How Hard Is Perfect?

In Zone One, Mark Spitz deals with a feeling of mediocrity throughout his childhood and adult life. He describes himself as a B-student, always meeting just the minimum to scoot by without worry of failure or high expectations for above-average achievement, “He was not made team captain, nor was he the last one picked. He sidestepped detention and honor rolls with equal aplomb.” (Whitehead, 11) Although Mark Spitz describes himself as mediocre, we can see through his talent at demolishing the plagued zombies of this new world that he isn’t as mediocre as he likes to believe. The other day I came across a piece of information discussing what is called the “imposter syndrome” and I immediately thought of Mark Spitz. Continue reading “How Hard Is Perfect?”

“life got in the way”

When I was writing my final self-evaluation for this class, I was trying to write what I thought about my attention to blog posts. After writing about how my quality of work has changed and grown since the beginning of the semester for a sentence or two, I then went on to talk about my pacing and said, “I tried stay on top of my blog posts at the beginning of the semester, but life got in the way,” and for some reason this really stuck out to me after I wrote it down. Continue reading ““life got in the way””

Disparity in Pain Management due to Racial Biases

Earlier in the semester, we listened to a podcast that shed light on the “backfire effect” which is the idea that people who hold deeply rooted opinions are not going to change even when presented facts. Rather, these facts actually make the person feel more confident in themselves because they doubt the source of information. Myth-based beliefs and biases can be stronger than proven ones. Eventually however, when presented with enough mounting evidence, people eventually come around and accept the new fact as true. This last caveat is important as it ultimately means that ignorance can be overshadowed by truth, as it just takes a patient, concerted effort.

Blacks and whites have experienced systematically different treatment by the medical community, as outlined in class and class readings. However, more seemingly benign disparities that were never mentioned in class add up. For example, black Americans have been proven to be under treated for pain relative to whites. While this is not the workings of a certain entity trying to systematically oppress blacks for no reason, it has been systemic nonetheless. This manifests itself in part because physicians might assume that black patients are more likely to abuse the medication, or because they fail to realize that pain medication is necessary.

A study derived from was conducted at the University of Virginia, and found that the differences in pain medication prescriptions result, in part, from white medical students holding false beliefs about African Americans. In the University study, white medical students were surveyed on whether they believe various beliefs (false) about race and then asked them the pain levels they would associate with different, mock medical scenarios. These false beliefs include that African Americans skin is thicker than whites and that their blood coagulates more quickly. Other false beliefs include that black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than whites and that blacks age slower than whites (reference to idiom “black don’t crack”). These false beliefs are not predicated on facts, and they can therefore be overrode. In the University study, at least half the sample of white medical students believed in one of the false beliefs stated above. The study ultimately found that those who did not hold any false beliefs did not show any evidence of discrimination in treatment. This suggests that systemic racism, no matter what domain it is found in, can be eliminated, but only after confronting and proving wrong the false belief that predicates it.

The Collective Course Statement Assignment: What I Learned


At the beginning of this course, I was not expecting the collective course statement to take the shape that it did. I imagined it would turn out more like a PowerPoint presentation where we would assemble into our little groups, work on our solutions for a few class days, and then give small group presentations to the whole class via one of Microsoft Office’s oldest pieces of software. However, this is not at all how this project turned out, and I’m so grateful for that.

Continue reading “The Collective Course Statement Assignment: What I Learned”

The Curtain Fall: Reflection

This is the end. The semester is wrapping up and finals are around the corner. However; this is also a time for reflection. A time to recollect our thoughts and mull over what we have learnt through the semester. Indeed, the Fall 2017 English 101 class covered interdisciplinary issues spanning from race to medicine through the lens of literature. We read books/articles/short stories spanning genres from science fiction to non-fiction. Nevertheless, our conversation would always be in tandem with relevant issues effecting today’s world. Issues spanning systemic racism, the dangers of medical voluntourism to sustainability. Throughout the course, we were able to tie ideas and concepts back to unseeming ideas and justify our findings using textual evidence. Valuable skill earned: To be able to realize interconnectness. I remember participating in the final collective brainstorming exercise and how I wanted my statement to reflect all of the questions I hoped would remain with me and my fellow coursemates. I recorded “intersectionality is a profound concept that appears and will always appear in our daily lives. Everything is connected and nothing lives in isolation. Through every sphere of life, racism can cut through often as intentional and even so directional towards a selected group of people. Even as mere fiction and fabrication, race is perpetuated across spheres like law, medicine, business, government across others. At the end of the day, can we connect the dots? Can we recognize and analyze the staying power and hubris that comes with privilege? Is medical apartheid a real concept even in today’s world? How do we know and how do we call it out with supporting evidence? At the end of the day, epistemophilia as an adopted methodology to finding solutions should/will be a resounding answer” (Adaeze, 2017. )

