Noticing: A Self-Reflection

I’m not good at noticing things. My step dad believes that this will be perilous when I start driving, that I will be too caught up in something else to notice the road before me. When I’m walking places, I notice little things. The birds above me being the most common. I stare at them in the clouds, wondering if I’m peering up at a bird of prey or another stupid seagull. I will not notice the cars around me as I continue walking. It really is a wonder I haven’t been hit, and probably proves my step dad’s point. I want to be a school psychologist when I’m done with all my own schooling. I want a job that revolves around me being able to notice the behaviors and patterns of functioning in others. However, I could barely notice history when it was found in fiction. This inability to notice led me to finding some difficulty in this class, but it also led to growth. Had you asked me “How much consent do we really have?” at the beginning of the semester I probably would have just looked at you, wide-eyed with no answer. And to be fair, even now I don’t have a complete answer, an incomplete one yes, but because of the readings and discussions of this course I can continue to work on that question until I find a complete answer.

At first I completely misunderstood the epigraph. I believed that the epigraph related back to what I had been taught in high school, to notice things within a text and connect them back to each other. I didn’t think of how noticing things in fiction works could be applied to nonfiction works, and I certainly didn’t think of how that could be further applied to my day to day life. This lead me to read deeply into the nonfiction texts, as they were fact-checked and revolved around historical events. Of course, fiction texts could revolve around historical events, historical fiction is a sub genre, but I saw that as something loosely based on an event, especially when compared to nonfiction. So I clung to Medical Apartheid, as if it was my lifesaver instead of the “both/and”. For a while I wasn’t sure I was noticing anything at all. Then one day while I was commenting on the relationship between African American patients and charity hospitals, I called this relationship a “trade-off”. The word had just left my mouth, before I stopped, looked at Dr. McCoy who was watching and said “No that’s not right. A trade-off means giving something and getting something else of equal value, and that’s not what was happening in charity hospitals.” I like to think that this is when I first began to notice things, especially my own language. I was careful about what words I used and asked myself if the words I used really allowed for me to articulate what I meant. However when you look back at the blog post I made on this experience, you can still see how I attempted to ground my own noticing in the past, and in Medical Apartheid. I wasn’t ready to let my noticing serve as a “both/and” quite yet. 

When reading Toni Morrison’s Home I began to relate to Cee. Cee notices things but doesn’t understand what she’s noticing. She has been so sheltered by her brother Frank that she isn’t able to see when she is in danger. When Cee has an interview for a job as a doctor’s assistant she doesn’t make the connection between “him being a scientist” (pg.60) and the books in his office (pg. 65) on the science of eugenics. Cee also notices the good in the doctor’s actions, such as him sending patients to charity hospitals, or allowing other doctors to watch his work, but she doesn’t see how this can be bad. We can, especially through our outside readings, yet without those readings I would have been just as sheltered as Cee.  Many of us were aware of the danger Cee was in at the mention of the word “eugenics” (pg. 65) but we still had to look up the titles of the books to understand what they were about. Cee mentions needing to look up eugenics to better understand Doctor Beau’s work, and knowing that word would certainly make her aware of the danger she is in. However not all of us (me included) made the effort to notice the books, their titles, and what they were about. When we did look them up we saw they were anti-African American propaganda and books on keeping the Nordic race alive. Seeing this we are able to notice what Cee does not notice. This also shows us what we miss when we aren’t noticing. We have to be actively noticing and ready to see how what we notice connects with the world around us. If we just see the bad in the past, we leave ourselves vulnerable to be in Cee’s shoes, unable to see when it is in front of us. Looking back I now know I needed another push to start actively noticing. 

