I Can Notice and Grow, Can You?

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.


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.

Is This My Body or Prison?

One of the biggest themes in this class is the human body. Men, women, children, African Americans, and even zombies. Obviously one of the biggest themes was racism as I talked about in my last blog post with all the examples from Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. However, relating to my last blog post I am still interested in talking about discrimination. After reading Zulus, one of the biggest things I kept thinking about was the discrimination towards women and especially towards Alice Achitophel in this book. 

Zulus by Percival Everett is a story about a very large woman living in a post-apocalyptic world. She is judged because of how large she is. In this world all the women are no longer fertile, except for Alice Achitophel. She ends up being raped and becomes pregnant. She decides to go to the rebels, but they only want her because she can reproduce. Next, a very odd thing happens, she just starts rapidly growing and expanding until her body explodes and she is left with a new body. Her new body is a very attractive and skinny woman. Her old body, specifically her head, is still in the hands of the rebels and she can somehow feel and know what is being done around her old head and what the rebels are doing to her. 

The first thing I want to talk about is the discrimination that overweight Alice faces. She is shamed for her weight. On page 22 of Zulus it says, “no one looked at her anymore, except to offer that obligatory shake of the head that meant either pity or disgust.” And later this same page says, “the guards gathered around like always to watch the fat woman clear the gate by the narrowest of margins, laughing as her big legs carried her away from them and across the wide lobby to her division.” Something in life that I believe is so morally wrong is to discriminate someone because of how much they weigh or their looks. Why is it okay to laugh at someone because they are bigger than you? These guards act like she is some kind of animal, mocking and laughing at her. Her neighbors and people around her refuse to talk to her and look at her only because of her size. 

The second thing I want to talk about is Alice being raped and therefore transforming into a woman that fits into social norms. The way I see her rape is that this man, just like the rest of society, sees her as an embarrassment because she doesn’t look exactly like everyone else. To me the rape is this man forcing her body to start the transformation to look like everyone else. Society is forcing itself on this woman and forcing her to change because they want a perfect society and she is the embarrassment of the society. As she transforms into her knew body, the rebels still have part of her old body. She is still connected to her old body and she cannot get away from it. She is still trapped inside of this body that all of society hated. She cannot break the connection to her old flesh. At the end of the book it seems as though she agrees to a mass suicide to try and get away from her body.

On page 242 Kevin says “Alice, our daughter was dead before she was born… where does a child grow in this world?”. To me this relates to our real world so much. There are all these social norms that people are supposed to fit into. And when someone does not fit into these specific guidelines they are shamed and discriminated against. This remind me of racism in our world as well. In Medical Apartheid there are so many examples of doctors discriminating against African Americans only because of the color of their skin. They are stuck in their bodies that they were born into just like Alice and they are being put down because of this just as Alice was in Zulus. Our world is full of people who are discriminated against for things they cannot change. People have laughed and mocked people just because their skin color is different. African Americans were slaves and were treated worse than animals would have even been treated.

In chapter 9 of Medical Apartheid there is a story about an African American man named Cade, who came into a hospital and instead of the doctors fixing this mans’ broken leg, it says on page 217 “they extracted bone chips, and pulled 15 of his teeth to measure Cade’s newly elevated plutonium levels; only then, 5 days later, did they set his broken bones.” The doctors started injecting him with plutonium and on page 217 it says, “the purpose of the injection had not been to treat Cade’s body, but to experimentally calibrate the plutonium’s physiological devastation.” Cade eventually escaped from the hospital before they could do who knows what else to him. 

I think Cade realized what was going on and realized they were treating him like some sort of animal and wanted his life to mean more. Cade just like any other man should not have been treated like this. Why do we discriminate against someone for having a different skin color? And why in Zulus did they discriminate Alice because of her weight? Cade escaped because he didn’t want to live in a world where he was tested on and treated like nothing. Alice tried to escape her world by supporting the mass suicide at the end of the book. Alice realized the world would never change and she would always be connected to her body and she could not escape that discrimination in the world she was in. 

