Personal Connection between Medical Terms and Race

Being enrolled in this Top Lit: Lit, Medicine, and Racism, I have learned that topics like race and medicine play a role in other aspects of society. I am also enrolled in a Civil Rights course for my Writing Seminar requirement as a freshman, so there have definitely been connections I’ve made between the two classes. What really inspired me to write this blog post is a word that we’ve discussed in this class that I just read in my Civil Rights class. In an excerpt by James Forman titled The Making of Black Revolutionaries, he interviewed Sam Block, a SNCC worker from the Mississippi Delta (**side note: please look up the book I’ve Got the Light of Freedom by Charles M. Payne if you’re interested in making more of a connection with the literature portion of this course). Forman wrote about Peacock’s experience of a town curfew in Clarksdale, Mississippi, which was one of the more dangerous parts of the South because of how outdated their ideologies were. Peacock recounts, “The meeting lasted until after midnight and this was past the curfew hours. All the Black people in Clarksdale had to be off the streets by twelve o’clock every night and we wondering if there would be trouble. The curfew system in Clarksdale seemed to me the most obnoxious insult to Black people I had ever encountered, something out of the slavery days. I was becoming inoculated against the horrors we had to suffer in the United States, yet new forms of insult and degradation could still leave me staggering” (Forman, Sam Block, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, 288). Can you guess where I made my connection?

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Shori and Wright’s Sexual Relationship

While reading Fledgling, I’ve been struggling to accept Shori and Wright’s sexual relationship. When we first meet Shori, Wright thinks she looks about ten or eleven (8). Later, Shori tells Wright she’s pretty sure she’s older and remembers having sex before, and even though she still looks physically young, they have sex (21-22). I think part of that definitely has to do with the venom in her bite which links humans to Ina, but there’s still part of Wright that is attracted to her. This made me feel, for lack of a better word, “icky” because Shori seemed so young. I know we were having conversations about consent in class, and the issue arises because Shori looks like a tween, but is really 53, so technically she can consent, but does that make it okay for Wright to have sex with her?  Butler wants to push us on this, especially when we consider that Shori actually has more power over Wright, so I keep trying not to let myself get caught up in how it bothers me. Even as the book develops, their relationship still makes me uncomfortable because Shori is still very-childlike in her physical appearance.

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My experience with the term race

The first 10 years of my life I lived in a small town in Ukraine. Considering that everyone is white, I never learned what race really meant. I saw people of color on TV but I never put much thought into how their lives differed from mine. However, most of all, I never considered them to be inferior to me. I just considered them to be different than me but that’s as far as that thought went. I then moved to America at the age of 10 and spoke absolutely no English. I was put into an English Second Language to learn English. The diversity of people in the class was enormous. There were people from all over the world and we all looked different. You would think that there would be some sort of culture shock but there wasn’t any at all. We all got along very well and became really good friends even though we could barely speak the same language. Continue reading “My experience with the term race”

A Wound That Cannot Heal

In class last week, Professor McCoy asked the question, “what does it mean when you have a wound that cannot heal.” This question interested me particularly in regards to people who have gone through unique situations and obstacles in life, which very few can relate to. PTSD is something that is seen throughout Morrison’s Home. After returning from war, Frank seems to have lost his meaning for life. In describing his hometown he says Continue reading “A Wound That Cannot Heal”

Ownership and Consent

As a college student in particular, I feel like it is so important to understand the concept of consent.  I feel as though I have been put in many situations where my consent is something that I turn to knowing that I have a right to accept or decline a situation.  However, reading Octavia Butler’s, Fledgling, I have found myself struggling to accept the way in which consent works in the world of the Ina.  Keeping Clay’s Ark in mind, I have to remember that the Ina are not human, therefore their needs in terms of consent are different than those of humans.  Knowing that they need to feed off of humans to survive has been something I learned to keep in mind and accept, yet I realize that Octavia Butler is pushing me beyond my limits of what I am comfortable with. Continue reading “Ownership and Consent”

Our “Good” Deeds

When we were in class talking about medical “voluntourism” it was easy for my classmates and I who were clustered up to talk about how absurd this idea might be. Even reading it, it seems crazy, that a retired police officer was performing circumcisions and delivering babies in these countries that “need it”. Now if you keep reading you learn that it is not really about going to a place that was in dire need of this assistance, but more about the volunteers coming in for their own needs, their need for something good on a resume. Continue reading “Our “Good” Deeds”