That push came when we began reading Clay’s Ark. Clay’s Ark made me unsettled from the start, maybe it was dangerous start, maybe it was switching from past to present, or the various ways consent was ignored. From the kidnapping to the forced infection of Blake and Rane to the way the Clay’s Ark organism changed its hosts, I found the way consent was ignored disturbing. We had spent the semester talking about how the medical field had historically ignored or manipulated the consent of African Americans. From using enslaved people to grave robbing to lying about injecting people with plutonium, Harriet Washington had it covered in Medical Apartheid. At that moment our reading was on how the birth control movement was walking hand in hand with the eugenics movement. I saw this paralleled with Rane’s blatant disregard for the kids the organism would make her want to have. Rane goes as far to say “I’d be willing to abort with an old wire coat hanger.” (pg. 532) when told that the organism makes you need and desire children. For Rane this means that her wishes, her choosing not to consent to pregnancy will be taken away upon forceful infection. This made me think that it was almost a direct opposite of how doctors had taken away women of color’s right to bear children through things like the “Mississippi appendectomy” (Medical Apartheid pg. 190). I saw both taking away motherhood and forcing motherhood as a loss of autonomy, something that was still around today and could be seen in the debate around reproductive rights. I began to draft up a blog post, but I wanted to make sure the argument was strong, and it was there that Dr. McCoy posed the question to me: “How much consent do we really have?”

Now, I was told I didn’t have to answer it, but to think on it, and I was thankful for not needing an answer. I didn’t know the answer, or what the right answer was. And that’s when things began to click, that I was always looking for the right answer, when sometimes there is no right answer. Of course there are wrong answers when it comes to consent, like taking the ability to consent away from someone. As a psychology student the idea of informed consent was that it had to be freely given after someone was made aware of all the risks and benefits, as well as being told they could back out at any time. That was how I came into this class viewing informed consent, and I felt learning about how the medical community had abused it, only strengthened my idea that this was the highest standard of consent. But how was I to notice when consent was lacking if I didn’t even know how much consent we had in the first place? 

Zone One by Colson Whitehead showed me that I could notice when consent was lacking, even in fiction. Mark Spitz, serves as a way to look and navigate through the world after the zombie plague has swept through. One of the things we as readers are drawn to is the mutilation of corpses, known in zombie genre as “taking trophies.” I had never seen what a violation of one’s bodily autonomy this is, despite watching it happen in The Walking Dead years ago with my family. Now I noticed how if using unwilling bodies for dissection was wrong, then so was taking pieces of those bodies. And I know, I am here typing out how Daryl taking someone’s ears is problematic, and someone is bound to say, “but those are zombies.” And? What is a zombie? The living dead, an undead person, a person. Corpses, throughout history have had their bodily autonomy violated, especially African American corpses. Enslaved people had to worry about the “dissection season”, which occurred around the winter time. One Virginian slave remarked “Please God, I hope when I die, it’ll be in the summertime.” (Medical Apartheid pg. 131). Dying in the summertime meant bodies could not be harvested and enslaved even after death, yet if one died in the winter their body could be further used for the experiments of doctors and scientists, even if they never consented.The violation of these bodily rights was seen as acceptable because African Americans were dehumanized to the point of being seen as a subclass. In the case of Zone One, the undead are seen as a subclass, if even seen as human. Because they are viewed as less than human or once a person, it is seen as acceptable to humiliate their bodies after killing them. Mark Spitz humanizes the undead, in comparison with others, including those in charge who say “No, you’re right. Mustn’t humanize them.” (pg.195). Like the lawmakers and powerful men in our world, those of Mark Spitz’s world understand the dangers of humanizing those one exploits. 

Looking back on this course and the things I have learned I hope it encourages you to ask yourself the same questions. How much consent do we have? How do we extend that consent to the walking dead, should the world ever come to that? When we notice but are unable to put it in context with the world around us, we leave ourselves vulnerable to repeating the mistakes of the past. Zombies lose their bodily autonomy because we forget that they are people, people just like you and I. African Americans lost their rights because people also saw them as less than a person, that they did not deserve the full protection informed consent offers. How can we continue to improve on who and under what situations informed covers if we don’t look at where consent is lacking and who is not protected?

