That Black Person: A Self-Reflection

The course epigraph for ENGL 101 Literature, Medicine, and Racism is “My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.” by Dionne Brand. Meaning, during this course, as readers and thinkers, we need to realize and bring attention to situations that one may have not noticed before. With that being said before entering this class, I had already created a preconceived notion that my classmates, even possibly my professor, would have an ignorant mindset. Would they genuinely understand a heavy topic such as racism, when they have a privileged lifestyle? However, as the classed developed, and we began having discussions, I realized my judgments were wrong. My classmates were openminded and understanding people. That Professor McCoy was mindful of the topic while still including the challenges that came with talking about racism. Furthermore, as my judgments were debunked, my focus was redirected. I started to connect with the characters in the novels, feeling as if a piece of my identity had been written. Though with those connections came an unimaginable burden, that changed me from a speaker to a listener. I changed because I did not want to become “that black person,” meaning I did not want to carry the African American culture on my back, nor did I want to continue to bring the topic back to race and ethnicity. Overall, my transitions in the classroom have changed me as a person and allowed my burdens to be released. 

Furthermore, my connections with the characters in the book have brought to light the hidden issues we have in society. With the assignment to notice on my hands, I realized that every author for our reading in the course is African American. My first initial thought was irony, its ironic that every author is African American, and was I the only one who noticed this characteristic. With me noticing this, I asked, why? Why would Dr. McCoy specifically make all the authors in this course, African Americans? I came to the answer that racism and oppression is a systemic issue. I say that because when looking at the books, Home by Toni Morrison, Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem by Marilyn Nelson, Zulus by Percival Everett, and Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington each of these sources reveals that no matter what time period oppression and racism is a constant behavior.

With that being said, there is a clear indication with each reading it creates a timeline that shows the continuation of oppression and racism, mostly with African Americans. Starting with Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem by Marilyn Nelson, a story about a man named Fortune, who was a slave freed from slavery by death. Fortune was a “father, husband, a baptized Christian, and a slave” (Nelson,12). Nelson took us, readers, through the story of Fortune’s bones, how they started in possession of his master Dr. Porter to now being in the hands of Mattatuck Museum. “His bones say only that he served and died, that he was useful, even into death, stripped of his name, his story, and his flesh.” (Nelson, 13). This book shows a glimpse of the continuum of oppression of African Americans in the late 1700s into the 1800s. That when it came to slaves, they were only needed for labor, and unfortunately for Fortune, his use continued for other purposes.  In the novel, Home by Toni Morrison, which goes back to the 1950s and shows how traumatic the Korean War was and how African Americans were experimented on. Not only the novel touch on the experimentation of African Americans and the Korean war but the culture in the south with segregation, discrimination, and racism. In Frank Money’s trip to rescue his sister from experimentation, he encounters a family that has experienced police brutality. “Drive-by cop… He had a cap pistol. Eight years old, running up and down the sidewalk pointing it. Some redneck rookie thought his dick was underappreciated by his brother cops.” “You can’t just shoot a kid, said Frank. Cops shoot anything they want. This here’s a mob city” (Morrison, 31). This passage shows the mere control white people during this time have over African Americans, having the ability to shoot a young child to prove and earn respect. Looking at Morrison and Nelson, there is a notion of a transition of positions for African Americans, but the treatment stayed the same.

Now with looking at the past, it is only right to look at the future. Likewise, with the past, the future still holds the characteristics of oppression. In the novel, Zulus by Percival Everett it looked into a potential future that may lie ahead. In the novel Zulus, there is a society that was created years after a thermonuclear war, where people get their daily cheese, crackers, and egg substitute mix packages out of a truck. And if one goes against the rules of the government, they are considered a rebel. However, with this novel, oppression is not defined by color but ability, weight, and looks. Everett uses terms such as “fat women,” “the little man,” “the little women,” “large black male,” all describing the characters he introduces, intentionally oppressing them. They all have names, Alice Achitophel, Kevin Peters, Theodore Theodore, and Lucinda Knotes, but the author decides to describe them by their insecurity. I feel as Everett is saying what everyone is thinking, as people, we use one another’s outside appearances, to talk about one another even though we all have names. Additionally, when looking at the narrator, Alice Achitophel is a 300-pound lady who may be the last woman alive who is not sterile. Alice escapes the city and seeks refuge in the rebel camp due to her mischievous actions, and for the possible sake, she may be pregnant. Alice arrives at the camp, and she travels with her boss and his friends, who are connected to the rebel camp. When the rebel camp confirms Alice’s ability to conceive children, they put her into a room with no windows, only white walls and a bed, no connection with the outside world. “I want out of here… That’s not possible. Don’t misread your position, Alice Achitophel. Your condition is hardly one for which you can claim credit and it is this fact we bear in mind in our gauging of you. You are a vehicle and nothing more, an any woman, and you just happen to have been raped, you instead of some other unfortunate. It was fat luck, Alice, and no promise of specialness of yours. You will be treated as the thing you are and we will take the life you offer. It is as simple as that.” (Everett, 105). Even though Everett is a black man who has likely experienced oppression, made it known that African Americans are not the only people to experience cruel treatment.  

There is a clear notion that the past and future societies changed because of the environment around them. But what about now? Has our society in the present changed? As a history major, I have realized the main saying is, “we learn the past, so we do not repeat history.” Well, in the book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington shows how, as a country, we continuously do the same thing without consciously knowing it. Washington connects the past and present, giving a timeline of what American has been like when it comes to racism and oppression. At the beginning of the book, Washington starts with colonial times and uses the example of Dr. Sims’ passion for caring and curing women’s disorders. “… each surgical scene was a violent struggle between the slaves and physicians, and each women’s body was a bloodied battleground. Each naked, unanesthetized slave woman had to be forcibly restrained by the other physicians through her shrieks of agony as Sims determinedly sliced, then sutured her genitalia. The other doctors, who could, fled when they could bear the horrific scenes no longer. It fell to the women to restain one another.” (Washington, 2). When reading this passage, I realized slavery had hit more boundaries than I thought, for an African American, I did not even know, which makes me think how many others do not either. You cannot learn from something you do not know. Fast forward to the 2000s, HIV/AIDS has become the third leading cause of death for young adult African Americans, and there is a consistent pattern with novel surgical technologies when it comes to African Americans. Washington compares Sims vesicovaginal-fistula research on black slaves to now poor black women are least likely to benefit from surgery. “Today’s highly visible role of blacks testing heart-transplantation technology parallels a deluge of medical-journal articles documenting how blacks are less likely than whites to receive high-tech cardiac interventions once they are perfected and become the standard of care” (Washington, 349). Meaning as an African American woman, I am more likely to be tested on for further investment in science for white people. So for the patients, John Quinn and Robert Tools, black men tested with the artificial heart were only to benefit white Americans, not black Americans? So the oppression and racism continued, Dr. Harry Bailey once said: “ was cheaper to use niggers than cats, because they were everywhere and cheap experimental animals…” Overall, I have realized that my position in America is that I am no more than a guinea pig; someone made for the benefits of others. Slavery still exists; it is just not seen. 

