Watching: A Self Reflection

This semester, many things have been drawn to my attention and I have been able to see others noticing things that were brought to their attention. This class has helped me understand what it truly means to notice things. It isn’t just about paying attention to ideas,  phrases or characters, it is about understanding and deeply thinking about what you have seen or heard. The course epigraph is “My job is to notice…and to notice that you notice” a quote by Dionne Brand. This epigraph was what drove the class, either by being talked about directly or by being in the back of our minds. 

Throughout the class and the books we have read, I have noticed many things. I have watched my peers read passages of the books we are reading and everyone has different things that are called to their attention. I have seen many whole class discussions where one person has seen something in a passage and others are able to relate and elaborate. I have also said things within discussions that people have bounced their ideas off of. The literature we have read creates pathways for meaningful discussions to occur. 

One discussion that really made an impact on me was our discussion about words. When reading Zone One by Colson Whitehead, there were many words in the book that not many people knew, and so we discussed these words. The conversation stood out to me because it made me think about how different everyone really is, just by saying words differently.  Even just within the state of New York, there are so many different accents and ways to say things. Everyone is different and that is okay. I also saw something similar happen within Zulus by Percival Everett. The book had many misspellings throughout and some people caught it while others did not. This also speaks to the fact that people may spell things wrong but others will still understand what they mean, just like when people say things differently, the idea is still the same. 

One of the first things we did in class was take a bouncy ball and bounce it off the wall. This was to symbolize how thinking and noticing works. This was the first thing we did to introduce the epigraph, showing that everyone has different things that they are aware of. Everyone also has their own ideas that we can bounce off of each other. We all start with one common idea and many others form from that. We can discuss what certain things mean in a book or a passage and each person has their own interpretation of what it means. Such as when we discussed the book Zulus by Percival Everett, and how ideas within that book may be represented in other pieces of literature. I saw that the idea of the body as the most important thing in medical research was also represented in the book Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson when we were shown that the bones of the man underwent many medical experiences. This connected to Zulus because the main character also was the subject of medical experimentation that she did not specifically want. I saw this happen to my peers throughout the semester, more so towards the middle and end. More people began to connect the texts within the group discussions, which allowed others to see those connections and make them personal. As people became more comfortable in groups and with each other, discussions flourished. 

My peers were able to connect ideas found in one book to a previous book we had read, as many ideals and concepts were repeated throughout the literature. Such as the idea that many minorities struggled with the medical field for equal protection against harmful procedures. This idea was prevalent in many of the books we read. 

Within the main book we always connected back to, Medical Aparthied by Harriet Washington, the author discussed many horrible experiments that African Americans had to endure. Even in the first chapter, the author discusses the fact that “Enslavement could not have existed and certainly could not have persisted without medical science” (pg 26). This quote is important because it describes how the world of slavery could not have existed without the medical world. If people had stopped preforming medical experiments on slaves, slavery would have ended because there would not have been as large of a need for them. The book also discusses how African Americans have been used as medical testers for years and how these abuses have harmed society as a whole. 

We connected our other readings back to this book because each other piece of literature has had that same idea embedded within itself. Each story we read in class discussed some minority, real or imaginary, that had injustices against them. Such as Zone One and the groups killing the zombies, and in Medical Aparthied, the doctors killing slaves for research. The doctors used medicine and research to justify killing innocent slaves, just as those in Zone One used the zombies taking over the land to justify killing them, rather than just containing them. Each book had a similar connection to the course materials and the course epigraph. This idea connects to the course epigraph because within each piece of literature, there was something you could notice that you also saw in another book. The course epigraph helped us see the connections between the books. The epigraph also helped the class to work through each book on its own, because it allowed us to make connections to other parts of the same book. 

Throughout the course and the semester, I have grown in my writing and seen how others have as well. It was a privilege to be in this class with all of these people, learning about something that not many people get a chance to learn. I enjoyed being in this class this semester and look forward to how it can help me in the future.

Immigration and Driving

A recent article in the Democrat and Chronicle discussed a new law about unauthorized immigrants receiving drivers licenses. This is a hot topic because New York will be only 1 of 13 states to pass a law like this. The Green Light Law will allow unauthorized immigrants the ability to apply for a drivers license within the state.

This law is a topic of debate because many people do not agree with it. Many people believe “offices are not equipped to determine the veracity of documents that can soon be submitted to obtain a license.” They think that there will be an influx of people who come in, looking to receive a drivers license and will have fake identification and documents. “”They want to us to make a decision right at the window as to whether something is fraudulent or acceptable,” Rensselaer Clerk Frank Merola said, adding, “I’m not going to make a major mistake.”” People do not want to risk making a mistake about whether the information is correct or not.

This is also a topic of debate because people believe this law would make it easier for undocumented and illegal immigrants to become legal in the US. People believe that “the law requires county clerks to participate in a “state-sponsored scheme” that would, in part, allow immigrants in the country illegally to register to vote in New York, which state officials have said would not be permitted.” They think that these illegal immigrants will do harmful thigs to our government and to people potentially. ” He also said a license would allow undocumented immigrants to drive vehicles that can transport heavy loads. Such vehicles are easily capable of transporting and hiding instruments of mass destruction, and would also facilitate other illicit smuggling activities which are unfortunately on the rise in this country, such as human trafficking and drug trafficking,” Merola’s lawsuit claims.” The law would allow these undocumented immigrants the ability to do more illegal things.