We can’t. We cannot thoroughly examine how to keep updating informed consent without looking at the both/and, or in this case how consent was taken away in the past, how that was changed, but how that may fail in the future. We must be aware of both the past and the future and how they can connect to each other. How do we do this? Keep noticing, notice the tropes in your favorite shows or novels that seem wrong, notice when they call on the past, keep looking into the things that confuse you. Keep asking yourself questions, keep thinking on the questions posed to you, ignore the search for the right answer. Instead focus on the incomplete answer, the building towards an answer that won’t just give you the points needed for a good grade, but that will allow you to grow as a person. That may mean not having an answer and make peace with that. But do not make peace with missing the both/and, with missing the things you notice. Look into what you notice, there’s a reason you notice it. We can not continue to make progress without this, without each person bringing what they notice to the table. Actively noticing is the best way to help make sure we don’t lose sight of how we look out for each other. When we stop noticing, we continue to leave ourselves and others at the mercy of those who see us stopping, thus meaning we lose sight of the progress made and the progress still to come.

What is Interesting

Throughout the novel, Home, by Toni Morrison, I was taken aback by many concepts.  At first, I was confused and questioned what was truly going on but as I continued on, concepts began to become more clear and made more sense.  By piecing together each event and understanding what was happening, the novel became more interesting to me. I started to think more about each little thing and connected occurring events back to previous ones from earlier on in the novel.  

To me, the true meaning of “interesting” is when something catches my eye and I begin to actively think about it and figure out what its true meaning is.  I also consider certain concepts and ideas interesting when they pique my interest and allow me to think critically and more advanced than I was before reading about them.  One concept that became interesting to me later on in the book was when Cee displayed her angst after being told that she was unable to have children when she decided it was the right time to do so.  Prior to her finding out that she was unable to have children, there was no interest expressed from her that she would’ve liked to later on in life. It makes me think about the times that I may never have thought of doing something but the second I heard that I couldn’t do it, was the exact moment that it was all I could think about.  It was a pivotal moment in the book because it was when Frank realized that his baby sister wasn’t a baby anymore and could make decisions on her own without any input from her older brother. He felt a sense of devastation since it came across that he wasn’t needed by her anymore due to this one decision; he had never been told by Cee that she wanted to have children so when he heard it for the first time, he was taken aback and didn’t know what to think.  Frank was no longer the older brother who could guide Cee through her life and protect her from every small incident that could possibly happen to her. It was an alien concept to him and he was unable to fathom the idea of not protecting his little sister anymore.

Another concept that I found interesting was at the end of the book.  In the last two chapters, Frank and Cee decided to visit the site where the father from the fight years prior was buried.  Frank had laid the bones down in the quilt ever so carefully that he didn’t destroy the remains and treated them with respect as if the father was still alive.  Once Frank and Cee paid their respect at the make-shift grave Cee decided that it was time to go home. She tapped Frank on the shoulder and said “Come on, brother. Let’s go home.”  It was the turning point at, ironically, the end of the book. It showed the readers that Cee was finally grown up and could make decisions on her own without her big brother. This whole book was “interesting” to me and had me thinking during every chapter about each concept and scene that occurred describing the lives that Frank and Cee were going through.

Walkers, Skels, and Biters Oh My!

In reading Zone One by Colson Whitehead, I was met with a concept within horror fiction I am all too familiar with from reading other series and watching media within the zombie genre. For whatever reason, the characters in a zombie movie or a zombie novel never just call zombies zombies. Despite the zombie being one of the most popular and perhaps the most recognizable monster within horror fiction, the characters always behave as though they have no idea what’s going on when their zombie apocalypse starts up.

In every piece of zombie related fiction there’s always some dialogue which goes something like this. “Should we call them Walkers because of their slow rate of movement? Perhaps we should call them Biters because you know, they bite?” They’re zombies. You know what a zombie is! Just call them zombies!

This is important however, for the world building aspects of the zombie apocalypse, to enable the violence which will be done to these creatures. Action involving the slaughter of the shambling undead is only entertaining for a general audience once the creatures have been sufficiently dehumanized and we no longer sympathize with them. Zone One does an excellent job of diving into this and got me thinking about how the names we use take away the empathy we feel towards other groups of human beings.