Without a doubt,  noticing the authors were all black, there had to be a reason why. Furthermore, the answer is that they are laying out the past, present, and future of American society. White Americans were taking people of color across the sea unwillingly, then forcing them to work without profit. Nevertheless, once slavery ends war and experimentations begin, its more straightforward to use a black man; it is cheaper and more accessible. People of color are here to help you live. I realized I got so connected with characters and events because it hit home. I have the knowledge now to think that my ill mother may be just another experiment and that doctors could have helped my father while he was on his death bed. I questioned that maybe my life is only for others, but then I stopped and realized America is not America without black people. America is nothing without me or any black person. Percival Everett, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Nelson, and Harriet A. Washington are those black people, who speak out, make everything uncomfortable, and I realized that is okay. It is okay to be “that black person” because who else will? My job is to notice and help others notice, as well. My burden has been set free, thank you to the authors that made me realize, my life and voice matters.

Right State of Mind

Earlier in the semester, I wrote a blog post named Having a Cup of Tea, and it talked on how the video called Tea and Consent touched on the issues of consent in the novel Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler. As I looked back, I realized that there was not just an issue on consent in the novel but an issue of sexual consent. In the video, it only speaks on a person giving verbal yes or no and if they are in the right frame of mind to give consent. With this, I ask, was Kiera in Clay’s Ark, in the right state of mind? Did she make the right decision?

In the Tea and Consent video, it uses a cup of tea as a metaphoric symbol that represents sexual intercourse. Throughout the video, it goes through a step by step description for each scenario when it comes to having sexual intercourse. For example, if you are making a cup of tea and the person is unresponsive, do not make them a cup of tea and do not ask the question, “do you want a cup of tea?”. In no way can an unresponsive person answer due to the fact they are unresponsive. Do not force tea down someone’s throat if they cannot speak for themselves; most likely, they do not want the tea. Another is if you make someone a cup of tea and ask if they want a cup of tea and they accept it, then they want a cup of tea. If you make someone a cup of tea and they say no, do not force that person to drink the tea. As well as if you make the tea and the person says yes but later says no, still do not force tea down their throat.
Now when looking at Clay’s Ark and knowing the guidelines of the Tea and Consent video, there is a notion that maybe one of the characters gave ideal action or verbal consent, but in reality, gave consent in the wrong state of mind. In Clays’s Ark, Blake and his twin daughters Kiera and Rane, are captured by a group that holds an infectious disease that can be transmitted by touch. The disease is an organism that will co-host with one’s body and gives that person heighten human abilities, but with the disease has such a substantial effect on the body, older people tend to not survive through the transition. Kiera is the first of her kind to come into contact with the group due to her having leukemia. Because of her leukemia, if she gets infected, her chances of living are unknown. With this organism, Blake and Rane were both infected nonconsensually, expect Kiera. “She reached out and took Eli’s hands. She had been waiting to do that for so long. The hands first pulled back from her, but did not pull away…the hands closed on her hands, giving in finally, and in spite of everything, she smiled.” (Butler, 552-553). Keria is a 16-year-old girl with leukemia, who just experienced being kidnapped with her family. She has been aware they have a disease that can heighten one’s human abilities, and if given to her, it could increase or decrease her chances of survival. I feel as maybe Kiera understands the possibilities, but did not analyze them. Kiera was allowed to survive. Eli, the leader of the group, was giving her that chance. However, with time, Kiera developed feelings, which lead to the skeptical decisions shes made. “I know part of the reason I want you is that I’m…dying. But it is you I want. Not just a warm body. Before you I didn’t want anyone. There were some guys who wanted me, even after I got sick, but I never.. I thought I would never…” (Butler, 560). I have noticed throughout the semester in class discussions when one goes through traumatic experiences, everything to mood, actions, and thoughts change. As humans, we never honestly know what we want, especially after extreme events as the ones Kiera has gone through. Maybe she feels this is her only option, but did she choose the right option?

Looking at both Tea and Consent Video, and Clay’s Ark, I feel as maybe Kiera allowed the situation to cloud her judgment. I think Kiera is the unresponsive person who, in no way, is cable to make a big decision as such but makes it anyway. Out of everyone, she had the option not to be infected. However, she decided to be, all because of a guy she started to love. If I had the opportunity to ask her, I would ask, What about your father or sister whos been held under their will? Was she in the right state in mind? With Kiera, I think she was not in the right mind due to all the traumatic events, and love. Love makes us humans do the unthinkable, but love makes it think it is doable, that it is right. In the end, Keira survived, but it came with a price, the death of her family. Overall, I know that everything from the outside world, to the world within us affects everything we do. It is just up to us as humans to understand the situation and learn how to walk away.

The Trauma of the Black Man

What is Trauma? Karen Onderko, a Director of Research and Education, explains what trauma means in her article “What is Trauma?”. “Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences.” Now when looking at trauma, the authors Toni Morrison and Percival Everett have different perspectives but at the same time, have characters that connect. Those characters would have the ability to comfort and confront one another during their hard times.

