A Follow-Up on the Nuances of Consent

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

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

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

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

Concussions in Youth Sports

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

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

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

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

Music Therapy

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

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

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

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

The Power of Adaptive Clothing

Many people don’t even realize how much clothing affects our everyday life. From the first sock you put on in the morning to your pajamas at night, it all affects our brain. Not everyone is as interested in clothing and fashion as others (or me), but I’m willing to bet that everyone in this class has at least one pair of jeans or one T-shirt that when they put on, they feel more confident and happy about themselves. The reason I am so into clothing is just that. Watching other people get joy from getting a new piece of clothing or pair of shoes actually warms my heart. Mindy Scheier, a fashion design expert who now has her own clothing company spoke on a Ted Talk that my Mother sent me the link to. The video is Mindy telling the tear jerking story of her young son and her experiences with trying to make a difference in the fashion industry and for people with disabilities.

Fashion Designer Mindy Scheier sharing an amazing story on the psychology of fashion.

Mindy Scheier has three kids and is married. She has been working in the fashion industry years and was already a fashion design expert after attending fashion design school. A personal connection I share with Mindy is that before she goes to bed every night she catches herself thinking about what she’s going to wear the next day. I laughed out loud in the library when I heard this because it reminded me so much of myself. Her middle child, Oliver, was born with muscular dystrophy which if you aren’t aware of, is a disease that affects your pulmonary system and your physical strength. As a young toddler, Oliver had to eat food out of an eating tube. He also wasn’t able to get up in the morning and dress himself. He already had a rough and isolated life to begin with. His mom and him decided the best thing for him to do was wear sweatpants to school because he wasn’t able to work zippers and buttons. 

One day in 3rd grade Oliver came home from school and told his mom he wanted to wear jeans to school the next day like everyone else in his class. Mindy explained how hard that hit her. This is when she realized her kid had a love for fashion just like she did. After that she started designing adaptive clothing which is defined as clothing designed for people with disabilities, elderly, or anyone necessarily struggling. She did this because she knew that the jeans would make her son feel alive, feel like him again, and have that self esteem to be able to put something on and be happy about it. Mindy saw the negative effects the isolation of simple clothing for the disabled and wanted to make a change. Adaptive clothing had already existed prior to this, however, since it wasn’t stylish it wasn’t making the people who already felt isolated and targeted, confident about the way they looked.

Scientists actually created a name for this. ‘Enclothed Cognition’ is the co-occurrence of two factors: the physical experience while wearing the clothing, and the symbolic meaning of the clothes directly affect how you feel about yourself through your brain. Mindy started talking about how there is a professor from the UK named Karen J. Pine who wrote and published a book on the psychology of fashion. A specific thing that Mindy shared with us during the video was that Karen J. Pine wrote that when you put on clothes you adapt the characteristics of that piece of clothing. Which goes back to Oliver, this is why he was feeling so isolated, because when he got up every morning to only be able to put on the same sweatpants he was mentally damaged already. With around 1 billion people in the world suffering from a disability, Mindy Scheier created Runway of Dreams which is Mindy’s  fashion brand that collaborates with other high fashion brands to make high quality and stylish, adaptive clothing. Mindy managed to be the first designer ever to create a mainstream adaptive clothing collection. I am super inspired by Mindy and loved sharing this.


In her comments on one of my earlier blog posts, “The History of Zombies”, Dr. Beth mentioned: “Note your use of the verb “consume”–can you make something of this, go deeper in a subsequent post?” I spent a lot of time wondering and thinkING about how I could make a blog post out of a word that is used so unreservedly and is so flexible in its definition—and it is very flexible in its definition. Merriam-Webster has a total of five definitions listed for “consume”: to do away with completely, to spend wastefully (or to use up), to eat or drink especially in great quantity (or to enjoy avidly), to utilize as a customer, and to engage fully. In the way that I used “consume” in my previously mentioned blog post, I feel as though it best fits the definition of “to engage fully”.

But in thinkING and looking at these definitions, I can see how they apply to and connect to so much of what we have done in Literature, Medicine, and Racism this semester.