Zulus shows me a representation of our own world. We are trapped in our bodies, in this world full of discrimination. If you are not exactly what society wants, then you will be discriminated against. I think this book is showing us that no matter how much we try to escape that world, there will always be racism, discrimination, and people feeling trapped in their own bodies because of society. We cannot escape from our bodies and we cannot escape from this unchanging world. 

Discrimination in the Medical World

Something in this class that has been talked about over and over again is discrimination. This has been talked about throughout the books we have read, the articles provided, and many other resources as well. Before this class I never thought about discrimination in the medical world. This was not a topic that was ever brought up to me before college. Even in my senior year while I was taking more advanced classes that were more college-like classes, I never learned about this kind of discrimination. We may have glanced over something like this in a history class along the way in high school, however, it was never really brought to my attention on this type of level. There was and still is so much discrimination in the medical world. There was obviously much more medical discrimination before slavery had been abolished but even after slavery was gone there was still an extreme amount of racism and even now there is still a lot of racism. Until I started digging into this subject and researching more, I found that there is still discrimination which I also was not aware of before now. 

Some very huge examples of discrimination that we read about were in a book called Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. We read chapters of this book throughout the semester. This book really opened my eyes to the problems in the medical community. Especially these problems I had never thought about. Starting in the times of slavery, was a chapter called “The Surgical Theater”. A man with jaw cancer had no choice but to have surgery on his jaw. He did not get to make the decision to have the surgery or not. Page 102 states “Sam was enslaved, so the decision was left not to him but to his owner, who was eager to return his slave to profitable work. Sam was sent to Montgomery despite his loud and constant protests.” Sam did not want the surgery because in his own words it “would hurt too bad”. In this time, it was not common to use effective anesthesia and sterile techniques. So, the surgery in this time would have been extremely painful and most likely would result in infections that could be fatal. After recuperating, Sam escaped so we don’t exactly know from this book how everything turned out with him. Sam was forced to have an extremely painful and risky surgery just because he was an African American during this time.

In this same chapter of the book, Dr. T. Sullivan ran advertisements for his infirmary. The advertisement read “Any persons having sick negroes, considered incurable by their respective physicians and wishing to dispose of them…”(page 103). These people had no legal rights and could not stop these doctors from incarcerating them and treating them. Dr. T. Sullivan tested new techniques and medications on the blacks while correctly treating the paying whites. He treated the sick African Americans like lab rats and experimented on them. The owners of the slaves were happy to give away their sickly slaves. I understand that this was during the time of slavery so discrimination towards African Americans was not uncommon at all. But to me I never thought about the other parts involved in being a slave. Not only were they owned and treated horribly by their owners, but they were also just sent away to be tested and experimented on by doctors who didn’t even think of these people as human.

In 2002, a more recent case from Medical Apartheid, an African American man by the name of James Quinn was implanted with an experimental artificial heart. Quinn spent the rest of his life, 9 months, in a hospital bed. He eventually was declared brain-dead. Many other cases just like this were appearing around the same time. On page 349 it says “Geography, tradition, and culture intersect to make blacks likely research subjects for new technologies, but race and economics tend to place them outside the marketplace for these same technologies when they are perfected.” These cases are all showing me that African Americans are much more likely to be tested on even now after slavery has been abolished. They get the not yet perfected treatments and then once they are perfected a lot of them can no longer afford these things.