In Zulus By Percival Everett, has a character by the name of Kevin Peters. Throughout this novel, Kevin Peters shares an uncommon type of relationship with the main character Alice Achitophel. Their relationship to the untrained eye is weird due to both of their traumatizing moments that they encountered during the thermonuclear war. Kevin Peters expresses to Alice about the day when the nuclear bomb went off. “My family, my parents, and sisters were not underwater, were not exposed to biting fish: they were sitting in the kitchen, eating breakfast. There was no sound, no flash, just bloating and peeling of flesh, the melting eyes. I wasn’t affected by the rays or the bomb or whatever it was; my fate was the worse, having to just watch. I was ten years old… I tried to kill myself, tired to cut open my chest, but either I was too stupid to do it proficiently or I really couldn’t do it. I can still remember their screams ringing in my ears as I pulled the knife across my chest, wondering why I was alive and cursing God for not killing me too.” (Everett, 121-122). Looking back at the definition, we can see that Kevin Peters’s response to the trauma was trying to kill himself, to end the misery of seeing his family die right in front of him. We can also see with his relationship with Alice how he cannot feel a full range of emotions and experiences when Alice Achitophel expresses that she is in love with him. “I appreciate your feeling…All of what has happened is very strange and bizarre and I accept it only because this is a sick planet. Disease has its surprises. You take time and collect yourself, come to terms with things, as much as possible, then think about love. Think about if it fits in this world” (Everett,152). With the passage, I see the pain, the pure pain Kevin Peters is holding inside. When you have been with someone as long as Kevin and Alice been especially with traumatic realities, one would think love would be the only thing left, but for Kevin, I see he only thinks he deserves death. Due to his whole family dying, maybe he does not want to get close to love to only lose it again. Maybe Kevin is trying to persuade Alice not to love him, so it does not give him a reason to love her. Everett uses Kevin Peters as an example of how trauma affects the black male in society, he no longer feels as he belongs or deserves life or love, but only to face the traumatic situations and end his life in death.

In the novel Home by Toni Morrison, Morrison takes a different route of explaining trauma with her character Frank Money. Frank joined the army to escape his lifestyle down south, leaving behind his loved younger sister Cee. By joining the army came disturbing experiences and actions that he portrayed in. During the novel, Frank has theses moments of flashbacks. One flashback was what he saw during the war with a relief guard and a young Korean girl. “She smiles, reaches for the soldier’s crotch, touches it. It surprises him. Yum-yum? As soon as I look away from her hand to her face, see the two teeth missing teeth, the fall of her black hair above eager eyes, he blows her away… Still, I knew there were a few corrupt ones who were not content with the usual girls for sale and took to marketing children. Thinking back on it now. I think the guard felt more than disgust. I think he felt tempted and that is what he had to kill.” (Morrison, 95-96) Morrison gives a clear view of what Frank experienced during the war. That there was no remorse for even a hungry child, who knew no better, but then Frank tells another story. “I have to say something right now, I have to tell the whole truth. I lied to you and I lied to me. I hid it from you because I hid it from me. I felt so proud grieving over my dead friends… My mourning was so thick it completely covered my shame… I shot the Korean girl in her face, I am the one she touched. I am the one who saw her smile. I am the one she said “Yum-yum” to. I am the one she aroused. A child. A wee little girl. I didn’t think. I didn’t have to. Better she should die. How could I let her live after she took me down to a place I didn’t know was in me? How could I like myself, even be myself if I surrendered to that place where I unzip my fly and let her taste me right then and there?” (Morrison, 133-134) Morrison made it clear that sometimes trauma is not from the outside world but from within ourselves, our world. Frank’s past explains why he cannot cope; he lied, and he was so caught up in other unknown emotions he allowed himself to stoop down low, even for him. Morrison made me, as a reader, realize that trauma is not just solely from actions from the outside world or other people, but from the lies we tell ourselves, and by the actions, we partake in.

Overall, both Kevin and Frank have commonalities between them. Kevin and Frank have experienced traumatic events that have led them to the inability to feel or experience emotions. They both partake in a relationship with women, with no intention of being serious. Also, both Kevin and Frank cannot bear the truth of what has happened to them. Lastly, both Kevin and Frank are black men living in a white society. With that being said, as a reader, I think if Kevin and Frank met, Kevin would see himself in Frank, and Frank would see himself in Kevin. I say this because of the background of the African American community. African Americans have experienced so much torture, pain, and humiliation that no other race can relate. African Americans have an extra sense when it comes to our culture and community, as black people, we are the only one who knows how one another feels. If Kevin and Frank met, I think, they would not share words only glares like the slaves on ships who knew what lifestyle lay ahead.

The Traditional Grave

Continuing more conversation with the article from Huff Post, “Up To 7,000 Bodies Found Buried Beneath University Of Mississippi Medical Center” by Nina Golgowski. Which talks about the discovery of a grave with as many of 7,000 bodies beneath the University Of Mississippi Medical Center. That was apart of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum until it was shut down. Dr. Molly Zuckerman explains more in the article about the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum institutionalized by up to 35,000 patients between 1855-1935. Zuckerman continued to explain that death was a constant action, many patients died from tuberculosis, strokes, heart attack, and occasional epidemics of yellow fever and influenza, which was common during that time. Also, due to the grave being found, people wanted to find their ancestors and complete their family lineage. With that being said, before I questioned, should one be allowed to examine and test unidentified bones, for a higher purpose? Now, I want to bring to light how increased death and trauma leads to the practice of mass graves.

Connecting the article from Huff Post with the novel Zulus by Percival Everett, there is a clear connection with mass graves and how people are buried in each story. In Zulus, Alice Achitophel, the main character, tells a story through her eyes after a nuclear war that has left the world in shambles and left the people traumatized, including herself. Through her journey throughout this book, there are a few moments where Alice is confronted with the practice of mass graves. With the thermonuclear war, Alice notices the difference in grave areas. “..piled high with hermetically sealed lightweight body boxes”(Everett, 169). Meaning when one passes on if their body was exposed to the nuclear explosion, they are put into a hermetic seal, which prevents the body from releasing toxic gases. The tradition of putting dead bodies in coffins in the ground has changed to piling bodies on top of each other in hermetically sealed boxes to persevere as much life as possible, instead of respectfully, putting the dead to rest. Alice realizes that significant moral value when her boss Sue Kabnis and host Geraldine Rigg’s real purpose were at the hospital. “She watched as they dug a grave and she found the sight thrilling, then she felt deeply hurt that Sue Kabnis and Geraldine Rigg hadn’t trusted her after all, that there was no smuggling of medicine, that Sue Kabnis’ drawer was probably full of every pill, capsule, and tablet she had collected, that the real underground activity was burial of the dead.”(Everett, 223). Furthermore, Alice Achitophel realizes the real reason why she was reporting names. I feel like in society; we put bodies in coffins and bury them underground for closure and comfort. Coffins allow the one who has past to be comfortable and protected from any disturbances. The tradition allows people to feel like they have taken care of and have respect for their loved ones. However, at the same time, there is a plot twist that can be applied that is portrayed in the article.

