Signing up for this class was not something I particularly had in mind. As a freshman, I was just looking for an English class because English was one of my best subjects in high school that I also happened to enjoy the most. Little did I know this would be one of the most interesting English classes I have ever taken. Sure, I am only a freshman in my first semester. However, none of my English classes or any classes for that case in high school made me think like this class has. This class has changed the way I think and notice things. Never before had I thought about racism, medicine, and literature’s connections. Looking at those three words, I never would have made a connection between them before this class.
Part of this class that was really brought to my attention was the connections between literature, medicine, and racism. When I signed up for this class, I assumed it was three different topics. I thought maybe the semester was going to be split up into three different sections. One for literature, one for medicine, and one for racism. Before coming to class my first day I did think maybe these three topics were connected but I honestly could not think of how any of these could connect. At first, I just assumed they didn’t connect and there was really no reason for me to try and connect them. I soon realized in this class that literature informed us and taught us about all of these things in the world of medicine. We read many books such as Medical Apartheid, Fortune’s Bones, Home, Seed to Harvest, Zone One, and many articles as well. For me, literature kind of ties all three together because literature is the source that taught me about the connections between medicine and racism. Racism was all over the medical world and even today there is still racism and discrimination in the medical world. Literature taught us about racism in the medical world and I think that is a super important connection to make.
In one of my first posts I did make a connection between Zulus and our world and the people in it. In my blog post called Mutato Nomine I said “To me Alice represents all of us sitting here letting the earth go to waste. At some point it’s going to be too late to fix it and all we are going to be able to do is sit and watch it happen just as Alice is. I think the author is showing us this as a warning before it is too late.” While I was making connections, I was not making the right connections. In my mind I was mostly thinking about the pollution and other things that are ruining the earth and then I tried to make a sort of meaningless connection to medicine. I think in a lot of my blog posts I made connections to worldly things and then I could not come up with a real meaningful connection to racism and medicine through the different books.
In my lowest scoring blog post called The Unknown, Professor McCoy commented on it and said, “You have the evidence, Olivia—why aren’t you using it?” and another thing she said was “I can make room for the personal in the writing, but the writing can’t be limited to the personal. I can’t grade manifestos, political positions, or personal beliefs, no matter how much I might agree and/or disagree with them, share and/or not share them.” This definitely made me think. It made me think about what exactly it was that I was thinking about and what I was noticing. Up to this post and even a little bit in my posts after this one, I was mostly just writing about my opinions. I was talking about my feelings about how people were treated and how wrong certain things were. In my blog post, The Unknown, I wrote “For me, reading and learning about all these secretive things that have happened in the medical world make me not trust doctors. How am I supposed to trust doctors when they have such a bad reputation? How can anyone trust these people? How can I trust anyone? It is really hard to figure out how to live your life in peace and trusting people when there is such a horrible reputation of people not respecting our bodies.” And I continued in this post talking about how I felt instead of noticing the meaningful connections between the books having to do with medicine and racism.
In my most recent blog post, Value, which I received the highest grade out of all my blog posts, I realized what I was finally doing right. I couldn’t just talk about my opinions I had to have a thought and find evidence to support my thoughts. In this blog post I talked about valuing human beings and I found evidence to support this from two of the books we read and then from an article that I found on my own as well. I was finally making the right connections throughout the books and I had the evidence to support my claims.
In Medical Apartheid, Harriet A. Washington says, “We must acknowledge the past in order to regain trust and to seize the future”(page 386). To me this is super important because a lot of literature is about the past or is based off of things that have happened in the past. So, to me reading literature is a way to inform people such as myself about things like racism in the medical world. People need to be aware of things like this so it will not continue to happen in the future. This class has taught me to notice and make solid connections. Never before was I able to make these kinds of connections and I never thought I would make connections such as the connection between literature, medicine, and racism. And I think it’s really important that others can learn to make these connections too.
In high school you are not taught to actually think about things and notice. You are taught to sit down and remember the information. Or you are given a topic and you are supposed to relate your ideas to this topic. But the type of thinking and noticing that I have done in this class is far different from any of that. In my first blog post I wrote “the stuff I am learning in this class is real world stuff. This is the kind of knowledge I would like to have as I grow into an adult. An adult would look more into something like this and dig deeper to widen their understanding of the topic and get as much information as possible so that they can form their own opinion of the topic.” Even in my first blog post I was noticing that this class was going to change my way of thinking. Just in the first couple weeks of this class I was already being affected.
One of the books we read that significantly affected me was Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. Each chapter of this book had a different case, a different story. This made me realize the concrete connections between racism and medicine. As I talked about in one of my blog posts, Discrimination in the Medical World, discrimination towards race was not something that only happened in the 1900’s. Reading Medical Apartheid first made me think about all the racism in the world of medicine way back in the day. This was something that was never taught to me or probably even talked about. I hardly had any knowledge of this topic before reading this book. But then I also noticed that this is still happening in the world today. I knew that there was still racism and discrimination in the world. Never would I have thought there was still discrimination in the medical world even today. This was never something I would have known before taking this class. The things I learned in this class are things that I assume not a lot of people in our world know about because there is never anything on the news about this and it isn’t taught to us while we are growing up. The information I learned in this class is information I think everyone should be informed of. People should know about these things because everyone has medical needs and should know if they are going to have any risks such as discrimination. I think people other than just us in this class would benefit if they could somehow make these connections throughout real world problems.
Growing is something that everyone continually does throughout their entire lives and it is an extremely important part of every persons’ life. However, the way everyone grows is different depending on what you are exposed to throughout life. I was exposed to this certain class and I grew as a writer and thinker. I also grew in how I notice. Things are connected and I should always be looking for connections and so should other people. The things I took away from this class and the way I learned to think is something I think everyone would benefit from and I would recommend this class to anyone so others could grow in their own thinking just like I did. Our world could grow together if more people knew how to notice. My whole thinking process has changed and the worlds thinking process needs to change too.