Throughout the years African Americans have been discriminated against in the medical world. How much has the world changed since slavery? Yes, now they can choose their own treatment, but they are being offered the things that are not yet perfected. What percentage of these more experimental treatments are being offered to whites? There is a significantly higher percentage of the people who are black than white. If you thought discrimination in the medical world towards African Americans had significantly decreased maybe take another look. Lots of these things are not talked about anymore but this is still happening today. I was hardly taught anything about this in high school, and why is this? Do we ignore these problems? I have never heard about any of these things on the news but when you simply google search discrimination in the medical field today, lots of articles and cases about this show up. This is something that I believe should be taught to us growing up and something that should be completely eliminated today. It does not matter what your skin color is. Everyone should be getting the exact same medical treatment. I think if we are taught about this topic while growing up that we would have adults that are aware of these things and therefore it would be less likely to happen. Discrimination in the medical world needs to be talked about and awareness of this topic needs to be talked about.


After reading The Painful Truth About Teeth article I started thinking about all the privileges I actually do have. I have dental insurance through my mom. I had braces, I went to the dentist anytime something was wrong, and I never really had to worry too much about it. Not only just the dentist but also the doctors as well. Our insurance covered most anything that was happening with me and reading this article made me realize how many people do have to worry about things like dental insurance. 

In this article, it talked about hundreds of people waiting in line outside in the bitter wind. What all these people were in line for was dental care. The first 1,000 people in line would get their teeth fixed from dentists from five different states. These volunteer dentists pulled 795 teeth within two days. Lots of the patients had good jobs too! Which shocked me because even these people with regular jobs did not have dental insurance and didn’t have enough money for dental work because of how costly it is.

Matello, was a small business owner who had no dental insurance, yet thankfully got her molar fixed at this volunteer dental work event. She talks about her support for Donald Trump because he talked about the forgotten people whose voices are not heard, such as the working class. After Trump was elected, he was supporting a health care plan that did not help low-income and the elderly at all. It even showed that some of these people who do have coverage will lose it. Trump talked about helping the lower-class citizens of America to get their votes, yet they still have no voice. Who’s listening to them and trying to fix the world to help these people? These people voted for Donald Trump to be our president because he said he would give them a voice. Yet here are all these people with no help. Dental insurance is just one of the examples.

Thinking about how someone had a cracked molar and had no dental insurance, therefore forcing her to chew on one side of her mouth for YEARS is crazy. Because this lady did not have dental insurance she lived for years with pain in her mouth. Thinking about how many other people are probably also living with pain like this lady is incredibly horrifying. I could not imagine living for years with pain like that. I have the privilege to walk into a dentist office and pay a co-pay of a few dollars and be able to have straight, white, and healthy teeth. Many Americans, like me, have this same privilege but reading this article made me realize how many people don’t have this option as well. They do not have the option to have healthy teeth. These people have no way to get these options until someone steps up and makes changes. 

In this article, there was a very interesting point made about how the wealthier Americans spend over 1 billion every year just to make their teeth white, while there are Americans who cannot even afford dental work. Hardly any Americans have a real tooth left after 65 years old. Usually having perfect straight white teeth is associated with being wealthy. Most people on tv and other famous people all have perfect teeth. You will most likely not see any famous wealthy people with crooked or yellow teeth. Trump for example has perfect teeth. Yes, some people are born with perfect teeth, however, most people have to have some dental work done throughout their lifetime. I would make the assumption that our president has most likely had dental work done and I would assume he had dental insurance being that he is such a wealthy man. He had the privilege to have dental insurance and end up with perfect teeth and I am sure he has amazing health insurance too. Trump and many other people in America have these privileges yet they just sit there and don’t try to help the people who do not have these advantages. Just because you are privileged why shouldn’t you help other people have the same privileges as you? I personally feel very grateful for the insurance that I have. I have had lots of medical issues and I also had braces and had teeth fixed. I know that not everyone has the same privileges and I feel grateful for having them. If I had the chance to somehow help the people who don’t have these options I would. I’m not sure how much change an 18-year-old, college student can make but if I had a chance to help, I 100% would. But the wealthy, famous people who could make a change just sit there and don’t help. Trump and many other people in the government should be concerned about the lower class and trying to help them. The lower class in America should not be forgotten and the people who have the power to give them a voice should do exactly that and give them a voice.

