Gallery of Conscience: Blog 2

Full disclosure: I am going to mention a poll that I administered many times in this blog. I posted it on my Instagram and Snapchat to try to get it to reach the most amount of people as possible. The people who participated will remain anonymous, but factors such as their race and age will affect their answers.

Before reading the rest of my blog, feel free to take the survey that I attached above. You will have access to the responses, so you can compare your answers to the other people who took the survey.

Forms response chart. Question title: What is your race?. Number of responses: 78 responses.

Forms response chart. Question title: How old are you?. Number of responses: 80 responses.

I also worked on a podcast called CST discussions with my classmate, Grace Olson. We have 3 episodes so far where we discuss different aspects of racism. You can view the podcast and Grace’s blog by clicking on the links below.

Ok, let’s get into this. Again, I read “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo.

Grace and I talk a lot about the intersectionality between racism and the implications that it has on our government. In episode 2 we talk about voting and how the school-to-prison pipeline puts more people of color in prison and excludes their voices from the voting population. I found this post that was reposted by the author of the book I read that accuses Trump from doing the exact same during the 2020 election. The silencing of these voices has been a constant recurrence in our country and has to be acknowledged to be stopped.

Racism has been normalized. There have always been racist people, but ever since we have had a president who has been so openly racist, many people have kept their views to themselves as to avoid seeming like the minority with their opinion. Since so many people have come out with their opinions, being racist has been treated more acceptable, and standing up to someone when they say/do insensitive things has been less common.

Forms response chart. Question title: Since Trump was elected, it has become __ for people to say racist things/ express racially insensitive views.. Number of responses: 81 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: Since Trump was elected, it has become __ for people to say racist things/ express racially insensitive views.. Number of responses: 81 responses.

Above are some of the graphs I gathered from my poll.

I found a tweet from Oluo that perfectly ties into the part of the book about microaggressions.

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Citizen Map and Blog

To be honest, I thought this project was going to be daunting. I still kind of do because I don’t know how to explain my thought process when I don’t even understand what I am thinking.

The way the book, Citizen – An American Lyric, is laid out in my head is all a jumble. The book is a collection of stories, poems, and passages that left me thinking. I was stumped on how I was going to make a ‘map’ of the story, when I was lost in the words of the pages themselves.

Why was I so lost? Why was this book in particular so hard to understand for me?

I feel guilty.

I don’t know why but I do. I feel bad that I feel guilty but I do.

Why do I have the privilege to not be able to understand or connect some of these stories to my own life? Why do other people have to experience these things just because of their race, socioeconomic status, or stereotypes set by the corrupt society we live in. 

In Citizen, page 134 has a list of people whose murder was instigated by our racist country. I was not shocked to know some of the names, but I was disgusted at myself for not knowing the other names. These people were wrongfully murdered because of a society that I live in. I buy things. I pay taxes. Those taxes help contribute to this society and prolong this system of oppression that has killed some people whose voices are suppressed by the media and people in power.

“We are drowning” – And yet no one seems to care. I am guilty that I am contributing to a society that has allowed such discrimination to exist for years.

As a citizen of the United States and of the world, I feel we have the responsibility to stand up for those who are pushed down. I think the reason why I feel guilty is because I am in a position where I can use my voice to empower others and create change, however I feel stuck. The personalization of the book – by using “you” instead of “I” or “they”, allowed for me to see the first hand implications that the state of our country have on Black Americans. I feel guilty that my privilege allows me to not feel the effects of systemic racism first hand, but after I now have done some of the work towards my education, I can answer some of these questions and learn about others perspectives and lived experiences.

Here’s a little bit of a description about the way I laid out my piece:

  • I tore the paper in half because there is a disconnect between me and the text. My lived experiences do not align with those in the book, so I feel as hard as I try to reach out and learn, I never truly will know what it is like.
  • I wrote “you” in big letters because that is what differentiated this book from other books about race for me. I read, “So You Want To Talk About Race” for my Gallery of Conscience book, but that book is not written in second person, so I can not as easily put myself in the position of the person who is writing.
  • The side of the paper that has a lot of drawings and writing is the side of the book. The other side that just has me is very plain. The lines that connect the two sides in the attempt at connection, but inability to do so.

Gallery of Conscious: Blog 1

This year I have learned so much about the racial disparities in our country. I always knew the history of racial oppression, but this year I have learned the importance of breaking out of my “Northbrook bubble” and learning about how others’ lived experiences are influenced by their race and the race of those they surround themselves with. Before choosing to read “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, I flipped through the pages and saw the chapter names. At first, some of the chapters seemed obvious to me. Chapter two is titled “What is Racism?”. I thought that I knew what racism was because we talk about it so much in class and I have read so much about it this year. Immediately after thinking this, I thought – wait. I was skipping over the chapter of 14 pages so quickly just because I have done my research on some of the racist actions in recent years. Those 14 pages could be filled with a completely different perspective and definition of what racism is, and I first thought I could just skip it based on my previous knowledge. I decided to choose this as my book so I could learn more about people’s experiences of racism and how I can be anti-racist in a structurally racist society.