It connected within my mind to an episode of the award winning psychological horror series Black Mirror titled Men Against Fire. Much like in Zone One, the story follows a military force clearing areas of biological threats, these being diseased individuals or people with genetic weaknesses. The similarity of these stories follow a theme of doing whatever it takes to survive by way of dehumanizing the enemy. Violence against the dehumanized gray horde is easier than it would be to project human characteristics onto these adversaries. However, there is a more interesting and less commonly utilized method of devaluing the enemies present to the characters in Zone One. Characters project the qualities, tendencies and personalities of the people they dislike onto the zombies. The ways characters respectively choose to go about this speaks to who they are and what their background in life has been.

Zone One is a story about rebuilding society. It is a narrative which revolves centrally on the concept of reclamation and the taking back of New York City. New York City is a place containing many different kinds of people from many different classes and backgrounds. New York city is also the place of origin for use of the term Skel.

Some characters choose to imagine the skels as the rich, people with privilege and power that they themselves never had. In doing so, they are easy to think of as villainous and deserving of the dispatching they are to receive from the hunters. Likewise, and in better accordance with the namesake of the skels, other characters imagine the infected as being criminals. They choose to think about the infected people as scum. The name they give the infected is worth paying attention to. As per it’s definition, a Skel, is a homeless, vagrant who engages in criminal activity.

This is the most interesting case I have encountered as to the naming of a zombie in fiction. It is not a simple reference to the behavior of the popular monster, but rather a comparison to an undesirable element of society. In making this the slur of choice survivors use to refer to the infected, Colson Whitehead gives weight to the mindset of his characters. In doing so, and throughout the narrative thread of the book, Zone One transcends the simple tropes of mindless zombie slaying and serves as a commentary about class and dehumanization of those whom society is pitted against.

A Follow-Up on the Nuances of Consent

Our group blog post discussing consent was one that I considered very fleshed out and thorough, but also lacked an incisive conclusion. I don’t think that is a fault of myself or my group, but instead because, as we had established, it was an idea rooted in such a degree of complexity that it was seemingly impossible to come to a succinct conclusion on what is and isn’t acceptable within the grounds of proper informed consent. There is a strange juxtaposition between aspects that are so obviously black and white, while others fall into a clouded area that is difficult to navigate. I’ve had more time to consider these aspects, and I believe that it is a topic that requires more introspection, especially when it is something that is very prevalent in all of our lives.

I consider the AEC policy and the general rules that doctors need to abide by. When a doctor performs anything in line with their work, it is done so with the understanding that a patient’s best interest will be guiding their processes, such as administering medicine or performing surgery. This brings up the question, at least in my eyes, of plastic and cosmetic surgery, particularly ones that are primarily done for aesthetic purposes. I generally don’t have an issue with cosmetic surgeries; people have the right to do what they want with their bodies. However, is there a point when it infringes on proper ethics? Cosmetic surgeries, like anything else, have the potential to harm someone. Generally that potential for harm is understood, but for a non-cosmetic surgery it is taken into account that the risk for harm is outweighed by the necessity for that surgery. Cosmetic procedures can have the equal risk without the justification that it could potentially save a person’s life. I suppose there is the argument that these surgeries enhance a person’s mental well being, and that once again blurs the line.

Alcohol was another portion that was touched upon in our group post. We addressed that consent is highly debated when alcohol is introduced. This was reintroduced to me when my fraternity attended the school event One Love: a course on seeing signs of unhealthy relationships and how they could be mitigated. We usually participate in the course once a year, but this time we were encouraged to ask questions. The topic of alcohol and consent came up, and it was determined that if either party is intoxicated to any extent any sexual act is deemed not consensual. It was then asked if she (the women hosting) was aware of how often “non-consensual acts” are taking place on this campus considering the party scene at Geneseo, or even at a larger scale how much this occurring nation-wide. She said she does understand that it’s an ongoing issue, but its is obviously very difficult to enforce and it is better in theory than practice. None of these questions were rooted with malicious ideals, but a genuine curiosity for something that is prevalent throughout college campuses. I think it’s important to ask these questions, and I was glad that it had happened, but it didn’t exactly help to have a solidified stance, considering the person teaching us about this struggled herself to come to a solution. 