In the book we read, Zone One by Colson Whitehead, it was talked about that the rich were the ones who tended to escape. They took all their possessions that they could and escaped. A lot of the poor had to stay and try to block their doors and windows to stay safe. Which then led to them being infected with no choice. Some people couldn’t leave, and some people wouldn’t have enough money to go anywhere else, so they had no choice but to stay. Just like with natural disasters the low-class people don’t have the means to leave. They were stuck with no choice. The low-class Americans have no choice with insurance either. Even in this fiction book, these people have no choices and are stuck in these situations because they don’t have enough money. They don’t deserve to be abandoned in a “zombie” apocalypse, they don’t deserve to live for years with a tooth ache, they shouldn’t have to wait in a line out in the cold to finally have their teeth fixed for free. So, who’s going to finally take a big enough step and change life for these people? They deserve to have a voice and they deserve change.

The Unknown

Have you ever thought about all the hidden things in the world? All the things that happen behind closed doors? Whether it is with the government, families, parents, or even doctors. There is so much stuff that happens in our world that you and I do not even know about. It raises so many questions for me and makes me really dive deep into my thoughts. Are there things that people hide from me? Are there things hidden from all of the public? I hope these things are making you feel the same way I am feeling. Thinking about this makes me question everything. Why are there things that are hidden from me? Can I not handle the truth?

In all the books we have been reading and especially in Medical Apartheid there are so many cases of people being treated and tested on without them knowing of what is actually going on. There are so many secrets in the medical world which is very morally wrong in my opinion and I think most people would also have this same opinion. Imagine being pregnant and going into the doctors to deliver your baby. You are going in trusting these doctors with your life and the life of your baby as well. You are expecting them to deliver your baby and do whatever they can do to keep both you and the baby safe. That is what you are expecting, you are not expecting them to do things to your body without your consent or knowledge. However, you go and deliver your baby and the doctors secretly tie your tubes. Can you imagine being sterilized without even knowing? I’m sure you are now thinking something along the lines of “oh that doesn’t happen now that kind of stuff only happened years ago.” But you are wrong. There have been cases of this kind of stuff still happening in recent years. In 2013, there were dozens of female inmates in California that had been illegally sterilized. Forced sterilization is still a problem in the world today. Today women are told that their immigration, housing, and other benefits for their status in our country will be taken away unless they get this procedure done. However, they are told that this procedure can be reversed. Sterilization abuse in our world today is horrifying. While reading these articles I feel absolutely horrible for these women and cannot imagine how these doctors do this to women without feeling anything? Do they not feel terrible for these choices?

Just so you completely understand this with me, in 2007 the United States gave the government the right to sterilize “unwilling and unwitting people” which they classified as poor, unwed, and mentally disabled women, children and men. North Carolina sterilized over 7,600 people in a 40-year period. Our own government decided and made rules on who should and should not be able to have babies. They decided poor people should not be allowed to have babies and they forced that on people. Where I grew up the people were not exactly upper class, and I can’t imagine the government and the doctors sterilizing people I know just because they were classified as “poor”. What gives our government the right to decide such things? And even worse what gives doctors the right to do whatever they want without people knowing?

Thinking about this sort of makes me feel like I am having an existential crisis. If you do not know what an existential crisis is, Wikipedia defines it as “a moment at which an individual questions if their life has meaning, purpose, or value.” Are we as individuals more than just a number? Or more than just a test subject? Reading more about how doctors have treated people makes me feel like we are exactly that, just a number. What is the meaning of each of our lives if we do not even make our own decisions for our bodies? Throughout years of history, doctors secretly made decisions for people and treat these people like they are not even human. How can humans treat other humans like this? If secret things like this are still going on even today, then we have not fixed anything. People are still just test subjects. If there are secret things happening in our government that we do not know about then yet again we are just a number, and someone else is making the decisions for us. Just like our own government deciding who would be sterilized. We, as the people did not have a choice. The higher up people decided for everyone as if we were just their test subjects.