The law can also be a good thing. “This law will boost our state’s economy, improve road safety, and keep families together,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director at Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy group.” The roads will be safer and more people will be safe and prosperous than if these immigrants continue to go without drivers licenses. The new drivers also go through driving courses and have to pass the test to get the license still. This would put more safe drivers on the roads.

The new Green Light Law is set to be passed on December 14th. Once the law passes there will most likely be an influx of people at the DMV’s looking to get a license. The law has court cases against it that will lead into 2020, so the law may be repealed.

Doctors and Informed Consent

Recently there was an article on the US News website that discussed informed consent before heart procedures. The article discussed whether or not informed consent actually worked or not.

The article discussed the effectiveness of informed consent. “More than 40% of the patients said they did not understand or remember the information received as part of informed consent. About 60% of those with coronary artery disease thought PCI would cure the disease, nearly 95% believed it would reduce their risk of a future heart attack, and 91% thought it would help them live longer, according to the study published Nov. 28 in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.” Many people do not understand or remember what they are told before the procedure, this makes informed consent ineffective because they should know what is going to be happening to them and what the consequences of the procedure will be, before giving consent.

Patients also receive the information in one large statement and then they do not remember what was said, they need to have the information broken up so they can process and remember the information presented to them. “Cardiologists and nurses should be trained to provide small bits of information and then ask patients to explain it in their own words to see how much they’ve understood, she suggested.” Those who present the information should give it in smaller and easier to process bits, so all patients can understand it.

If patients are not understanding what they are being told about the procedures they are going to undergo, can they really be considered informed, and can they truly give consent? They come out of these procedures with unrealistic expectations and then are confused when the outcome is not what they expected. This is why the information these patients are receiving should be in easy to understand bits and not one large chunk. Doctors should not be giving patients such difficult to comprehend information.

Issues of Consent

Consent has always been a large topic of debate. Some people have never fully grasped what consent actually means in the medical field. Just recently there was a news report about a doctor in Virginia who struggled with consent.

Consent means that you are giving permission for something to happen to you or an agreement to do something. Informed consent is also important because people need to know exactly what is happening to them, why something needs to change, and how it will change. Informed consent is the most important thing a person can give because then they know exactly what is happening to them.

Javaid Perwaiz, a 69 year old doctor in Chesapeake, Virginia, was performing surgeries on woman that they did not want, without their knowledge or consent. He was performing hysterectomies and tying their fallopian tubes without these women’s consent. “In one case, Perwaiz, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Chesapeake, told a woman she needed a hysterectomy after discovering the “imminent onset” of cancer, the documents said. The patient objected and asked instead for a less invasive operation, in which only her ovaries were removed, the court papers said When the woman awoke from surgery, “she was shocked to discover Perwaiz performed a total abdominal hysterectomy.” The doctor cut the patient’s bladder in the process, causing sepsis and requiring a six-day hospital stay, investigators claimed.” Perwaiz was performing harmful surgeries on these women without having their explicit consent.

Consent is an issue here because these women are undergoing invasive procedures that can affect the rest of their lives, without even knowing. They wanted procedures that were not as invasive, that is what they agreed to. But, their doctor decided he wanted to do a different procedure, and then not even put it on their medical records. “When the woman later obtained her medical records, the surgery was described as “elective” and cancer was not mentioned, they said.” The doctor that these women trusted to take care of them lied to them and did things without their consent.

These women had to deal with an unfortunate event that has been going on in the medical field for hundreds of years. Consent in the medical field has been an ongoing issue for many minority groups. As Washington states in her book, Medical Apartheid “Physicians’ memoirs, medical journals, and planters’ records all reveal that enslaved black Americans bore the worst abuses of these crudely empirical practices which countenanced a hazardous degree of ad hoc experimentation in medications, dosages, and even spontaneous surgical experiments in the daily practice among slaves.” Since slavery people have been undergoing harmful procedures without their consent. They did not know what was happening to them.

Many of us do not think twice about going to the doctors. We trust our doctors to take care of us and have our best interests in mind. These women thought they would be safe and taken cared for within the limits they set. Consent needs to be enforced in the medical field and not taken advantage of, as this doctor did.

Words

In class we discussed how words can be said differently, or have different definitions. Some people may have seen those posts on social media that say things like “Read and read, and you just read those differently” or something close. These memes are popular because it shows us that language is strange, we can read words that are spelled the same way in two different ways. We also can go back to the internet debate on how to say the word “gif”, with a hard or soft “G” sound. There are many words like this in the English language.