When looking back at the article, the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum Center created this mass graves for many reasons. One reason is due to the typical death and increase amount of patients, they needed space to take care of others entering the center. Additionally, the Asylum Center could have buried people for sanitation purposes, multiple people dying at once due to diseases like yellow fever, flu, and tuberculosis, which are highly contagious. Mass graves allow people to prevent certain diseases from spreading. The plot twist for Zulus is maybe this hospital was a State Lunatic Asylum Center, and people who were cared for had diseases from before or after the nuclear war. There is a possibility both mass graves in Zulus and at the University Of Mississippi Medical Center were for sanitation purposes to limit the exposer of contagious illnesses and gases to the earth. As well as with war, death is prevalent, and a need for disposal of bodies. What if Zulus is our future? That may be our society will lose our morals and traditions due to war and disease. What if we are awaiting the trauma and tragedy that happened in Zulus? Or have we already experienced it in our own ways?


When I think about the word bones, I automatically think of the TV Show Bones. In the show, Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who works at the Jeffersonian Institution and also writes books, has an impressive ability to read clues from victims’ bones. Consequently, law enforcement calls her to assist with investigations when remains are so badly decomposed, burned, or destroyed that standard identification method are useless. Brennan often finds herself teamed with Special Agent Seeley Booth, a former Army sniper who mistrusts science and scientists when it comes to solving crimes but who has developed respect for Brennan, both professionally and personally. With this tv show, there is no questioning the purpose of Dr. Brennan “Bones” and Agent Booth; they are alerted that there has been a dead body decomposed, which leads to a murder case, that they need to close for the greater good. With that being said, a question arises. Should scientists be allowed to examine newly discovered bones in order to identify them and turn their death into a museum memorial area? In the book Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem by Marilyn Nelson and the article “Up To 7,000 Bodies Found Buried Beneath University Of Mississippi Medical Center” by Nina Golgowski. Together we will see if scientists should have that allowance to identify bones.

In the article “Up To 7,000 Bodies Found Buried Beneath University Of Mississippi Medical Center” by Nina Golgowski speaks on how researchers found a grave with as many of 7,000 bodies beneath the University of Mississippi Medical Center on their campus. It is noted that land was apart of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum until it was shut down around 80 years ago. Dr. Molly Zuckerman speaks with Nina on how the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum institutionalized up to 35,000 patients between 1855-1935. Additionally, when the center was open, death was common, many patients died from tuberculosis, strokes, heart attack, and occasional epidemics of yellow fever and influenza, which was common during that time. However, one of the biggest things about this article is people wanting to find their ancestors on records and know what families will do when they repair their family lineage. For example, Karen Clark was able to find one of her ancestors who went through the center. “…one patient was her great-great-great grandfather, Isham Earnest, who fought in the War of 1812, a conflict between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Earnest is believed to have died at the facility sometime between 1857 and 1859. It followed Earnest being ruled “insane,” said Clark”. With this finding, came many others in hopes of finding their ancestors. In this, Dr. Molly Zuckerman wants to be able to have a research team unbury all the coffins and identify all the remains. They were planning on creating a memorial, visitors center, and genealogy research facility. There is a glaring example of discovery and the decision to examine and identify the remains to discover a bigger purpose. Why can’t researchers gain permission to ask for consent? Give remains to the family so they can peacefully be put to rest.

Another example is the book Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem by Marilyn Nelson. Nelson takes her readers into the background of Fortune before his bones were in the Connecticut Museum. Fortune was a husband, father, baptized Christan, and slave. He works the land hard, from the examination of his bones, he was a strong man, but due to work, his back broke, and he endured pain for many years. Nelson makes it clear that he was a useful man, in both in life and death. A slave, stripped of his name. Slaves in Waterbury were buried in one of the town’s cemeteries, but when Fortune died, he was not buried. Fortune’s owner, Dr. Porter, was known as a bonesetter for many years and finally got an opportunity to study from a skeleton. With his bones, he studied them, inscribing them with their scientific names. “In profound and awful intimacy, I enter Fortune, and he enters me.” (Nelson, 19) It is with the irony that a slave master examines his slave’s bones, knowing the pain and hard labor he’s put him through to only dehumanizing him even more by taking his bones. Throughout generations, Fortune bones have been studied and used has first-hand medical training. His bones were used so much, to the point Fortune’s name was forgotten for a century. His bones were referred to as “Larry.” Even after the Porter family gave the bones to the Mattatuck Musume, he was still heavily examined, and researchers found Fortune’s names. Researchers learned he died from something quick, a sudden injury like whiplash. He died freely. With all this information, the question remains, should scientists be allowed to tests on bones?

As I have analyzed both readings, I have realized researches should test for the identity of the unknown remains, but they should give them back to the family to lay them to rest. I came to this conclusion due to the need to give back their voice. With no name, no identity there is no voice. When you attach a name to the remains, the family can give that person a voice and fill the lost family lineage. When it comes to the article, I can agree on identifying the remains but not turning the discovery into a museum to gain profit. When the bones no longer become personal but profitable, that’s where I disagree. With Fortunes Bones, his whole story has been about personal gain for others. A man whos lost his voice. He is a prime example of what we, as humans, should not do to one another. The dead should be at peace if they should not be, why do we say RIP… Rest in Peace.

Zone One Has a Meaning

During my time in ENGL 101 with Dr. Beth McCoy, I have had an eye-opening experience with the reading she has assigned, especially with the novel Zone One by Colson Whitehead. I’ve expressed, even a few classmates expressed the difficulty of the book. Zone One takes place over the course of three days; people throughout the novel are infected by a virus that turns them into zombies, which can be transmitted by scratch or a bite. Also, the main character Mark Spitz becomes a volunteer to take care of the leftover and so-called “less harmful” zombies called “skels.” The reason why this novel is difficult to grasp as a reader is due to the context and organization of the story. While the book is primarily told in real-time, Whitehead has Mark Spitz go through these random flashbacks throughout his time in reality. As a reader, that’s confusing for me to decipher between reality and the past, which leads to context. If I am already confused about reality and time, how will I fully grasp the plot and meaning behind the reading?