Before something was mentioned in class about having a fear of doctors, I had never really thought about it. I knew people were scared to go to the doctor because of things like shots and sickness. I never thought about someone being so scared of doctors that they cannot even bring themselves to go to the doctor. Fear of doctors is called iatrophobia. Sure, some people are scared of blood and needles but maybe some people have this fear because they have read about all the corruption in the medical world. Maybe they are scared to go to the hospital to have a baby because they don’t trust the doctor to do what they are supposed to.

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. No one should have to walk through life being scared of people. I shouldn’t have to go to the doctor and worry or think about someone taking advantage of my body. I shouldn’t have to worry about my doctor not asking for my consent. But we do, we have to worry about these things because of the doctors who apparently had no moral standards and did not care even a little about their patients. I find it so unbelievably scary that I cannot go to a doctor and just be able to fully trust them. The world is extremely corrupt and like I said it scares me and I do not know how to deal with it. If in the back of my mind I always have these thoughts of not trusting people, is this really a healthy way to live? How do I balance these things so that I don’t live my whole life in fear? I do not know how to answer my own question which is also horrifying. I want to live my life without fearing everything. So, how do I do this?

Inequality and Social Hierarchies

Inequality is something in our world that does not seem to ever go away. It has always been there, and I really do not see it going away anytime soon. Even in a fiction book or movie there is always this problem of inequality. There is always a hierarchy in the world even in these made up stories. Where did this mindset come from? Why do people think they have to be better than someone else or higher up than someone else?

In Zone One the world is a wreck. Sweepers, a civilian task force, are going through and trying to rid the world of skels. Skels, are zombie like people who spread this disease through biting or scratching others. The sweepers are getting rid of the rest of the stragglers that the marines failed to get rid of. The books setting is in New York City in a place they call zone one. The main military headquarters are in Buffalo, NY. This is where the main military sends out orders. The main goal for the teams is to get rid of all the stragglers in zone one so that they can start rebuilding this part of the city. 

During our small group discussion someone asked the question so do you think in the book they would be able to rebuild without there being inequality and hierarchies. Is it possible for there to be some type of perfect world where everyone is equal? I believe the answer is no. Even if they could somehow rebuild the world there already is a hierarchy. There are people calling all the shots and making the decisions already. You can tell that the sweepers are at the bottom of the military hierarchy because they are just going through cleaning up whatever the marines had left behind.

 I think the buffalo headquarters represents returning to the civilian life they knew before. In this world disaster they already established a hierarchical system. I am assuming this was one of the first things they did. They created a system to try and fix the world. It’s human nature to create a hierarchy. I don’t think that will ever go away. I think it is somewhere in all of us to place ourselves somewhere among the people and some people become leaders and make their way to the top while others end up at the bottom not being able to do much at all.

An example in our world today is when there are natural disasters, the first people to get out are the rich or more wealthy people. If you have money to leave, then you leave before whatever disaster it is hits. People with less money usually don’t have the means to leave. If they don’t have the money to go somewhere else, then they have no other choice but to stay. I feel like on the news you always see all these people staying and everyone sort of thinks “What are they crazy? Why would they want to stay there?”. However, I don’t think a lot of people think about how these people don’t have the money to leave. They are stuck because of their place in the social hierarchy of the world. In an article I was reading called What the Camp Fire Revealed by Annie Lowrey, she said “Leaving itself sometimes imposes a significant cost—gas, missed work, hotel rooms—that the wealthier can bear but that the poor might not be able to. Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, when many lower-income families were waiting on first-of-the-month checks to pay their bills. Many could not afford to get out. In later surveys, respondents explained that “the hurricane came at the wrong time, we were waiting for our payday” and that “money was hard to come by.” So, if you think the poor didn’t have enough money to leave during a natural do you think they have enough money to rebuild? The answer is no. Of course, there are always people who donate things and try to help but in these low-income places it takes so long for them to rebuild and by the time they get it rebuilt, they get hit again by another disaster. Poverty rates climb while all this is happening, and it really just seems to be getting worse and worse. Another part to this whole thing is that the lower-income countries are more likely to climate change and therefore leading to more natural disasters. 