If it wasn’t blatant before, these are just some of the aspects I thought about that continually add to the nuance of informed consent, and I think it only substantiates the fact that it is important that people do their best to have the clearest understanding of informed consent possible.

Concussions in Youth Sports

owadays kids playing youth sports has been deemed dangerous by many parents and families and still safe and normal for others. Consider the NFL, in recent years the multi-billion dollar organization has been taking serious precautions during each offseason on how they can keep their players as safe as possible without ruining the efficiency of the game. This has included improving helmet padding, cleaning up dirty hits during the game, and changing the rules of where you are and aren’t allowed to hit players while on the field. Many people have said they don’t like the so called ‘cleaning up’ of the game, however others are beyond satisfied with the new rules because they weren’t fond of the way the game was played before.

There is an estimate of about 3.8 million concussions a year in youth sports with probably around 50% not even being reported or known about. That sentence alone can force a lot of parents to take their kids out of competitive contact sports which is a serious problem in our society because you could be crushing their dreams and aspirations at such a young age. Which to me is one of the worst things an adult could do to a kid. When young kids are experimenting with activities like that, I believe , as well as many of my other comrades and peers that they should be able to decide if it is something they want to do or no. Among all children and teens, sports and recreation related concussions are a leading cause of emergency room visits and each year out of all the patients checked in and out of the emergency room because of concussions are 70% youth teens. These numbers are terrifying and scary for mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, and any other guardians.

A concussion can occur pretty much in any situation just as long as you bang your head hard enough. Unfortunately but truthfully, the sports with the highest concussion rates are football, soccer, rugby, hockey and basketball.  Another common way of getting a concussion is bicycling. Especially racing bicycles. One little pebble or stone that gets under your wheel the wrong way will send you over the handlebars. In each sport, they need to come up with more precautions and safety actions. The numbers of youth concussions increase every year and as a society we should be protecting our youth because they are mostly our society’s future.

Not only are they our society’s future, what about their own futures? The kids that were gifted to be able to play sports and grace the pen in the classroom sometimes are stopped short of their potential in whatever it may be due to a very unfortunate injury. It has happened in the past and it will continue to happen in contact sports which is unfortunate but there are more things that can be done to protect our youth. By creating a safer sports culture, enforcing stricter rules, and certifying equipment more often are just a few of the things that are able to prevent head injuries to the youth in the future.

The Value of Honesty

The will to resist acknowledging the truth about your past can be strong, but the push from the world around you to be truthful is often stronger. In the case of Frank in Home, we see a man unwilling to be honest about his experiences and his actions. In Medical Apartheid, we see a medical system that is still not able to acknowledge its own history. In Home, Frank is at least able to be honest with himself, and with us as readers, about what he has been hiding, but in Medical Apartheid we see that the medical industry is still not willing to recognize what it is founded on. I would argue that this helps explain why Frank seems like he is headed towards a better future, but the medical industry in the U.S. seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

Frank spends the entirety of Home going back and forth between the past and the present. He is never able to sit alone with his thoughts, and those closest to him notice his emotional instability. This is especially apparent when we hear from his ex-girlfriend directly and she describes the life she lived with him, before he left to take care of Cee. There is first his “public explosion (Morrison: 78)” and then the added weight of him not wanting to help with the household chores. She notices that he is hurting but she is never able to find out why. Frank eventually tells us the story of his friend who received oral sex from a Vietnamese child, and ends up shooting her. While it is disturbing to hear, it is more disturbing when we find out that it was actually Frank, and not his friend, who engaged in sex with a child and subsequently shot her. He recognizes how horrific this action was, even saying “How could I let her live after she took me down to a place I didn’t know was in me? (Morrison: 134). Not only does he finally admit that he killed the girl, but he also admits that he took part in a sexual act with a child. This realization comes towards the very end of Home, and after that he was able to reconcile an experience he and Cee had as children, as well as officially find a place to call home. By opening up to the mistakes he had made he was able to at least move on with his daily life, even if he still wasn’t at peace.