One of the first things I remember doing in this course was reading Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson aloud in class. So much of this work from Nelson stuck out to me—from the actual story of Fortune being told to the individual words she used to tell the story, there was so much to pay attention to. The combination of these two factors came into play in so many cases, including, “Fortune’s legacy was his inheritance: the hopeless hope of a people valued for their labor, not for their ability to watch and dream as vees of geese define fall evening skies” (Nelson, 13). As an outsider of Fortune’s life, this line from Nelson is a demonstration to me of how Fortune’s life and legacy were consumed by doing work and the value of this work that he had no say in doing. For many today, we look at legacies as who someone was and what they accomplished in their lifetime. However, when someone doesn’t get a say in what their life consisted of, this is completely unfair to do. This is a large part of why I find that, in Fortune’s case, I think the word consume can be used to describe the way his life and legacy were spent and used up on things he didn’t get to choose.

However, on the flip side of Fortune’s Bones, there were many who found themselves consumed by Fortune’s story. In the “Afterword” of Fortune’s Bones, Marie Galbraith, the Executive Director of the Mattatuck Museum, describes how there was a process lasting three years to restore and uncover the history behind Fortune and his bones. Galbraith goes on to discuss how many people were involved in this process—the Mattatuck Museum’s staff, a team of anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, and researchers—and describes the process as being a “community-based project from its beginning” (Nelson, 31). I find it so incredible that so many people would be willingly consumed with the story of a man whose life and legacy were both consumed by a story he didn’t get to choose.

In seeing how the word “consume” could be used to describe so much of what happened in Nelson’s Fortune’s Bones, I also have thought back on other works we have read and thought about how “consume” can apply to them too.

In Toni Morrison’s Home, Frank Money was consumed with anxiety about what had happened to his sister. In Zulus by Percival Everett, the primary government of the people was consumed with the desire (and, depending on who you ask, the need) to control their population. Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark shows what could be the outcome of a community being consumed by a mind and body controlling microorganism. Zone One by Colson Whitehead shows a human population being consumed (in several definitions of the word) by a population of former humans who were now skeles.

With the way all of these works of literature connect back to the word “consume” in some way and to various extremes, I’m beginning to see how important the flexibility of language is. My classmate Rachel Cohen wrote a blog post called “Words”, where she discusses a different aspect of the complexities of language—how where we are from can alter the way in which we say certain words. These complexities and those like them are things I have never (or almost never) thought about before. However, in taking this class, I have discovered so much more about how it is the complexities we see in language that make it so interesting. The way we view and interpret these complexities will ultimately affect how we see the stories told through the literature we read for this class. Make sure that when you encounter these complexities, you let them consume your thoughts for a moment and let that consumption give you a new understanding of what you’re working with.

A Wealth of Knowledge Unshared, and the Need for Discussion

I believe that where this class curriculum excels is in its ability to showcase aspects of American history that would otherwise slip through the cracks of our country’s education system. I think that it’s very easy for us as individuals to say that we have a good understanding of the struggles of African Americans during particularly disappointing time periods in our nation. I know if I were to be asked prior to this course, I most likely would have said I pretty much know what went on. I don’t think that’s necessarily my fault, although it was undoubtedly pretty ignorant of me to believe that I knew the full scope of such things. I think an ongoing issue is the fact that in order to learn about the medical injustices that plagued African Americans, you truly have to seek out information on the topic or be lucky enough to take a class such as this. I suppose there could be an argument made for the specificity of the topic, similar to how an American History class doesn’t cover every battle of every war. However, the battles and wars get mentioned, at least in passing, in order to establish that “yes this happened, we don’t have time to cover it, but just know that is something worth mentioning.” Well, if there was ever a topic about African American history worth mentioning, I’d be hard-pressed to argue anything other than the medical aspect, especially knowing what I know now. I’m not unreasonable; I know that in an ideal scenario the American education system would highlight every injustice, and I also know that is simply an impossibility. My issue stems from the fact that, unlike those wars and battles, I did not know a page worth of information in Medical Apartheid prior to taking this class, and frankly if I hadn’t taken the class I would continue to not know. I believe that’s an injustice to the generations of African Americans whose lives were ruined because of medical practices that completely went against the Hippocratic Oath. I’m a major advocate of the idea that it is better to openly discuss tragedies rather than act as though they never happened. It seems childish to compare, but one of my favorite examples is how Disney addressed the racist depictions in some of their early cartoons. In the Disney animated box set, it begins with Whoopi Goldberg explaining that some of these cartoons have very vulgar and off-putting content, but it is imperative to keep them in the compendium, although they no longer represent the values of Disney. She goes on to say that pretending as if they never happened would be more disrespectful than showing this content. Do I believe that every history teacher I ever had knowingly avoided a discussion about the topics in Medical Apartheid? No, I do not. I do believe however, that there is a severe lack of information being shared. I’m appreciative that I gained insight on this topic, and I hope that the racist medical practices enter the “common knowledge” territory of African American history.