What I read was that most of the government funding after natural disasters ends up helping the wealthier people instead of the low-income people. How is it fair that the people who have more money to begin with get the help while the poor people who had no choice but to stay there risking their own lives do not get enough help rebuilding. People end up homeless while the rich get their home rebuilt. Why would we not give as much help to the people who are more helpless? This question really leads me back to all the inequality in our world. Why do the rich get more help than the people who really need it?

There is always a hierarchy and there is always inequality because for some reason people think they are somehow more important than someone else. We are all humans. What makes you better than me? Just because you have more money than someone else does that mean you are more important than them? I really think that inequality and hierarchies are very screwed up, but I do not think there will ever be a world without it. There is just no possible way to not have it. Like I said before, I think it is somewhere in all of us. It’s just human nature and I don’t believe that it could drastically change.

Here is a link to the article I was reading, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/why-natural-disasters-are-worse-poor/580846/


The definition of consent from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “to give assent or approval”. Giving consent happens in most of our lives very often. Every time we go to the doctors office we sign to give consent to the doctors. Informed consent happens when a physician gets the patient’s authorization to undergo a specific medical intervention. Doctors are supposed to make sure the patient understands the medical information and they are supposed to present all the information including diagnosis and all risks that go along with it. A patient can only make a choice if they have enough information about the treatment, benefits, and side effects. You have the right to decide what happens to your body, because it’s YOUR body.

In my life involving doctors consent I remember back to when I had brain surgery. My neurologist gave me two options to fix the problems in my brain that I was having. There were two different surgeries that I could choose between. He gave my parents and I detailed information for both surgeries. He presented us with all the risks for both surgeries and gave us details on how each procedure would work. Once we decided on a surgery we signed lots of different consent forms. This helped me feel more comfortable going into the procedure because I knew exactly what was going to happen while I was under. This is exactly what a doctor is supposed to do. I could not imagine going to the doctors for a surgery and putting all my trust in a person for them to do some horrible thing to me without me knowing. Or even doing tests on me without me knowing.

The book we have been reading “Medical Apartheid” has many examples of not giving consent. In chapter 9, “Nuclear Winter”, talked about a man by the name of Elmer Allen. Allen had fallen from a train and fractured his leg. Later on he was diagnosed at a free clinic with chondrosarcoma which is cancer of the bone. The doctors then injected his leg with plutonium 238. The medical records said that he was told something about the procedure but he was not actually given enough information to consent to it. The doctors lied and said that this injection was a form of therapy and would be their last hope to save his leg, however, they ended up amputing his leg. In reality, he was part of an experiment. This experiment left him disabled, and greatly affected him for the rest of the years he was alive.

In my mind I really cannot grasp how any doctor could do this to someone. Not only one person but they experimented on 20 people in this same way. There are so many stories just like this one. This is exactly why there is a medical consent requirement. I could not imagine going into a surgery and ending up in some sort of awful experiment instead of being helped. People were tested on like some sort of guinea pigs. They were not aware of what was going on and they were not given any options. Doctors took their body and did whatever they pleased to it. Their bodies were no longer their own. This concept is absolutely horrifying to me.

Another thing I have been thinking about involving consent is not directly involved in the medical field. Listening to Ben
Chapman speak about deception studies is what really started to make me think about consent. Did they give enough information for the people to give consent for the experiment? They were not aware before they started that there was this specific form of ecoli placed in the experiment. Sure, it was no risk to the people in the study but should it have been discussed with them before they gave consent? This really pulls me in different directions trying to decide what is right and what was not. I don’t think they could get accurate information from the experiment if they knew about it before hand because people will act differently if they know. However, I completely understand why people would want to know about it. Listening to Chapman talk about changing how they inform the people at the end comforted me. It showed how much he cared. Ben Chapman is not like one of those doctors who treats the subjects like lab rats. He understands and wants to make sure each person felt comfortable after finding out everything in the experiment.