But recently, I was able to grasp an idea of the true meaning of Zone One. In the blog post, “The Pressing Problem of American Income Inequality: An Analysis of Zone One and the Washington Post” by Jack Mckeown, which connects Zone One and The Washington Post article “The Painful Truth about Teeth” by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. In the blog post, Mckeown notes both readings demonstrate the social tensions in American society induced by economic inequality. With the Washington Post, Mckeown analyzes how Jordan and Sullivan focus on a working-class American citizen Dee Matello. Matello visited the free dental clinic in the Wicomico Civic Center with a thousand other people due to the lack of insurance from an employer or government aid, as well as the expensiveness of dental care. Matello expresses how there is a great divide between the upper class and the lower class Americans. “The country is way too divided between well-off people and people struggling for everything — even to see the dentist,” she said. “And the worst part is, I don’t see a bridge to cross over to be one of those rich people.” If the working class has no opportunities to have to progress economically, that starts the issues between social classes. Mckeown’s expresses that “The article additionally notes the complexities inherent in the American rich-poor divide. The pervasiveness of the U.S. hegemonic socioeconomic ideology that values the affluent over the working-class has influenced the economically disadvantaged to hierarchize one another.” He uses the example within the article “If I see someone with perfect teeth, I think, ‘Oh, man, they’re out of my league,’ ” Matello said. “Us poor people ‘status’ each other. We’re like, ‘Ah, dude, you don’t have any teeth!’ Or if you see someone with little jagged yellow stubs, you think, ‘Oh, man, you have lived here your whole life, haven’t you?’ ” Overall, when looking at the examples of The Washington Post and Mckeown’s analyzation of the article, there is a clear example of The U.S wage gap, which leads to the social divide within the country.

The Washington Post and Mckeown’s thoughts lead to the connection with Zone One and Whitehead’s purpose of the story. Mckeown uses the characters, Gary and Kaitlyn, to show the socioeconomic ideology that is portrayed in the article. Within the novel, Gary comes from an unprivileged background before the plague. With that being said, when he had to eliminate the skels, he visualizes them as the upper class and channeling his resentment toward them. Mckeown uses the example “They were the proper citizens who had stymied and condemned him and his brothers all his life, excluding them from the festivities…Where were they now, their judgments, condescending smiles?”. Saying even with this new world of equality there past life still affects their feelings toward the ones who are privileged. On the other hand, Kaitlyn, who is a “well-to-do college survivors,” envisions the skels as people who are inferior to her, stereotypically visioning them as the economically less fortunate. “She aimed at the rabble who nibbled at the edge of her dream: the weak-willed smokers, deadbeat dads and welfare cheats, single moms incessantly breeding…and those who only had themselves to blame for their ridiculous credit-card debt.” Both characters note that the economic disparity that was created between the groups of Americans lasted beyond the crisis.

Furthermore, using “The Pressing Problem of American Income Inequality: An Analysis of Zone One and the Washington Post” by Jack Mckeown to bridge a gap between Zone One by Colson Whitehead and Washington Post “The Painful Truth about Teeth” by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, there is a clear indication of the economic gap between classes, which affects how the classes socially interact with one another. I realized that not only there an issue between the working class and upper class, but there are also socio-economic issues between African Americans and White Americans. In the film Letter to the President (2005), many African American artists, politicians, and journalists speak on the period of Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush and how drugs were implemented and impacted the black community. The film expresses that crack cocaine and weaponry were implemented by the Nicaraguan drug rebels that were assisted by the U.S government. In many ways for African Americans, this was their only source of income and some only way to escape reality and hardships. With cocaine becoming one of the primary sources of income for black people, it begins the increased arrest rate for the possession of drugs. But the main concern was, why was the majority arrested and pulled over African American? Racial profiling. U.S Police would make any excuses to pull over someone of African descent if the profile is even remotely close. In some cases, police would accuse someone of being a drug dealer if you matched these ceratin requirements:
-Map in the car with a destination circled on it.
-Fabric softener in the car, trying to mask the smell of the drug.
-Fast food wrappers on the floor, meaning the person doesn’t stop, they only ate in the car, “afraid to leave the drug load.”
-High pulse rate, if someone had a high pulse rate it was because they were afraid or nervous of the cops finding the drug load in the car.
-Black or Hispanic.
With this operation going on, this gave police the legal right to search one’s car, even though this is illegal. It is the idea that because of slavery and other factors apart from American history, African Americans did not have the opportunities as others. Due to the lack of opportunities leads to drug use and drug dealing as their only way of income, even when some who don’t participate in those illegal activities will still get accused because of their skin color.

With the Washington Post, Jack Mckeown ’s Blog Post and the film Letter to the President gave me a reader who is struggling with the context of Zone One, realize that there may be more behind Whitehead’s story. That the silver lining is the social and economic difference between people in the same country. In the Washington Post, one is judged on how their teeth appear and directly associates it with their financial wealth. Mckeown makes a note of that in Zone One with Gary and Kaitlyn’s perceptions of skels. Overall I realized when society moves on and becomes equal; the past will always infringe on one’s decision. That someone’s background creates that person’s outlook on life and people. And that one will not always have the same opportunities, treatment, and stability as others. That sometimes you have to “Fuck it… and walk into the sea of the dead”.

What is Uninformed Consent?

Continuing the conversation of consent, I have realized consent has more layers than the simple, informed discussion that leads to a yes or no reply or signature. I am aware that as a society, we struggle with the idea of what consent truly means and how to use it in every circumstance. With that being, when someone asks the question, “What do you want in a relationship?” most reply with the simple “I do not know” then, a follow-up question occurs with “Well if you know what you want.. What don’t you want?” Most likely, after that question, the majority of people have a laundry list of characteristics and negatives of what they do not want in a partner. That laundry list leads to one finding what they do want, its a start, so why can’t we do that for consent? 

One example of uninformed consent is Madrigal v Quilligan, a class-action lawsuit against L.A. County doctors, the state, and the federal government, which included ten working-class Mexican-origin women who had been coerced into sterilization after undergoing cesarean deliveries. In the article No Más Bebés,” revives 1975 forced-sterilization lawsuit in L.A” Consuelo Hermosillo, one of the ten expresses her story of being forced into sterilization. 

“At 23, Hermosillo was having her third child with her husband. But before she could be seen by the doctor, she was asked to sign papers consenting to sterilization.

“You better sign those papers or your baby is going to die,” a woman told her in Spanish, recalled Hermosillo, a native of Veracruz, Mexico. “As soon as you sign, they’ll take you in.”

Hermosillo didn’t want to sign. She was too young and wanted to speak with her husband first. Leaving the hospital, however, she carried the last child she would ever be able to conceive.

