintain their resources and fix the issue but they all cannot afford to do so. Similarly in Zulus, Alice’s secret of being pregnant was held by people who were trying to deal with the same issues, which is to go back to their normal lives and survive normally.

“Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.”

Eli Khamarov

–So is an unwanted disease.–

American Ignorance about under-developing countries

There are several misconceptions that Americans have toward people who live in under developing countries due to how American society portrays them. Those misconceptions allow Americans to imagine how they live and look like, which create certain suppositions that aren’t always positively true.

In most American classrooms, we are taught about gratitude which pertains to teaching student’s ‌social and ethical skills. As students get older, they begin to hear phrases such as, “Don’t waste your food, there are starving children in Africa” or “Be grateful that you have clothes on your back; there are people who don’t have any.” When children hear phrases as such, they may begin to form an image in their mind in thinking that ALL “poor people” are alike. This mentality forces Americans from a young age to place themselves on a high pedestal, overlooking the other countries that they assume don’t have the same benefits or resources, as them. Little do many know that the disadvantages of many underdeveloped countries have to do with certain cultural or historical reasons, whose in authority and how their economic system has been dealt with over the last century or so.

For example, according to Reasons behind Haiti’s Poverty by Karen Fragala Smith, “Haiti was the wealthiest colony in the New World and represented more than a quarter of France’s economy.” Yet, “After a Haitian slave revolt defeated the French army in 1801, the newly independent nation became the first country in the New World to abolish slavery.” From then on, Haiti’s economy went down hill during the 20th century, due to natural disasters, an epidemic of HIV, and environmental devastation. Therefore, “Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, but its culture and history are undeniably rich.” At one point America wasn’t doing so well either, if it wasn’t for the end World War II, and the reduction of taxes and spending, who knows how else we would have dealt with the Great Depression. To be merely proud of your country isn’t wrong because we all have the right to be patriotic about where we come from. Yet, to denigrate another country with its present situation is fairly wrong.

According to Most Americans think the U.S. is great, but fewer say it’s the greatest  written by Alec Tyson, “38% said the U.S. stood above all others, while 53% said it was one of the greatest nations and 8% thought some others were better than the U.S.” Most Americans happen to grow up having a nationalistic mentality towards their country with what they are told to be proud of, just as any country is with their resources and benefits. As to 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Proud To Be An American by Lauren Fulte, a couple of reasons that we should be proud to be American are freedom, opportunity, unity and diversity. In reality those reasons are all opinion based and can be viewed differently by others who live in “underdeveloped countries.” Although these characteristics may generally seem true, in several cases, it may not be true. For example, diversity may exist in the United States but racism still exists in that all races aren’t accepted in all neighborhoods. Diversity is viewed differently and exists across the globe, so we shouldn’t take one aspect that we have and say that we’re better than the rest of the under developing world.

The first place that comes to mind when most Americans think of the under developing world is Africa. Usually that is because on national television, we watch commercials that ask for donations to send to Africa and constantly seeing that gives you an exclusive image of what Africa is like if you haven’t been there.

The way that the media and society portrays other countries alongside their own ends up causing a backfire effect for many principles that are placed about our country. The United States is considered to be, “a North American nation that is the world’s most dominant economic and military power” according to U.S. News.Yet if you do research about our country being in debt, where our resources come from and how we deal with other worldly causes, you wouldn’t say that our country is the best for a fact, in any aspect.

Many misconceptions that people have about underdeveloped countries are that all of the people are dying of starvation, they all live in rural areas or that the reason for poverty in certain areas are because of bad decisions that they’ve made. These myths and misconceptions reveal the lack of knowledge people have about countries other than their own. Once they do their research on the on those countries, they’ll realize that the information that they had before was ‌wrong.