Consent is clearly an important part of our lives. It is your body and you get to decide what happens to it. I would always want to know all the facts and understand anything that could happen to my body. No one else can decide what happens to my body except me. Listening to Chapman and reading ‘Medical Apartheid’ has really made me realize how important it is to give consent. Not only to give consent but when I’m giving consent how important it is to know exactly what it is that I’m giving consent for.

Mutato Nomine

While reading through Zulus, I saw a saying that said “MUTATO NOMINE” in chapter R, page 112. I was reading quite fast when I saw this foreign saying and decided I could look it up later. I kept reading and eventually finished this absolutely insane book. As Professor McCoy said, “What the hell?”. This was pretty much the only thing I was thinking while trying to bounce what I just read around in my head. While frantically searching for answers, I remembered the mutato nomine saying.

Mutato nomine translates to “the name changed”. The named changed means about nothing in my head and I was not making any connections at all. I eventually found out that there is more to the saying than just mutato nomine. The whole expression is “Mutato nomine de tu fabula narratur” which translates to “with the name changed, the story applies to you”. I read this and thought “I know there is a connection, but I have absolutely no clue what this means.”

I, obviously, do not exactly know what the author, Percival Everett, was trying to portray with this expression or even the whole book but I sure do have some ideas. I am not sure when all of it clicked in my brain but at some point, I started to make lots of connections.

Alice’s head, as we established during a class discussion, is stuck forever in a glass case. The gas that will spread and kill all of humankind cannot get inside of a sealed glass container where her living head is. While every single human on the planet dies, Alice will live. However, should Alice have tried to stop Kevin from letting out the gas? She is now stuck forever in her head knowing that there is no other living human and the only thing she can see forever is the alphabet. If I were her, I would’ve thought about this before I decided it was a good idea to let some man kill my body and every other person on earth.

Alice is just like the average person in modern society today. Lots of people just sit down and avoid problems. Small problems of their own or even huge problems of the world, lots of people just want to avoid it and hope that someone else can fix it. I personally understand this. I like to avoid my problems and sit and hope they just go away. But my problems have never just magically disappeared, I have to fix them. Sometimes it’s laziness but sometimes it is fear stopping me from fixing my problems. But at the end of the day if I want something to change or I want my problems to be fixed, then I am the one who has to get up and fix them. This is the same way for huge world problems as well. We need people to stand up and want to fix the problems. People can not be lazy or scared and sit in their houses avoiding all of it. People are physically ruining the world every single day. We are polluting and contaminating the only planet that we can survive on at the moment. We use non-renewable energies in our everyday lives which is killing the earth. Just to make plastic we burn fossil fuels such as coal and gas all the time. Fossil fuels being burned is ruining the earth’s atmosphere. Every single day we are absolutely killing the earth, yet some people still avoid the issue. Yes, there are people promoting the changes and trying to fix the problem, but I think there are a lot more people avoiding it.

Another example of people avoiding problems would be when people knew the absolutely awful things happening in medicine years ago, yet they just kept letting it happen. Black bodies were stolen from graves to be tested on, people disappeared from hospitals to be tested on, people IN the hospital were being tested on instead of being helped. If you witnessed these things happening would you just sit there and decide that you could not do anything to help or would you try to fix this? While people were being tested in hospitals the nurses must have known. But were they trying to stop the problem or were they just watching it happen?

Alice tried to help at one point, but eventually just listened to Kevin and was convinced that the world would be better off without humans because they couldn’t fix it. If she would not have avoided the problem and conformed, then maybe she could have stood up and tried to fix things. There is always people who want to fix the world problems and I am sure if you get enough people you can eventually start to make some changes. However, Alice made her decision and now she will be stuck forever in a box thinking about how she could’ve changed all of this.