“I don’t remember signing the consent form,” said Hermosillo, now 66. “They decided for me.” 

Without a doubt, this is nonconsensual due to the language barrier, powerful words, and the sensitive situation of the women being pregnant. How is someone who speaks another language going to understand what is going to happen? Using pressure and the job at hand to decide on the spot is unlawful. It is noted that the demand for sterilization was to keep the immigration population under control during the 1970s. All together, we can see the intent of these doctors was malicious, and these women lost control of there bodies, and lifestyle all due to lack of communication. 

In the novel, Clay’s Ark by Octava Buttler is another example of how the idea of consent is thrown out the window. Blake and his twin daughters Kiera and Rane, are kidnapped by a group of people who withhold a disease that can be transmitted by touch. This disease has life-threating consequences. Eli and Meda, the ring leaders of the group, explain to Blake and his daughters will be given an organism that co-hosts with them. “We got together and decided that for your sake and ours, people in your position should be protected from too much truth too soon. I was the minority of one, voting for honesty… The others thought people like you wouldn’t believe the truth, that it would scare you more than necessary and you’d try harder to escape.” (Buttler, 471). Eli gives the notion that is was a group decision to kidnap people, infected them, and then later tell them the truth behind the organism. Not only is the way they are infected people is nonconsensual, but how one is infected another way consent is not a factor.

“Have I been infected?”

She turned her head to look at him, smiled sadly. “Oh yes.”

 “The Food?” 

“No. The food was just food. Me.”


“No inoculation…”

“You would have done that even if I hadn’t had the knife?” He asked 

“Yes” (Buttler, 485-86)

Buttler clearly shows that Blake and his daughter Rane have no say in wanting to receive the disease. Kidnapping is the unlawful action of taking someone with force and keeping that person in detention under their will. Now when analyzing Clay’s Ark, there is a distinct notion that consent is not even a factor due to kidnapping and giving them a disease they did not ask for. 

With the court case Madrigal v Quilligan and the novel Clay’s Ark, there is a pattern of unconfirmed consent when it comes to the people involved. That one person or group has already made the preconceived notion of making the decision to infected or alter someone else’s life. The characteristics of unconfirmed consent are also shown in the book Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. Ebb Cade, an African American truck driver, was in an accident that left the majority of his bones broken, but he was able to survive this accident, but with his survival came a price. Doctor Robert S. Stone expresses this story with his colleague Doctor Karl Z. Morgan, “he was rushed to the military hospital .. and he had multiple fractures. Almost all his bones were broken, and we were surprised he was alive when he got to the hospital; we did not expect him to be alive the next morning. So this was an opportunity we’ve been waiting for. We gave him large doses by injection of plutonium-239” (Washington, 216). Plutonium-239 is an isotope of plutonium. Plutonium-239 is the primary fissile isotope used for the production of nuclear weapons. These doctors injected a black male with a dangerous chemical at a large dose without his consent. “On April 10, without his consent and five days before setting his broken bones, military physical Jospeh Howland injected Cade with 4.7 micrograms of plutonium– forty-one times the normal lifetime exposure.” (Washington, 217) In this case, it is a clear understanding that these Doctors took advantage of this man’s life to experiment with the process of decay or reaction when plutonium en into the body. These doctors, for a matter of six months, held Cadd and tested him until Cadd one day finally escaped. Another example of how, when looking for the characteristics of what uninformed consent is, making sure the person in the vulnerable state is oblivious and unaware of the situation. 

Overall, when looking at the case of Ebb Cadd and Madrigal v Quilligan and the novel Clay’s Ark, there are three examples of uninformed consent. Each situation lack of communication about the procedure, injection, or the infection. Not only there is a lack of communication, but there is also a common thread of the people being manipulated are the minority. With Ebb Cadd and Madrigal v Quilligan both people of color, Cadd being African American and the women apart of other cases coming from Mexican descent. With Clay’s Ark, Blake being a white male in the slums, he is taken out of his standard atmosphere and made the minority, with his daughters being half white and black, they are automatically put into the minority category due there skin color.

Additionally, there is a pattern of gain out of the people who are in control of the situations. As well these people had no repercussions for there actions during these cases. When looking at the examples and the apparent notion of what uninformed consent is.  

What is informed consent?

The Sisterhood

Recently I was able to encounter the Urban Bush Women Company perform at Geneseo Wadsworth Auditorium. Urban Bush Women company is a dance company that started with the passion of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Their purpose is connecting contemporary dance and music using the text of history and cultural and spiritual traditions from the African diaspora. The company performed four dances that each had their individual while holding the overall purpose of the Urban Bush Women. One of the performances called Girlfriends (1986) shows the relationship between black women, four women, black women of all different types of body sizes, and color shade. Each part of the dance was describing an issue most black women face, their sexuality, hair, and dominance. As a viewer, you can see the dominance in noise used by the dancers’ feet or when one another gets into each other faces. When it came to sexuality, the dancers used clothing and the idea of provocative movements of the hips, thighs, and behind — using those body parts to gain attention. Looking back at the dance, it was not just about sex, dominance, and other female factors but about the relationship between women, especially black women. All the women were connected in one way or another. They would do one another hair or disagree with each other. At the end of the dance, they all burst into laughter. The dance showed the positives and negatives of the relationship between women, but most importantly, it gave an image that black women’s relationship is different from others.

Since the beginning of time, society has created stereotypes about black women. All based on how we act, what we were, and our role in society. For example, society has degraded black women solely due to her skin color and gender. With slavery, black women were mocked and sexually abused due to body type and skin color. In the book, Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington expresses how white men would have parties to mock the black women’s bodies. A black woman would have to stand naked and impersonate a chained animal. White men would first be in disgust, laugh and mock her but then turn around and be aroused by her presence. White men only acted in such a way because black women were deemed as shameless compared to European women who were claimed as modest. Not only are black women judged on skin and body, but they are also judged on actions. Black women stereotypically are seen as loud, “ghetto,” disrespectful and angry. It is giving the impression that we have no so-called “house training.” That once a black woman enters the room, there will be an automatic issue. 