In the book Zone One by Colson Whitehead, there are many words that one may not know how to say, such as “defenestration”, the act of throwing something or someone out of a window, or “enamored”, having a liking or admiration. There are also many words throughout the book that many people just did not know what they meant, and therefore struggle to say. An example of this is “Ronkonkoma”, which is actually a place located on Long Island, but the book uses the word to mean some sort of STI. “Ronkonkoma? he asked, holding one of the HR ladies’ licenses. “Had a lump of that on our crotch once”(Whitehead 69). The book takes some words and creates new definitions for them that fit the context of the book.

Words also can be differently said because of geography. We know that in the United States alone there are many different accents that make words sound different, and they are still evolving to this day. Words like “caramel”, “egg”, “tournament”, and “elementary”, as well as many others have different pronunciations. They all have the same meaning, but depending on where you live, you may say them differently than another person from somewhere else. There are many accents throughout the United States, as well as many more across the globe. Many words have the same definition, but different ways of saying them as you travel the world.

In conclusion, words are complex. We may not always know what they mean, or how to say them, and sometimes they even are made up or have made up definitions. Words also can be pronounced differently depending on region. Words will always be a complex thing in our world, as they are necessary to communication. Words are needed in a functioning society, even if they are pictures, it is still a means of communication.

People

When people often think of others with AIDs, we think of them differently than someone without. We do not normally see them as we did before, in our eyes they somehow change. The same happens with those that have the Clay’s Ark disease, in the book by Octavia Butler by the same name.

Those with the Clay’s Ark disease are looked at differently, they have different abilities, or they look different. But, in reality, all of these people are the exact same, personality wise, as they were before. Personalities do not change because of a disease, their abilities might though. As when we discover that the children with the disease, namely Jacob who is Meda and Eli’s son, have advanced abilities. “Every child born to them after they get the disease is mutated in some way. … The way he moves- catlike, smooth, graceful, very fast. And he’s as bright or brighter than any other kid his age.” (Butler 512).

The same goes for people who have AIDs, they are still the same on the inside. The misconception that a disease changes a person completely is not true. Just because a person is acting slightly different, doesn’t mean they are different. Their personalities and their true selves remain unchanged. People just tend to act different because they know they have a disease, they are being affected emotionally, mentally, and often times physically as well. So they act out of character at times.

Often times people with AIDs are marginalized and targeted. “American attitudes toward people with AIDs have also mutated from protective to punitive” says Washington in her book Medical Apartheid. People have become less concerned with helping people with AIDs and more concerned with punishing them in some way.

By becoming more concerned with punishment, people see those with AIDs as different people because they think they are to blame for their own disease. Within Clay’s Ark, people are punished for having the disease, in a way. They are held in cells after unknowingly being infected, they are not allowed to see each other, even if they are family, as Blake is not allowed to see his daughters in the book.

Towards the end of Clay’s Ark Blake begins to act out, becoming more violent and yelling at his daughters, which he never does. This, we can assume, is the disease taking over, as we were warned at the beginning would happen. But the difference is that this disease is not a real one, and AIDs is very real. AIDs does not make a person act differently, nor does any disease, sometimes people just do not know how to deal with what they are going through. They act differently of their own accord.

The Snap

In Avengers Endgame (2019), all of the main characters are going through a shared experience. They all have just been through the Snap, which got rid of 50% of the Earths population. Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye, and Captain Marvel are all debating on how to deal with life after this tragic event.

This can be related to the book Zulus, by Percival Everett. The main character Alice Achitophel and those around her are struggling to survive in a world stricken by chemical warfare, much like the Snap. No one is quite sure how to live in a world where the government is controlling everything, even your weight and if you can have kids or not. Alice is an outcast, she is both over weight and pregnant when no one else is. Just like the Avengers are unsure about how to make the world right again and have the outcast group that actually knows what happened and are trying to fix it.

The Avengers eventually are able to get back the other half of the worlds population, through a very large and intense battle, with many deaths and sorrows, as well as the success of getting rid of Thanos, who initiated the Snap. So far in the book Zulus, we have not seen the battle that the rebels will have, if any happens. There has only been conflict between the characters as they figure out what to do with Alice and the baby she is supposed to have. Even though, the baby Alice was supposed to have ended up being a skinnier version of herself. (That I have no idea how to connect to the Avengers)

Noticing

Upon reading the course epigraph, I begin to think about in class, noticing each other talking. In every class period, there is tons of conversation about the reading we completed for class. But these conversations are about noticing things from the text, and noticing what others are noticing.

In the book Medical Apartheid, by Harriet Washington, there is so much to notice. We can notice that there are so many horrible things happening to innocent people through out history. Many of these horrible things include using unclaimed bodies for scientific work, being used for medical experiments without consent, being exploited for having medical deformities, that many other humans have, just because your skin is different, and many other things. In class, we can notice these things and learn about them, but the real learning comes when we notice what others are noticing.

When we notice what others are noticing, we can learn their perception on the topic. Not only do we learn what we think about and understand, we learn about what others think. I can use this knowledge to set a goal for myself. This goal being that I want to notice what others see more often. I want to learn not just my own noticing, but what other classmates notice. Having more discussions about the text and really thinking about what others are saying, talking more and including my own thoughts to help others learn as well.

Noticing what others notice is how you learn more things. The course epigraph really gets me thinking about learning new things from my classmates.