Therefore, Americans shouldn’t make assumptions on how, and why the people who live in under developing countries live in the way that they do. Those stereotypes conquer many peoples perspectives toward underdeveloped countries, and so as to change that, research needs to be done, the media needs to change how they display those countries as a whole and society needs to be more aware of the actual causes of the issues going on across the globe. They shouldn’t simply send volunteers or donate food and water because eventually the good deed becomes temporary. Donating water, food, clothes and other resourceful products to those countries does a great deed, but once those resources finish, people will eventually need to find a way to get those resources alone.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Anne Isabelle

 

Consent from humans beings

Now that we’ve read through Zone One by Colson Whitehead, I found myself comparing and contrasting the lives of the zombies to the lives of slaves from Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington. There were differences in the lifestyles that people lived by before they turned into zombies and the slaves before they were used for medical research. What I found to be most interesting, were the similarities in that all the people who turned into zombies or were used for medical and scientific research after their death weren’t given the opportunity to give consent for others to exploit their bodies after they died. Regardless of how they lived before they died, their natural and moral privilege as humans to have consent over their bodies before and after death was confiscated.
Whitehead indicates that zombies are considered to be characters that go through negative experiences. Zombies inadvertently increased their population by infecting humans with their infection which causes the others to also have the urge to infect others. The lifestyles that most of the people lived by before they were infected were generally good alongside the lives that all African slaves lived since the 1800s. “The dead had paid their mortgages on time”… “The dead had graduated with admirable GPAs, configured monthly contributions to worthy causes, judiciously apportioned their 401 (k)s across diverse sectors according to the wisdom of their dead licensed financial advisers, and superimposed the borders for the good school districts on mental maps of their neighborhoods which were often included on the long list when magazines ranked cities with the Best Quality of Life.” (31)
Washington reveals a similar fact in that slave’s experienced negative treatment, which in particular situations were painful mentally, physically and/or visually. When African slaves were brought to the United States they were enslaved to work out in the fields down south in the blistering heat; they were treated unjustly. Eventually, “President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to slaves in Confederate states,” in 1863. This allowed these people to be “free” in being able to work by their own means, marry legally, receive education, own their own homes, etc., but they still lived under “the white man’s legal system.” Their rights were still under surveillance because of the aggression of white folk who hated blacks. African American culture was configured by the slave mentality. Even after they were “freed” they were viewed as garbage.
These human beings experienced being enslaved to a modern slave mentality and to societal stereotypes. They still had to fight for rights, weren’t paid enough, were beat up, spit on and treated in various inequitable ways. African American rights were so neglected that as slaves or even after they were “freed,” they weren’t allowed to have medical attention if they were ill or injured in any form. “Enslaved African Americans were more vulnerable than whites to respiratory infections, thanks to poorly constructed slave shacks that admitted winter cold and summer heat.”(29) that simply proves to show the levels of morality that the masters had for their slaves. Another example of that happening is when a slave owner William Massie says “““Patty” had just dies “of I known not what disease… She has been saying she was sick for near a year and always tended to be sick.” No doctor was ever summoned to investigate…””
I found that the neglect only gets worse when scientific researchers used their bodies after their death for research that was helpful in finding cures to diseases, learning more about the human body, acknowledging the differences between different human beings, understanding genetics and the list goes on. An example where this is taken place is when Dr. Lunsford Yandell, a white research scientist states: “On March 16th, 1833, I was called before sunrise to visit a Negro woman. I took from her twelve ounces of blood… I waited about fifteen minute when she had a severe convulsion.” (29) that woman had no power over her own body. It was already enough that she had no control over the system during the time period but to have no control over your physical body is torturous.
The problem is that they didn’t consent to give their bodies up for research. In today’s day and age, consent is mandatory for every action doctors or scientists partake in doing to you when you’re alive and when you are dead. It’s only morally right because people have different beliefs and religious perspectives about the afterlife and care about what happens to their bodies after they die. Compared to Zone One, zombies had their lives taken away just as slaves did from the moment they were born in to the system where if you had any percentage of black in you, you were a slave.
Both zombies and slaves had their lives changed drastically and dealt with negative experiences.
Consent establishes your choice of whether you accept what one person or a group can do to you entirely. If consent were considered by the research scientists, the information in scientific and history textbooks would be switched around. If consent were considered by the zombies who infected other humans, Zone One would be a complete different story.