Within the black community, we embrace the relationship between black women and black women itself. Black Entertainment Television (BET) has a channel called Black Entertainment Television HER, made specifically for black women and the lifestyle of black women. Another is the countless television shows and films based on black women like Girlfriends, Why Did I Get Married, Moesha, House of Payne, and Insecure. Each shows the role of the black woman in everyday society as a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a wife, and a mother. Giving the positives and negatives of the real sense of being a black woman, not the stereotypical black women that society has created. Not only are black women embraced, but in my experience, as a black woman, the relationships are solely based on love. The majority of outsiders looking in see black women as harsh and strict, but honestly, it is just tough love. I learned in college the reason why I was not allowed to do certain things, or why I am in the situation I am today is because of my family’s input. Women within my family love one another, but it does not mean they keep their comments to themselves. The only reason why women in my family are so outspoken is they want the best for one another. 

With the novel, Home by Toni Morrison, there are prime examples of how black women use tough love to there advantage when building relationships or guiding one another. Within the reading, Cee, Frank’s younger sister, got into a circumstance with a doctor who was studying eugenics, the science of improving the human population by controlling breeding to get the desired traits. With the doctor testing her, she began to lose weight, have longer menstrual cycles, and always extremely fatigued, Frank was notified by another woman in the house, and he came to take her back home. When Frank got there, Cee was near death. Frank brought her back home were a group of women nursed Cee back to health. “Cee was different. Two months surrounding by country women who loved mean had changed her. The women handled sickness as though it were an affront, an illegal invading braggart who needed whipping” (Morrison, 121). The women that Cee was surrounded by implemented tough love in a situation that was life or death only wanted Cee to come out alive and healthy. Not only was there tough love in aid of Cee’s health but in her mindset moving forward with her life. Cee and Miss Ethel discuss Cee’s choices in letting the doctor treat her like a test dummy: 

“How was I supposed to know what he was up to?”

 “Misery don’t call ahead. That’s why you have to stay awake—otherwise it just walks on in your door.” 


“But nothing. You good enough for Jesus. That’s all you need to know.” (Morrison, 122)

With both of these passages, you can see the profound nature of tough love within the black community, black women only wanting the best for the people around them. Miss Ethel was honest with Cee; her choice was not smart, and she should not belittle herself and know she is enough. Of course, Cee is defensive, but she understands the circumstances and should and will no longer tolerate being pushed around anymore. With this treatment, it starts the basis for Miss Ethel and Cee relationship. 

Therefore, when looking at black women and the relationships they have between one another is none other than the raw truth of the situation told without hesitation, but with confidence knowing will help you in the long run. It is crucial to notice that when it comes to the black community, we consistently express ourselves, always having the role of the black women shown at different stages for different reasons. It is the idea that the “stereotypical black women” are not the majority of our women. The “stereotypical black women” is a slap in the black woman’s face, putting a stigma on one makes it harder to be expected in the society and expressed in many shows like Scandal or Insecure where black women have to work ten times harder than the average. Not only is the stigma misleading and hurtful, but the assumptions opposed on black women and our relationships are as well. A stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. It is just another extension of racism.

Overall, do not judge a book by its cover. 

Making a Cup of Tea

In a college atmosphere, one of the most critical topics is consent. Making sure men and women are giving verbal, yes, and no when it comes to any circumstances, especially sexual intercourse. One of the tactics that colleges use is a video called Tea and Consent. The majority of those people who have participated in college have encountered this video. It expresses the idea of substituting sex for a cup of tea and goes through different types of scenarios. If you make someone a cup of tea and ask if they want a cup of tea and they accept it, then they want a cup of tea. If you make someone a cup of tea and they say no, do not force that person to drink the tea. As well as if you make the tea and the person says yes but later says no, still do not force tea down their throat. Finally, one of the last scenarios is if you are making a cup of tea, and the person is unresponsive. The video informs you not to make them a cup of tea and do not ask the question, “do you want a cup of tea?”. In no way can an unresponsive person answer “yes” or “no,” due to the fact they are unresponsive. Do not force tea down someone’s throat if they cannot speak for themselves; most likely, they do not want to drink the tea. Of course, at first glance, the video gives off senses of humor, and that is understandable. It is a cartoon video that substituting sex with a cup of tea to get the point of consent across. The stick figures, the black and white style, and extreme repetition introduces the humor effect. We understand the bases that “a cup of tea” is sex, and the repetitive idea is not giving a person tea if they say no. Also, not forcing tea down another’s throat due to them being unresponsive in some ways is humorous.
Not only is the video funny but informative. Takes a sensitive topic such as sexual abuse and lightens the mood. Not only is it compassionate with the subject, but it also simplifies the subject by using simple situations and connecting it with yes or no scenarios. Hence, the video has a positive impact on students, faculty, and anyone who needs knowledge about informed consent when it comes to sexual activity. Although, on the flip side, this video does not give the full effect of informed consent and the consequences for these types of scenarios. For example, the humor is celebrated in the sense of gaining one’s attention, but humor also can lead to the audience to not take the situation seriously. Saying do not pour tea down and unconscious person throat, may result in a small chuckle, but what about the notion of not forcing yourself on another? Also, there is no information about the repercussions of either person in the situation. Not only does the person who is taking advantage of or forcing themselves on another does not know the serious legal implications that follow those actions. Even so, what about the victim? They did not ask or expect the mental and physical harm that could/has been done to them. Lastly, the Consent and Tea video stereotypically gives the idea the situation is between a heterosexual relationship that the male is automatically forcing himself on the women.
When in cases, in this day and age, we have a variety of what a relationship is between two people. As a result, the video has beneficial meaning, but it leaves out an essential context for people who are involved in the circumstance. Similarly, in the novel, Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler indirectly speaks on informed consent. Butler created a disease that has inhumane repercussions. Blake and his twin daughters Kiera and Rane, are kidnapped by a group that holds an infectious illness that can be transmitted by touch. Eli and Meda, the ring leaders of the group, explain to Blake and his daughters, that they will be given an organism that co-hosts with them. It is noted that the majority of the time, only younger and stronger people survive this disease. Due to Blake being an older man and his daughter Kiera having leukemia, there is a risk for them both dying.
When infected with the organism, a person gains heighten human abilities. For example, their ability to taste, smell, read body language, see in the dark, super strength, and speed. Nonetheless, with positives come the negatives. Some of the negative symptoms are excessive perspiration, hunger, and loosing of the skin, and compulsion. With compulsion comes the uncontrollable urge to infect someone without the disease. When it comes time to become infected with the illness, only one person gives full permission to take on the condition, which is Kiera. She develops a relationship with Eli, knowing he wants to touch her but cannot due to her having leukemia. She also understands that regardless of her leukemia or this disease, she may face death. Her father and sister are scratched without the decision if they denied it or not. With this novel, you can see where the Tea and Consent video comes into play, with informed consent. The rules of Tea and Consent video are entirely violated. The “tea” is being forced down Blake and his daughter’s throats consciously, even if one accepted it wholeheartedly.
Nevertheless, the difference is that they know the repercussions of the disease, unlike the people who watch Tea and Consent video. Blake, Rane, and Kiera all know there is a possibility of death; they understand the symptoms and abilities they gain with living with this disease. However, we have to follow the complexities of the disease and the signs of compulsion. Compulsion is an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes. Eli noted that his team did everything to crash the ship and destroy the disease before it landed on Earth. With compulsion on either side, no one can have consent. Eli’s human side does not want to continue this process, but the organisms will not let him. Including Blake, Rane, and Keira, they did not ask to be kidnapped or faced with a possibly deadly infection. The importance of Clays’ Ark and Tea and Consent video is that both of them together give a clear view of what knowledge they bring to the table about consent. Clay’s Ark has no permission; the only thing the characters receive is the repercussions. Unlike the audience of the Tea and Consent video, where the audience gets scenarios of what consent is and what consent is not. The video never shows you the outcome if you partake in those particular situations.