Photo via Amazon

Of course, I had an idea of what topics this book would cover. Just by looking at the chapters I knew it would walk through beginnings of what Black people experience in America while integrating ways to improve society as we know it. However as I ventured deeper into the book, a whole new series of questions arose in my head as the experiences and true nature of our racist society became clear to me. In the first 30 pages, Oluo laid out a clear definition of racism that she would use for the rest of her book.

“Racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power” (Oluo 26).

Photo by me 🙂

Racism and The Pandemic

For my second SAMO, I wanted to learn more about the lived experience of Black people living in the United State. Systemic racism has plagued our society by putting Black people at an immediate disadvantage from the second they are born. For my third SAMO, I wanted to further investigate this current issue and see the implications that systemic racism has had on the healthcare industry. Specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced so many people’s lives to turn upside, and at the same time, societal differences exacerbated.

While watching the news, I always hear about the dramatic differences in the percentages of death based on race.

1.4x cases, 3.7x hospitalizations, 2.8x deaths

COVID-19 Disparities in the Black/African American Community

These statistics disgusted me as both a student as a human being. I was confused at why one group of people were put in the position where they were subjected to be sick, hospitalized, and possibly die than other groups of people.

WHY ARE MINORITIES MORE LIKELY TO GET COVID-19

My first thought on this topic was why Black individuals are more susceptible to get COVID-19. My questioning led me to a webinar, given by Damani Piggott, MD, PHD, who works for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, called COVID-19 Disparities in the Black/African American Community. Piggott listed multiple reasons for why Black individuals have a higher rate of infection. I highly recommend this webinar because it was really interesting and gave me an interesting insight to the medical side of the health disparities.

Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Socailization explain that, “it is not a coincidence that the United States is suffering from these results today; rather it is a logical outcome of our embracing the status quo, without thinking or challenging” (6). Since we haven’t taken direct action to change very impactful industries, people still act with the disregard for the change that we have made as a society to be more equal.

First, more African Americans hold positions that are considered ‘frontline’ or ‘essential,’ and therefore are put at a higher risk of coming into contact with someone who has Covid. These jobs in the foodservice, transportation, security, environmental management services, healthcare industries, put the people who work tirelessly to keep their jobs at such an uncertain time at a much higher risk to get COVID-19. 

Ability to work at home based on race: Asian 37%, White 29.9%, Black 19.7%, Latinx 16.2%

COVID-19 Disparities in the Black/African American Community

Secondly, Black people have an increased rate of underlying health conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, chronic kidney disease, and obesity. These facts are often overlooked by healthcare workers. When Black individuals aren’t assisted with the known fact that they can be susceptible to these issues, then that can be a recipe for disaster and can lead to death.

Third, I investigated how long standing social disparities continue to fuel health inequity. These societal disparities include income, employment, housing, food security, education, transportation, incarceration, access to health systems and services. In a medical journal, written by Leonard E. Egede, M.D., and Rebekah J. Walker, Ph.D, called Structural Racism, Social Risk Factors, and Covid-19, it mentions how Black americans have a higher chance of contracting COVID-19 due to the greater likelihood of living in inner cities with high population density. I recommend giving this journal a read. It isn’t that long but it has a lot of good information about the current implications of our world today.

As a student, I look towards all of this information and I am disappointed. I understand that I am very lucky to be in an area where I have the space to social distance with my peers and the education to teach me how important it is to stay safe. Now when I look at the news and see the high statistics of African Americans contracting COVID-19, I will understand the reasonings for that high number. Instead of jumping to conclusions like the rest of our country could be doing, by taking a step against biases and stereotypes, I researched and learned the true reasons why the numbers were so staggering and I learned that many choices people made were not up to them because they didn’t have many choices offered.

WHY ARE MINORITIES MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM COVID-19

Next, I began to question why the death rates for Black Americans are so high as compared to Americans of other races. This question took me down the rabbit hole of healthcare inequalities that have sadly become so prevalent in our society. To first understand racism in the healthcare system, I had to understand the difference between racism and placism.

First, an example of racism in the healthcare industry, as explained by J. Nwando Olayiwola in a Ted Talk called Combating Racism and Place-ism in Medicine, is a Black woman being treated worse than a White woman in a hospital. While it can seem surreal to think that a doctor, a person who trained their whole life to help other people, would be so rash and result in hurting people. However, I learned that this mistreatment is actually very common.

– Black women are 3-4x more likely to die from pregnancy than White women

– Black individuals are 50% less likely to have medical intervention when experiencing chest pains

– If a Black baby is being treated by a White physician, they statistically have a higher chance of dying or experiencing complications

– A doctor is more likely to discount or discredit a person’s pain if they are Black rather than White

Next, is placism in the healthcare industry which is widely overlooked. Placism is ignorance of a person’s place on their health. Surprisingly, 80% of a person’s determinant of health is based off of where they live.