Solutions

This past summer, Dr. Munch and several students had the opportunity to go on a study abroad trip to Ghana to take Biology 344. Along with this being a class, it was an experience for these students. They were able to help search for the sources of several diseases that have been affecting the people’s health drastically. The three main objectives to going on this trip were to improve Healthcare, economic wealth-fare, and the educational infrastructure.

During Wednesday’s class, we discussed the difficulties that millions of Ghanaians deal with on a daily basis and the perspectives that people have regarding Medical Voluntourism. Dr. Munch and Professor Kennison came in to serve as a source for our curiosity and interest in these topics. Read more

Volunteer?

Recently during class we went over the topic of medical volunteerism, which has to do with visiting certain areas in other countries that may not have the same medical resources that there are in the United States and assisting those in need of medical help. We read an article that had to do with medical volunteerism being an issue, due to several ethical and antiseptic reasons. The program allows inexperienced high school students assist people who are in need of medical health and sometimes, that means life or death.

In the blog post, “The Trouble with Medical “Voluntourism””, we learned that there is a program called “Projects Abroad” that allows people whom are at least 16 years of age, “lack prior medical experience and don’t speak the language” to travel and receive experience that people usually get two to five years after medical school. They travel to counties of lower income and developing countries such as, Tanzania, Ghana, Cambodia, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. This program “touts itself as a “Doctors without Borders Alternative.”” The purpose of high school students taking advantage of this opportunity is so that they can begin gathering experience to put on to their resume, so that by the time they apply to medical school they can have a higher chance of getting in.

These students are way more focused on themselves rather than what the opportunity entitles them to do. They take this opportunity as a chance to make themselves look better and prepare for medical school to serve as doctor in the United States. It seems like many students say that they’re doing it for a good cause but in reality it’s to get the experience that they need in order be a top choice for their desired medical school.

There are also ethical and antiseptic issues that take a role when it comes to partaking in this event. According to the blog post, The Trouble with Medical “Voluntourism, the same program, “Projects Abroad” allows students to deliver babies, remove teeth, and even do “unnecessary episiotomies and pulling breech babies”. These all can be dangerous because if you aren’t using the right equipment, cleaning the area of that person’s body with the right items or doing things correctly, that situation can become life or death.

I personally believe that these people shouldn’t allow high school students to take this “opportunity”. No matter how good it looks on their resume for medical school, they are dealing with fragile conditions that others are going through and using it to make themselves look better.

Rolling through “Southern Discomfort”

“I have heard that the Masters beat and scourge them most cruelly. But I have not seen anything of the kind, nor do I believe that it occurs very often. For the southern people as class are Noble minded kind  hearted people, as can be found in any country…”

I am appalled by the idea that there were people who thought of slaves in such an ignorant manner. It’s as if white people during that time were in denial of the fact that there were enslaved human beings that were treated brutally by the majority of the people that came from the same race and culture. The mentality that is depicted shows that white people thought that everything was fine because so much was completed for them. No matter how the slaves were treated, their lives were filled of contentment due to how well they were treated.

It’s like when we disregard the fact that there are people dying of hunger on a daily basis or other problems going on in the world. But, because we don’t see it or hear enough about it on the news. We continue to live upon our routine on a daily basis because compared to them we’re more than well off. We know its going on but then we start a ton of theories and trust issues, regarding how to donate and trusting certain websites. Sometimes its just people making excuses so that they can escape being a part of a real life issue.

Another analogy would be how a lot of minorities accept the fact that the majority of people that are incarcerated happen to be African American and Latino. We know and accept this statistic or phenomenon because many African American and Hispanic households are affected by this being such a popularly known conversation in certain communities.

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/raceinc.html

I’d honestly even like to compare this to “To kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, where Atticus goes out of his way ( during the 1960s) to protect a black man who was accused of raping a farmers daughter that he worked for. Whether or not you know something is true, it’s your responsibility to cut the curiosity and attempt to find out whats actually happening if you care about social issues or injustices.

-Evelyn J Mendez