Furthermore, on that note, I am compelled to make myself a cup of tea.

What is (Un)Informed Consent?

Adriana Straughter, Caitlin Morazzini, John Serbalik, Olivia Herring, Rachel Cohen, Semefa Agbokou

Informed consent is a challenge that the medical field faces every day. According to Harriet Washington, “Informed Consent is not a signed piece of paper but, rather, the fluid, continuous process by which a researcher informs the subject in detail of what he or she proposes to do, why it is being proposed, and what the possible consequences the experiment carries” (Washington 55). As a patient continues their treatment, so should the communication between the doctor and patient. This includes full disclosure of the risks and benefits associated with the treatment. Your doctor should always be giving you the facts. This shows a level of respect, the doctor respects you and wants to make sure you can choose what happens to your body. Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark addresses the conflict of consent among infected characters. The novel’s infectious disease influences the ambiguity in how the character’s view consent because the novel lacks a definition of consent. Rather, they grapple with this issue by the information received about the disease and other characters.  

Blake is a white male doctor; the majority of his life has been comfortable when it comes to being apart of society. With Blake’s lifestyle, there was no need for his consent because he had the authority to make his own decisions. Now Blake has been confronted with a disease; without his permission, he has been given the disease. When given the information, Blake struggles with the reality of how it changes a person, and the idea there is no cure. But being a doctor, his main goal is to help and figure out what the purpose of this disease is and how to control it. He tries to grasp this disease by doing testing and figuring out the origin of the disease. With no luck, Blake ends up having the full effect of the disease, which leads him to have extreme altercations. With the disease, compulsion takes over, this brings blake to be verbally and physically abusive towards his own daughters who he adored and wanted nothing but to keep them safe before this disease took over. Towards the end,  Blake scratches an unknown man and spreading the disease and creating an epidemic. “ I did it. Jesus!… I grabbed him, I couldn’t help it, couldn’t control it. He smelled so.. I couldn’t help it. God, I tore at him like an animal… Please, Go after him. Stop him.” (Butler,618). At this moment, Blakes’s struggle with the disease has come to an end. He understands the decisions he has to make, his compulsion is very real and too hard to control. 

Eli was one of the first to have the disease. He struggles with informed consent when he infects Meda’s mother. He infects her without telling her. He then informs Meda about what happened to her mother. However, the family on the ranch has the symptoms of the disease before he tells Meda about it. Eli internally struggles with the idea of infecting Kiera with the disease, but he really does not have a problem with infecting others. Eli infects Meda without thinking and without feeling bad, so she does not get a chance at informed consent. Meda had absolutely no choice and most people in the book do not have a choice because they are not even aware of this disease until it’s too late. Meda had no way of knowing that Eli is infected and so when he scratches her and gives her the disease, she does not know anything happened until it is too late. After this, when Meda has the disease and survives it, she does the same thing to other people. She has no problem infecting others without their consent, even though she knows it is not fair, considering what she went through. 

Kiera is Blake’s daughter, she is sixteen and dying of leukemia. After being kidnapped, she is the only one not immediately infected as Eli is unsure if it will kill her or not. This allows Keira to have a choice in being infected. Eli, instead of infecting her himself, Kiera takes his hand and makes the decision to accept the disease. She knows the risks, she knows she may die, but she still chooses to be infected by Eli. When it comes to anyone in Blake’s family, Kiera is the only one who comes closest to having informed consent. She, once more, knows she may die, she knows she could become sicker than she already is, and she knows if she does live, she will no longer be human. With all of this in mind, she makes the decision on her own, doing what she feels is right for herself. While her father or sister may see it as the wrong choice, this highlights the idea that each person should have control over their body and their choices. Instead of Blake, her father, making a choice he believes is the best for her, it is Kiera making the choice for herself. Consent means that you can make a choice based on the information provided to you and on your own values because it is your own body. Blake does not believe in the disease, he does not believe they can make a cure, and he believes he has to protect his daughters from horrible things, including this disease. But when Blake does this he ends up taking away Rane’s or Kiera’s ability to consent for themselves. Butler shows that consent also involves the making of a decision for yourself, through Kiera. 

Informed consent in the book is important, but not acknowledged. The characters struggle both individually and collectively with the idea of informed consent. We see each character’s individual struggle, as shown above, as well as a collective struggle to inform those who were kidnapped, of the disease. The Clay’s Ark community, as a whole, does not give informed consent to anyone who is new to the community. They do not explain the disease, how it is contracted, or what it can do to the person who is infected. They only explain after the fact, when they already have the disease and it is too late to back out. If they had given informed consent, there would have been an option to back out from getting the disease. However, because informed consent or any consent was not given, there was no option to opt-out. The idea of consent within the Clay’s Ark community is also shown to be based on who has information and what they do with it.  This is shown in how Meda only gives Blake some information, and only after he has been infected. The same thing happened when Eli infected Meda. Becoming informed of what may happen to you only comes after one is given the disease, and in turn, their ability to consent is taken away. If you are not informed of something until after it has been done to you then you are stuck with it. All these people are stuck with this horrible disease and they try to justify it by telling them afterward. There is no justification in this because there was no consent.