Author: Jennifer Lew

Slavery in Libya

Although many of us believe that slavery is in the past, slavery is still very prominent in other parts of the world. This is evident through current events. Recently a video was posted of enslaved people being auctioned off in Libya. Many people were shocked and disturbed by the video, as the news swiftly spread on many social media websites.

In the video, men were being treated like animals and were being sold for $400. While researching this current event I began to think about consent and how this current event relates to this course. I immediately linked this event to Fortune’s Bones. Read more

Sterilization without Consent

Imagine living your whole life wanting children, only to be sterilized by the government without your consent, effectively destroying your ability to have children. This is the case for a large amount of people, mostly minorities. “Used as a means of controlling “undesirable” populations – immigrants, people of color, poor people, unmarried mothers, the disabled, the mentally ill – federally-funded sterilization programs took place in 32 states throughout the 20th century” states Lisa Ko in her article. Although many of us would like to think that the practice of sterilization has ended, it still continues to be a prominent issue in the world.  Read more

How Far we Have Come

After reflecting on my personal growth in this class in my previous blog post, I began to think about the progress of the class as a whole. Our advancement as a class was evident through our recent class activities.

In class this past week, we worked on our class collective course statement. When we began the project, we focused on Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Edition (GLOBE). As we were working on this portion of the project, I began to take note of the differences from the beginning of the semester, to now. I also realized how the learning outcomes were evident in our work.  Read more

Growth

Racism and Medicine 101 has been very important class for me this semester. Having been raised in a place where my classmates all had similar upbringings and backgrounds, in the suburbs of Buffalo, this class was very enlightening. I remember coming to this class in the beginning of the semester and questioning if there was any correlation between race and medicine, but now it is inevitable that I relate one to the other. Using concrete evidence, through Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid, and more abstract texts, like Percival Everett’s Zulus, I learned about Racism in Medicine and furthered my knowledge substancially. Read more

The Time my Friend’s HIPAA Rights Were Violated

(The following post is not affiliated with SUNY Geneseo, but rather a school far, far away)

Dodging stray chairs, I meandered my way across the cafe caressing two steaming cups of coffee. It was a frigid, but sunny November day back home in Buffalo, and I was glad to visit my friend. Approaching the table, she shuffled her abundance of papers and made room for our warm drinks. Carefully, I placed the our drinks down onto the tiny wooden table making sure not to ruin her hours of school work. After a moment of adjusting, our conversation began as usual; I complained about college, she complained about graduate school. It was good to be home.

Our playful and lighthearted venting session regarding school continued until the conversation took a slight turn. My friend began to tell me something that made me immediately think about this course. She adjusted her black, thick-rimmed glasses with her index finger as she explained: Her HIPAA rights were violated. Again. Read more

Cold Imagery and Consent in Zulus

In class we recently discussed Colson Whitehead’s fantastic use of vocabulary in Zone One. Like Whitehead, Percival Everett uses a variety of literary elements to convey his ideas in his novel Zulus. A very prominent element throughout the novel was imagery. Everett uses this element in order to appeal to the reader’s senses and to add depth to the major themes. Read more

Voluntourism Firsthand

In numerous classes, we discussed the controversial idea of “voluntourism”. As the world becomes more global, it is imperative to address “voluntourism” in greater depth. At first glance, it may seem simple and innocent: Fortunate people travel to other countries to help those less fortunate. In reality, “voluntourism” is much more complex. Who truly has the right to declare one less fortunate from another? Those who disagree with voluntourism use the argument that the “help” given to those who receive it, is ultimately useless. They also believe that those who take part in abroad volunteering trips are doing it for the wrong reason. Read more

Sexual Assault and Consent

While reading Zulus, it is inevitable that one thinks about rape, or at least some sort of sexual assault. Consent is a crucial theme to Percival Everett’s novel. Whether it be chapter A or chapter Z, Alice Achitophel, the protagonist, recalls the first scene of Zulus in which she is raped by a stranger. This horrific incident is described in great depth through the author’s use of sensory elements like imagery. This is literary element is evident in chapter H. Everett states; “Her thoughts spilled with shards of her brain down her body and into her lungs and became sparkling cities, bubble-covered cities, fat with the hope of success and clear of the poison planet-air which she sucked in.” The majority of books in this course have referenced a lack of consent. Although this is the case, Zulus uses a plethora of detailed descriptions and repetition to further the reader’s understanding on a more personal level. Read more

Lion Telling the Giraffe’s Story

I arrived at this class with little or no knowledge of the subject. I wasn’t sure how I would like the class since I wasn’t really interested in medicine and had only a minimal knowledge on the topic of racism (through high-school history classes, social media, and current events). My initial reaction to the class was probably more on the negative side. I wondered what could racism possibly have to do with medicine? I wasn’t familiar with the subject and we never discussed it in high school. Nonetheless, after doing research and learning about racism and medicine, and their correlation, I have grown curious and interested in this topic.

This tangent may seem slightly off topic but it actually brings me to an important point. The reason I am so uninformed about the correlation of medicine and racism may not be a coincidence, rather due to the inaccessibility of these sources. In Medical Aparthied, Harriet A. Washington describes that many of the medical records of experimentation are not easily accessible. Washington begins the novel by explaining that there has been an mistreatment of African Americans in general, but specifically in the medical field. The author goes on to list various examples of issues in medical research with African Americans. These include but are not limited to historical cases and some more contemporary.

On page 1, Harriet Washington refers to a well-known women’s doctor, James Marian Sims, who had many breakthroughs but who also had a dark past regarding medical experimentation on African Americans. Despite performing many gruesome surgeries, Sims is still praised for his medical breakthroughs and contributions to women’s surgery. Another more contemporary example of this idea is found on page 8. Washington refers to a case in which the Medical College of Georgia used stolen African American bodies for physician training. Although this was a terrible incident, it was overlooked due to the school’s prestige.

Harriet A. Washington’s introduction to Medical Aparthied conveys many crucial themes, one of which is the idea that African American’s side of the story was not well represented. Rather than portraying the abuse and records of experimentation of African Americans, the breakthroughs of upper class white doctors was magnified. A Nigerian proverb on page 8 states “Don’t let the lion tell the giraffe’s story.” Unfortunately in our world, the lion told it. Although there are many medical records, they do not account for the pain that many African Americans went through and are going through. The author also states that many of these documents are hidden away.

It’s disturbing to me that this topic is not often talked about. In a plethora of ways, it is wrong that people like James Marion Sims are glorified when they have committed such monstrous acts. Although it isn’t the most lighthearted topic, it is imperative to address the evident mistreatment, abuse, and experimentation of so many innocent people.