Medical Apartheid is a book based solely on the racist acts performed by doctors, scientists, and others involved with slavery or the medical field. We are given example after example of horrific events that took place throughout America’s history, and the examples could go on for what seems like forever. With one of the most famous being the Tuskegee experiment where black men were unknowingly infected with syphilis to see how it spread and what the long-term effects were, to the lesser known cases of Mississippi appendectomies, where women were sterilized under the guise of medical treatment in order to stop them from procreating. Harriet Washington works as a reliable narrator, with all of her claims being backed up by evidence she has found during her research, so we can rely on her to be honest. She has to act as the narrator to show us how awful the treatment of black people has been in the medical field, especially since we are unable to rely on the medical field to be honest with us. The institutions that are related to the torture and abuse of black people are still not willing to accept the history they have, so we must rely on outside sources such as Washington to be upfront.

When Frank is finally willing to be honest with us and with himself, he is able to move forward with his life. Although it doesn’t seem like he is completely at peace with himself or with his actions, he has done the hardest part, which is accepting what happened. The same cannot be said for the medical industry that is described by Medical Apartheid. There is a strong reluctance to accept what has happened in the past, and that means that we have never gone through the hardest part of moving forward as a society. When people like Washington are able to point out the injustices caused by the medical community we can see the clear connections between what happened back then and what is still happening now, but we cannot properly move forward until the institutions that caused this wrongdoing are willing to accept their past with us.

When a Body is Valued Over a Person

Perhaps the most interesting reading material in my opinion was “Chapter 12: On The Dissecting Board.” This Chapter tells the Story of Belton, an African American teacher elected to succeed the position of a former teacher who was forced to resign following a law deeming white men teaching black students illegal. His story very much depicted the degree that African Americans were viewed as specimen rather than people. Like many, Belton was the victim of an unfair arrest, after refusing to purchase food at an establishment that wouldn’t let him sit down. The conversation between a doctor and postmaster who saw him was disgusting, with very blatant descriptions about the “specimen” and the things he would do if it meant he would have the ability to dissect him. This eventually came to fruition, with the initiation of a lynching in return for a barrel of whiskey, courtesy of the doctor. In general, this falls in line with the stories and examples found throughout Medical Apartheid, but the manner in which this was written offered a type of story arc that immersed me to a certain extent. Not to say that I have any type of relatability, but even its brevity I found myself invested and empathetic towards Belton’s hardships. Especially when considering that he was ultimately a great person. Teaching is a very noble occupation, even more so during a time period where many sought to silence African Americans and keep them uneducated. That adds to the severity of the fact that he was only looked at as an experiment when he had nothing other than good intentions. He was a person, with values and hopes, and even seeking an occupation was met with hostility because his body was valued over him. Overall I appreciated this material, and considering how much it interested me coupled with the fact that it was (fairly) discussed than some of the longer works, it would be remiss of me to leave it unmentioned.

Birth Control- In More Ways than One

While we were working on the collaborative blog posts in class I was able to discuss multiple different relevant themes that could have been used for the post. While they were all ideas worth exploring, not all of them could be used in our collaborative blog post, just for the sake of time. I would like to explore one specific idea that we discussed further. In Clay’s Ark, when the people who live with the organism have children, the children do not look like what we think a baby would look like. They also don’t grow in the same way we would think of a normal child growing. They are covered in hair, and they are nimble and quick on their feet, especially for their age. They also have more peculiar aspects, like being able to sense the sex of a child while it’s still in the womb just by listening to its heart beat. When Keira and Rane each meet children who were born on the farm, Keira accepts them as they are, and Rane chooses to judge them. Rane’s judgement of the children reminds me of the discussion of reproductive health in Medical Apartheid. In both cases people believe that there are groups who should not reproduce, but for different reasons.