The Zoot Suit Riots

Back in September, while reading Toni Morrison’s Home, we had group discussions in Literature, Medicine, and Racism, as we would continue to for the rest of the semester. In one of these group discussions, we were asked to create a list of questions we had about Parts 1 & 2 of Home. Someone in my group asked the question: “Who is the man in the blue suit that keeps appearing?”

Continue reading “The Zoot Suit Riots”

Untold Stories and Closure

People enjoy stories. The stories themselves don’t have to necessarily be very interesting, or thought-provoking, but there is a certain aesthetic pleasure that is associated with the conclusiveness of a story. Beginning, middle, and end: this commanding structure allows for people to have a sense of closure, a resolution to an issue or event. This is no different when considering relationships between people and their ancestry. Not only is it intriguing, but there is an importance in understanding the lives of the people who came before you. It is quite truly a story, a story that hopefully is easily traceable and offers a conclusion, regardless of what that conclusion is. 

In Nina Golgowski’s Huffington Post article, she explains that as many as 7000 bodies had been found underneath the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The medical center was built on the land that was once property of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum. This asylum hosted 80 years worth of patients, many of which died during their stay, resulted in some being buried in the asylum’s cemetery. This ultimately lead to a substantial amount of uncertainty surrounding what had happened to their ancestors. This provoked many people to ask about asylum records, and the discovery of this burial ground is extremely helpful in garnering more information about their family. This should be a relief for all those who struggled with the lack of knowledge about their family history.

Although quite expensive at $21 million, exhuming and testing these newfound bodies is deemed a necessity considering the amount of ancestors that were never granted the proper closure that they deserve. Why is closure important? At its core, people like knowing things. An undeniably simple statement, but true nonetheless. For some, the uncertainty of what occured to a person of relation is more difficult to deal with than the occurrence itself. In “Zone One” when Mim had gone missing, the group dealt with the added stress of wondering what could have happened to her. Although knowing and witnessing if something had happened to her would’ve been difficult, even that pales in comparison to the hopefulness one has to maintain. 

I agree with the fact that cost is not a factor when dealing with these bodies. These bodies are not just bodies, they are people, with ancestors that care about who they were. To do anything else other than treat them with care would be disrespectful to not only the bodies themselves but also their families. Their story remains unfinished, and held within a burial site. To knowingly ignore the closure that could be attained would be akin to ripping out the last chapter of a novel.

Don’t Forget About Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that is disregarded in society. Nowadays, not only is it misunderstood by most people, it is ignored as well. There are many stereotypes tagged with mental health and they carry more weight than one would imagine. To many people, if you have a mental health issue you are automatically known as weak and unable. So many things can stem from poor mental health including eating disorders, mood disorders, sleeping disorders, depression, anxiety, etc. The most prevalent among humans ages 18-25 is the mental sickness of depression. Since 2009, the percentage of people between the ages I just mentioned reportedly having at least one horrible depression episode rose 63 percent. The massive increase in numbers displays the troubles young people are facing in society today. The question many health experts and the rest of the world are facing today is what is causing this rapid increase of what seems to be a damaged group of people.