Integrating Medical Cultures


In reading Alyssa’s blog post, Home Remedies, she discusses different familial home remedies used in different cultures, such as a special soup when an individual is sick. Other cultural home remedies I have used came to my mind, such as sitting in front of a pot of boiling water to let the steam clear your sinuses, drinking orange juice when you feel a cold coming on, and a cold washcloth on your forehead for a fever. Although these home remedies have some medical backing, they are common treatments passed down through family generations. Different cultures have different home remedies in their cultures. When looking at different families in different cultures, each family will have different remedies when approaching healthcare. These different cultures have different healing practices deep-seated into their society. When medical care from different cultures come in contact with each other, integrating the different medical techniques is often difficult based on the ingrained cultural meaning behind the medical practices. Continue reading “Integrating Medical Cultures”

The Price to Get Ahead

Looking at the most current data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in 2017, less than 50% of applicants that applied to medical school matriculated with a medical school (21,030/53,402). The number of applicants does not even reflect the actual number of those wishing to continue their education in medical school–many other students are unable to apply because they need to pass the prerequisite courses, maintain a competitive GPA, or achieve a good MCAT score. Additionally, high school students, aspiring to be future physicians, attempt to maintain a high GPA and above average SAT scores to apply to schools with programs geared towards pre-meds. With so many high schools students and undergraduate students wanting to pursue a career in medicine, it takes more than just statistics such as their GPA and test scores to reach that goal. Many undergraduate colleges and medical schools look for experiences in medicine that set these applicants apart. Continue reading “The Price to Get Ahead”

Need vs. Morals: Where’s the line in symbiotic relationships?

In response to today’s class, there are a few points I would like to make.

I had stated in class that we, as readers, tend to focus more on the humans. Yes, we are human, and yes, we will read things with a human perspective (obviously). However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot try to grasp or understand a different culture or society, whether it’s between other humans or other species. Humans today have trouble doing that in interactions between different parts of the world, for example, the US and Middle East relations – differences in culture, education and understanding. When we look at the Ina culture in Butler’s Fledgling, they share similar aspects of culture that we do: history, language, use of resources, etc.

Furthermore, when we read this book, a big theme is the idea of mutual symbiosis. The idea that there is a mutually dependent relationship between organisms – in this case, humans and Ina. However, we tend to focus on the power structure and the culture that goes into this complex idea. But let’s start with this: culture aside, the biology of the mutual symbiosis makes them NOT equal – there is a tendency to overlap and make the words “mutual” (held in common by two or more parties) and “equal” (a person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality) one and the same in this text, when they are not synonyms.

I had also stated in class that humans are independent of the Ina, they exist with or without them. Humans can survive, live and thrive without ever becoming a symbiont. However, the Ina NEED something, or someone, to feed on. They are more dependent because of that need. Humans are born independent, the Ina, dependent. Their relationship is not mutually dependent from the get-go, because Ina are the ones in need of this interaction. A person’s need can place them at a disadvantage, which we do see with the Ina, and Shori’s initial relationships with her symbionts. And Locke would advocate this, seeing as his philosophy is based on being able to take what you need without being greedy, and therefore avoiding a state of war.

Culturally speaking, between the Ina and humans, is a different story: the Ina and symbionts have their own culture. There is an understanding of making informed decisions between the two species. And the Ina do explain the circumstances of a new culture, and lifestyle, to them. Then there’s also the point that symbionts talk to other, possible, soon-to-be symbionts. This occurs between Brooke and Wright. Brooke states, “Iosif told me what would happen if I accepted him, that I would become addicted and need him. That I would have to obey. That if he died, I might die . . . But he told me all that. Then he asked me to come to him anyway, to accept him and stay with him because I could live for maybe two hundred years and be healthy and look and feel young, and because he wanted me and needed me. I wasn’t hooked when he asked. He’d only bitten me a couple of times. I could have walked away – or run like hell” (Butler 161). Continue reading “Need vs. Morals: Where’s the line in symbiotic relationships?”