Rane and Keira automatically have very different responses to the children that live on the farm in Clay’s Ark. While Keira and Rane are separated they each get a chance to meet different children who have grown up on the farm. Keira meets Zera, and Keira tries to make her comfortable. When talking to Zera she even invites her to sit on her lap. Eli is the one who makes Zera get off of her, and to the judgement of Lorene, Zera’s mother. When Lorene asks Keira if she thinks she would be willing to have a child that looked like Zera she even says “I think I could handle it (Butler: 546).” On the other hand, when Rane meets Jacob, she doesn’t understand what he is or why he looks the way he does. She rejects the idea that she will ever have a child that looks like him, saying “I never cared so much for the idea of aborting children, but if I thought for a moment that I was carrying another Jacob, I’d be willing to abort it with an old wire coat hanger! (Butler 532).” This statement offends Stephen, who she is talking to when she says this. To reject having children just because they look a certain way is hurtful to the people on the farm, especially because they know she will either be overcome by the organism and start having children, or she will die in the process.

In Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid, she discusses the relationship between black people and reproductive experimentation in great detail. The first quote of the chapter is from Barbara Harris, who says “We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children… (189).” There is then a reference to a specific woman, Fannie Lou Hamer, who had her uterus removed against her will in 1961. She had surgery to remove the pain that she felt in her abdomen, and later found out that she had her uterus removed as well, for no medical reason. She was unable to have children because of this, but it lead her to be “A lifelong opponent of birth control (Washington: 190).” After she had her uterus taken without her consent she felt that by creating birth control, the government was using it as a means of surveillance in order to keep black women from procreating. After she felt like she had her choice taken away from her she felt that it was important to keep her reproductive right to procreate, without the interference of birth control.

The connection I see between Clay’s Ark and Medical Apartheid is that each group is judged for having children. While Keira is understanding and open to the idea of having children, as Fannie was, Rane and the doctor who took Fannie’s uterus without her consent are judgmental over the children who each respective group is having, and they think it would be better to not have children or not allow someone to have children. While the children who are born infected with the organism seem to be doing fine physically, Rane still judges them for their appearance and actions. In the same vein, even though Fannie had not had any children and worked hard to make a living, the doctor still saw her as procreating too much, which is the same attitude we get from Barbara Harris’ quote. The use of the term “litter” by Harris also connects to the way in which Rane repeatedly refers to the children as animals. By equating children to litters of dogs both Rane and Harris are able to dehumanize them. By taking away someone’s reproductive rights, in either case, they would have their autonomy taken away from them as well.

Music Therapy

If someone were to try to put together a timeline for all of music history since the beginning of time, they wouldn’t. It would stretch around the world who knows how many times. What I’m trying to say is that music has been a part of human culture since the actual start of time. A simple drumbeat, or a simple rock smashing against another rock, to streaming 6 different studio albums in the matter of 5 minutes. Music has come so far and the way we get it also. There’s always one thing that music does though and that is affect your mood and the way you are feeling at that moment. Healthline has a great article on their website that informs readers about the fact music, whether it be sad sounding or upbeat, can alter your mood in a positive manner. Researchers and scientists have been doing tests all over the world focusing on the memorable experiences and emotions felt while listening to sad songs or upbeat songs.

A study that came from the Journal of Consumer Research stated that people tend to listen to sad music when they are experiencing a loss or grief in their life. This is because the music could be filling up that missing spot that they lost in them or they found something or someone through music that makes them feel less alone. Whatever the case may be, it is apparent that humans are attracted to sad music to make them feel better during times of struggle. Of course, however, not everyone reacts the same way and it is also true that many people are actually more sad while listening to sad music, which still could be helping them depending on their mental situation at that time. Other researchers found the results that shows the enormous amount of joy that can come from upbeat music. In 2013, the Journal of Positive Psychology published a study that stated it could take up to two weeks for music to completely boost your happiness and mood. Similarly, a 2015 review from The Lancet says that patients who listened to music before, during, or after the surgery experienced less stress and anxiety than the patients who didn’t care for the music. It just so happens that those patients also didn’t even need as much pain medication. Parkinsons, strokes, dementia, and much more are proven to be diseases where music therapy can be effectively used as treatment. The World Journal of Psychiatry did 25 tests and now can truthfully say that music is proven to reduce depression and anxiety, as well as improve overall quality of life and personal self esteem.