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.

Now going back to “Mutato nomine de tu fabula narratur”, if you change the name of the story then it applies to you. If we change the name of the story, then it’s our story. So, do you want to be stuck like Alice or do you want to at least try to fix our world problems? I know I would rather die trying than knowing I could have tried and didn’t.

Olivia Herring

ENGL 101

Thursday, September 12th

During the first few class periods we have read and talked about a lot of different topics. We have talked about race, discrimination, knowledge, both/and, epistemology, and even more. All the things that we have talked about are very important yet most of it I have never even thought about or discussed. I think taking this class as a freshman and this being one of my first classes here at college will really help my understanding of the world. It will help me think about a lot of the things that I have never even discussed before. I am already learning so much because of this class. 

In what we have discussed in class and learned these first few periods I really started to think more about race. We discussed and watched a video on race that really got me thinking more about the topic. Nothing that people have said about race is scientifically proven. There is no scientific basis for race. After we watched this video I wanted to learn more about it so I read into it more. A doctor by the name of Samuel Morton believed that whites were the most intelligent of the races and at the very top. Going from greatest to least, it was Whites, East Asians, Native Americans, and then Blacks. His ideas were believed by the people who supported slavery. Come to find out, his ideas were not correct at all. There was no scientific evidence that suggests this is correct. (There’s No Scientific Basis For Race, Elizabeth Kolbert)

Many people believe, like Morton, that race is somehow connected to athletic ability and intelligence. People think that somehow athletic ability and intelligence is in your genes. But, there is no genetic evidence to prove this. People use biology as an excuse for social differences. All humans are actually very similar. In the video we watched they talked about how penguins that look almost identical are more different from each other than humans are. Humans can look completely different. Different skin color, hair color, hair texture, eye color, etc. Yet penguins that look exactly the same are more different than we are. Learning this fact sort of blew my mind. I never would have expected this at all. 

In the video we watched during class, they looked at the DNA of all the different people in the class. Each assumed their DNA would be the closest to someone of the same race as themselves. The African American man assumed he would be closest to the other African 

American and the latino assumed she would be closest to another latino in the class. Their assumptions of who they would be closest to was very wrong. All of the people in the class were wrong and I would say quite shocked that they were wrong about this. Your DNA can be closest to someone who looks absolutely nothing like you and someone you would never expect. This shows me how genetically similar humans really are. Even the people you would never expect to be so closely the same as you are. In my opinion it really is crazy to think about and it is absolutely amazing learning about this.

Seeing how similar humans really are, and realizing that there is no scientific evidence to support the claims that have been made, you can come to say that race is really just an illusion that organizes peoples’ lives. Race is just an excuse that people use instead of facing the real concrete evidence that people have spent their whole lives researching. These people have spent their whole lives researching this because race has had such a huge impact on our society. Race always comes back. Everyone fights it, but it always finds a way back out of the grave and raises to life again and causes problems. Police brutality, it is such a sensitive topic so I will not be going into it but that is a huge popular issue happening in our society today and it has so much to do with race. People blame it on race.

I think going forward in this course I can really improve and set many goals for myself. After we watched the video in class, I looked up more information about what I learned in the video. In high school, this is not something I would have done. In high school I just learned the information that was given to me and that was it. But 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. This is something I did and something I will continue to do throughout the semester because I know this will help me during class and as well as helping me throughout life in the future.

Some goals I want to set for the rest of the semester would definitely be to make sure I read everything assigned to me and then to go even deeper and read more than just the assigned reading. I also want to set another goal for myself, making sure that while I am reading something I understand it before I move on to something different. I sometimes struggle with this and I will read something and then not actually fully understand it and move on anyway. This does not help me learn at all so that is why I am setting this goal for myself. I am not sure if I am the only person who will be setting a goal like this or if other people find they also struggle with this, but I think it is a super important part of my learning skills that needs to be fixed.