However, I have come to realise that some of these questions might have no answers. still, I will continue to ask more questions while reflecting on previously asked questions. The world is not black and white hence it’s complexity. Singular views should be discouraged and multiple perspectives should be employed to issues. Perhaps, getting closer to realised solutions is more important than merely seeking answers. Call out systemic racism and advocate for social justice in whatever capacity you can. Recycle and try to save the planet. Untrained medical students should think twice about programs offering to let them volunteer and perform medical procedures in a developing country. In order to advance intellectually and work as best as you can; employ critical thinking and reflection strategies. While critical thinking requires thinking deeply, identifying problems and proposing solutions; reflection helps an individual reach into their capacity after the noise dies. Just like monks reflect and meditate to gain a higher learning and to get to a higher state of spirituality , writers need to reflect to reach higher states of their creativity and higher learning of themselves and their skills as writers. Reflection is like a healing balm that soothes the mind while enhancing writing with its valuable outputs and results. This is not the end. We are continually learning and gaining awareness on important issues happening around us. It is not enough to merely listen but it is essential to process and reflect on what has been heard. If learning never stops; then reflection has no limit. Scour through your mind for the seemingly insignificant yet useful pieces, connect the dots as much as you can and let your mind soar. There is no height too impossible to achieve if an individual puts their mind to it. Reflection: Put your mind to it.

A Dream Turned Nightmare

As a child I was always interested in novels based around worlds of fantasy and science fiction, anything that showed a spark of magic amidst the boring world of reality. I spent my time reading of heroes conquering beasts and monsters, ending in the hero saving the world or humanity. I always hoped that something out of the ordinary would happen and I, myself, would be presented with the opportunity to be become one of the heroes I idolized. Zone One is an example of one of the stories I would have picked up expecting to experience the journey and toil of a hero overcoming a large otherworldly problem, had I discovered this book on my own I would have been disappointed considering Zone One is the exact opposite.

Mark Spitz talks about how he too had always hoped for an adventurous adult life, “as a kid he’d invented scenarios for adulthood: to outrun a fireball, swing across the air shaft on a wire, dismember a gargoyle army with an enchanted blade that only he could wield.” (Whitehead 244)  It is kind of a sick joke that Mark Spitz gets his adventure, just in the form of a plague that wipes out all of civilization, including those he cares about. This makes me rethink my wish for a life out of the ordinary, I feel a sort of appreciation for how easy I have it. If a zombie plague were to happen right now, I have a pretty good idea of how it would go down for me. I think I would end up returning to my family and try to survive it with them until one us ended up infected. If I were the first one to go, I’d die, but if it was one of my family members I predict we’d all get infected because we’d wait too long trying to live out his or her last moments of life and be bitten. I want to say I’d be a survivor like Mark Spitz and his sweeper unit, but if I want to be true to the novel with my prediction, I know I lack the the willpower to pull the trigger on a walking corpse.

From this joke that Whitehead plays on Mark Spitz’s character I gain a new form of respect for his resilience in the time of the plague. Mark Spitz acknowledges the irony of his situation, but rather than dwell on it he finds humor in it, “All the other kids turned out to be postal workers, roofers, beloved teachers, and died. Mark Spitz was living the Dream! Take a bow, Mark Spitz.” (244) yeah, Mark Spitz is living in the zombie apocalypse, but at least he’s not dead.

Bill Mckibben and the reality of our actions

On September 30th, Bill McKibben, the founder of visited the SUNY Geneseo campus and spoke about the major problems and contributions of climate change. He spoke about how there has been immense changes with climate/weather in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, he spoke about the issues with climate change and how many people working within the political system will brush off these issues. Something that resonated with me was that he said “we have to take action now and do something about it now.” He said this because people are often uneducated about the growing problems with climate change. Once they learn about the harms, the next step it to work on fixing the problem and looking for solutions. Even though McKibben wants to educate others about the dangers and what contributes to climate change, people will refuse to believe this and turn their cheek the other way.

Continue reading “Bill Mckibben and the reality of our actions”

Why do we play the race card with children?

Let Black Kids Just Be Kids says that “People of all races see black children as less innocent, more adult-like and more responsible for their actions than their white peers.”

Not My Bone’s by Marilyn Nelson says “I was not this body, I was not these bones, This skeleton was just my temporary home… You can own a man’s body, but you cant own his mind. You are not your body”(25).

When people view others by race, they aren’t accepting their internal characteristics as a human being; especially with children. The internal characteristics that human beings withhold are what should capture another person’s attention the most.If a child isn’t acting in the way that you want them to behave or expect them to behave you can’t really blame them, you can only blame the parents and their environment.

If you are a teacher that has a black student in their class, you shouldn’t teach them or treat them any different from the Asian boy or the white girl in the class. In doing so you are only reciprocating to societies standards and not improving yourself as another human being on this planet. We are all human, live on the same planet and in order to continue sharing the environment in which we all live in, we have to learn that we are not our bodies.

We can’t continue to place our complexions in to categories and separate people economically and financially just by their appearance.

Black children are just as innocent as white children. Children are children. The issue that I think that this article is pointing at is that white children happen to be a lot more protected in regard to money or opportunities. As of 2014 according to Black Demographics, “African American Income”, majority of African Americans make between $35,000-$100,000 a year. White household incomes according to “Demographic trends and economic well-being”, make between “$50,000-100,000”.

White households have a head start on making higher salaries because many happen to have money passed down to them. Many happen to get in to better universities, can afford to attend high end schools and programs from a young age. The list goes on, but historically African Americans are still at a disadvantage for opportunity and are still treated differently from white people.

These differences shouldn’t create a deviate the treatment towards any one, especially children. White and black children are innocent no matter what their conditions are like.

Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”