Not shining enough light on kids and mental health is not new to the public. Only up until the 1980s would doctors not even test the youth because there brain is still developing and they thought a kid so young wouldn’t be able to be depressed yet. Back then, some naysayers could say that social media wasn’t involved and that could be another reason that there couldn’t be any depressed youth. According to an article I read called Teen Depression is on the Rise, nowadays about 95% of teens have access to smartphones. Access to smartphones and the internet and social media is a lingering topic that a lot of experts have deemed one of the essential roots of teens depression. It is a sense of warmth and activity that stimulates teenagers brains when they’re feeling depressed. Social media comes with social comparison which leads to personal negative thoughts and self shame. 

Another true fact that can alter a humans feelings and mental state is the amount of sleep the human gets. Everyone knows how it feels to wake up after a horrible, sleeplessness, tossing and turning night and vice versa with a perfect and uninterrupted night’s sleep. Insomnia is one of the primary symptoms of depression. During the years of being a teenager, we begin to notice the magnification of life to scale and things like that can keep us up at night. Biological ties have also been proven to be connected to depression. People in your family who are older than you and had some sort of mental health disorder, it is more likely that you are to suffer from some type of poor mental health. Personally, I deal with depression and anxiety and as easy it sounds it took me probably about 10 minutes to write this sentence alone. Teenagers are afraid to admit what is going on inside of them because of what the media has created of our world. Our world is no longer a judge free zone and while some people aren’t affected in the slightest by judgement from other people, others crumble and melt and smile all at the same time. 

Especially during the 21st century, kids are living a different childhood than their parents. People who are parents now really didn’t have a half of the distractions and things to do that kids these days did and still do. Our whole world has morphed into more of a go go go go get things done now type of society. We are all to blame for it and it isn’t one single thing that did this. This is just how time works with human society, things are constantly changing. Poor mental health and mental health disorders can stem from poor sleep, traumatizing life experiences, biologically, or internally. But one thing we as a whole world have to focus more on is teenagers and their mental health.


I pronounce some words in the strangest ways. I come from a small town in downstate New York, but it is NOT New York City. It is a small little town that isn’t even a town, it is a village. I grew up in this town and have lived there my whole life, I have never lived anywhere else. So why do I speak so differently from everyone?

My mom grew up in Long Island, Bay Shore to be exact. She spent her childhood out there and only moved away in her Freshman year of high school. My mom no longer has the famous Long Island accent, but I do. 

Since as long as I can remember, people have always asked me to repeat words and assuming they didn’t hear me, I repeat what I said. They then ask me this THREE more times before I realize they are making fun of me. I say simple words different, such as awesome, chocolate, sauce, dog, and coffee. I add an |AW| sound to each word, so I say dAWg, chAWcolate, and cAWffee. I say syrup and cereal odd as well, sIRup, SIReal. You get the idea, I talk (tAWlk) funny. 

So now you’re probably thinking “so what? Why do I care that you talk weird?”. Well let me tell you, just because I pronounce words differently, does not mean you don’t understand what I’m saying. You still understand when I say I’d like some syrup with my pancakes, or I’d like some cereal for breakfast. Just like when someone is sounding out a word or pronounces it wrong, you still get an idea of what they are trying to say. 

Zone One has a lot, and I mean A LOT of words I have never heard in my life. When reading this I felt like I spent a little less than half my time looking up what these words meant. As an exercise in class, we had to find a word that we didn’t know and look it up and share the definition with the class then Professor McCoy would write it on the whiteboard. A lot of these words were words that classmates had never seen or heard. We all had to sound out some words or even just spell them out for Professor McCoy to tell us the word. 

While we were doing this activity it was interesting to see the words that some people didn’t know that I knew just because of where I came from and because of my major. Zone One had some organism names in the book that I never would have heard about otherwise. One of these words was “spirochete”. This is a bacteria that causes diseases like Lymes disease and syphilis. Without reading this book, and looking this up I would not have known what this was. However, the biology majors in the class knew or had at least heard of this. 

Different backgrounds and places of origin can determine things like the different words we know and the way that we speak. Just like when we were doing our in-class activity, everyone’s different educational backgrounds and the different places everyone came from added to our class discussion. We all learned new words and definitions that we might not have otherwise known. 

While we were trying to sound out these words out, no matter how badly we butchered them, Professor McCoy still knew what we were trying to say. Just like no matter how strangely I say certain words, people will always know what I am trying to say.