While I’ve mostly been focusing on talking about listening to music, it is also proven that creating music can also have major impacts on mood and self esteem. In the United Kingdom, there is a unique orchestra where people with dementia are actually together making beautiful music. The research shows music gives people something to do to make themselves happy. Creating something like music can boost so many neurons in your brain and actually change the way you feel right when you listen to it. To me, that’s the most fascinating part about music is what it does for people mentally and emotionally. The fact that sounds put together in an artistic way can elevate your life is the most cool form of science in my opinion. 

Can it actually change your mood? As mentioned earlier, even cavemen stomping their feet and smashing rocks making sounds and simple beats can feel the positive effects of listening and/or creating music. Musicians today are so passionate about what they do and that inspires me that something they can create with their imagination and creativity can in turn elevate the quality of their own life. Although not everyone is affected by music in the same ways as others, everyone has that one song that you turn on in the shower and belt the lyrics to because it just feels right. For this reason I love music and I appreciate the fact it will continue to impact people’s lives everyday.


After writing my last blog post and re-reading some things in the book Zulus by Percival Everett, I started remembering all the things in this book that I found extremely interesting. We read this book towards the beginning of the semester, so I sort of forgot about it until now. Going back and looking at this book I started thinking about the word “Value”. The definition of value as a noun by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the monetary worth of something” and the definition of this same word as a verb is “to consider or rate highly”. What I was thinking about is the value of a human. Do humans really value other humans? In the books and articles that we have read it really does not seem like we do. Especially in the medical world because we have read about so much discrimination and racism. Why do we not value each other’s lives? 

In the book Zulus on page 105 it says “Everything around her was skin, like bark on a tree and she was not adipose, but meristem tissue. She was life and they should beg her forgiveness.” And then later down on this page Body-woman Rima was talking to her and she said to Alice “you are a vehicle and nothing more”. This woman is here tearing down Alice and saying that she is only a “vehicle” and her life has no meaning other than to reproduce. Alice is trying to stay positive and says she is meristem tissue. Adipose tissue is a fatty tissue that stores energy in the form of fat and cushions and insulates the body. Meristem tissue is found where growth takes place and it gives rise to similar cells. Alice is trying to say that she is not just some fatty tissue that does almost nothing. She is the tissue that is special and can reproduce. Her life has meaning. She is trying to value her life while the rebels are not valuing her at all. They just want to use her body. Like Body-woman Rima said, she is a vehicle that they can use, and they do not think she is anything more than that. No one values her as a human and throughout the whole book everyone is tearing her down. However, she knows she has value.

In Zone One by Colson Whitehead, once the disease had infected a person then they no longer had any value. Once a person is infected, they are bound to be killed. They cannot be saved after they are infected. Something in this book that I did find very interesting is when Mark sort of creates a story for the stragglers before he has to get rid of them. He tries to give these people value. They once were normal people with normal jobs, and they should have all had value. But once they were infected, they were as good as dead and their lives meant absolutely nothing because they were dangerous. This is a bit different than Alice in Zulus because they have no choice but to try and rid the world of these zombies. While for Alice they chose not to value her as a person. 

In an article I read called Grave Robbing, Black Cemeteries, and the American Medical School by Allison C. Meier, it talks about students in medical schools who stole the bodies of African Americans to use for dissections. These cemeteries were often not protected because most of the people buried in these cemeteries were poor and usually African American. The bodies of African Americans, like it said in the article, “were involuntarily used in medicine”. African Americans all throughout medical history have been treated like test subjects instead of humans. The families of these people thought their loved ones were still buried in those graves and little did they know, their loved one was actually lying on a medical table in some college being cut up into pieces. 

Humans do not value other humans. I will never understand this. We are all humans and just because someone doesn’t look like your standards or is overweight, or even black does not mean they should be put down. An African American has a family just like everyone else and works to make a living just like anyone else. They are human and they deserve to be valued. Doctors seem to have a very bad history of not respecting people. Men, women, and even children. Doctors think they can test on whoever they want without consent. These doctors do not seem to think about anyone but themselves. Everyone should understand the worth of another human and think highly of them. Everyone has value and we should not let terrible people ruin our value. I think a huge problem in our world is not valuing each other. We all need to understand that we are all equal and each one of us has value. Everyone needs to be a little more like Mark and try to understand someone else’s life.