In the Ted Talk, Olayiwola explained placism while showing the true implications of placism on the real life expectancies of people in Ohio.

It was insane to see how places that are not that far away from each other have a huge gap in life expectancy. People who lived six miles away from each other had a sixteen year age gap in life expectancy. 


This information didn’t sit well with me. Ross Snyder’s, “The Person Sitting Next to You” claims that, “the person sitting next to you is a cluster of memories of the past and expectations of the future. He is really a whole colony of persons, of people met all during a life.” This literally illustrates the graphic above, just on a larger scale. The person sitting next to you, or more literally, a few miles away from you, is a “luster of memories of the past and expectations of the future,” however, those “memories” and “expectations” may differ dramatically depending on the location that one lives in, even if those locations are very close together.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP CHANGE THIS

It is horrible that some people have to put this lives at risk in order to provide for themselves and their family. Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Liberation, explains the process of liberating one’s self from their previous predispositions and allowing them to grow into a new and more informed person. Harro states, “Often the first part of the process … involves consciously dismantling and building aspects of ourselves and our worldviews based on our new perspectives” (4). Now that I had learned this new information, I had to take action.

I will be sure to use every tool I have available to fight the pandemic. That means wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, and getting vaccinated when possible. Our actions that we can take as a community can mitigate some of the impacts that the pandemics have on other individuals.

“Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”

Martin Luther King Jr.

I learned the true implications that the lack of education can have on the health of Black individuals. Doctors are supposed to be here to help others and fix them. Since some healthcare professionals have not been trained on how to think twice when they see someone’s race or where they are from, we as a community can try to change that custom. We need to force doctors to do no harm and force them to think about it. Below is a suggestion from Combating Racism and Place-ism in Medicine where Olayiwola explained that if doctors had to physically check a button that they didn’t want to change a person’s medication because of her race then that would force them to make the conscious decision to be racist.

When choosing this topic for my SAMO, I knew the numbers were staggering, but I didn’t know why. This door I opened led me down a pathway that forced me to look into every part of the healthcare industry and see why Black individuals were put at such a disadvantage during this pandemic. I now will go into every day understanding how lucky I am to have the choice to come in person to school or to stay home because I now understand that some people want to stay home but can’t in order to pay the bills. Going into conversations in the future, I can now have an understanding of some people’s current experiences and empathize with them. During this pandemic we are all going through hard times and the only way to get through it is to work together. By doing my part by educating myself about other people’s current position, I am just taking a small step towards making society one force that will fight this pandemic together.

As an ally I need to be conscious of these inequalities and be educated in order to have a productive conversation when needed. While I understand that I can never truly speak for the Black community because I have never lived the same experience, I can do my best to educate myself and educate others on the reality of our world and do the best to change it.

Letter of Concern

I regretfully have never been that into the environment or conservation movements. I knew that plastic was bad and garbage was being thrown into the ocean, but I never knew the true extent of this practice until I had to choose an issue for my letter of concern. For my lake presentation, I was assigned Lake Michigan as my body of water, and that is what brought the amount of pollution in the water to my attention. As I continued to research the extreme nature of this tarnishing practice on the water, I knew something had to be done. I chose to write to the Mayor of Chicago because I thought that they would have some power in controlling the topic of conversation towards this issue. I was able to brainstorm many ways for our community to join together and change our practices. Since I have done this research, I hope to live my life while being more conscious that my actions have on the environment. Also, I now will use my voice to speak out more when I see practices that are unjust. Hopefully, I will get a response and action will be taken to move forward with some of the suggestions I made in my letter to change the current harmful actions that have become normal in our everyday lives. I will be more of a progressive human being and speak out against injustices and fight for what is right.

Healing

  • Background from CamStock Photo

    “When love is unreliable and you are a child, you assume that it is the nature of love – its quality – to be unreliable. Children do not find fault in their parents until later. In the beginning, the love you get is the love that sets” (Winterson 76).

  • “When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she said, “The Devil led us to the wrong crib” (Winterson 9).

  • “Parent-child attachment has implications for developing healthy relationships later in life.

    LGBT youth may experience a disruption in parent-child attachment if they are rejected based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Parental rejection of LGBT youth negatively affects youths’ identity and health.

    Parental acceptance of LGBT youth is crucial to ensure that youth develop a healthy sense of self.”

    LGBT Youth and Family Acceptance

  • Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Socialization

    “Immediately upon our births we begin to be socialized by the people we love and trust the most, our families or the adults who are raising us. They shape our self-concepts and self perceptions, the norms and rules we must follow, the roles we are taught to play, our expectations for the future, and our dreams” (Harro 17).

  • “I was a woman. I was a working-class woman. I was a woman who wanted to love women without guilt or ridicule. Those three things formed the basis of my politics, not the unions, or the class war as understood by the male Left” (Winterson 133).

  • Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Liberation

    “Liberation is the practice of love. It is developing a sense of self that we can love, and learning to love others with their differences from us,” (Harro 8).

  • Via Ryan Sallans on Youtube

  • Via Shutterstock

    “We have to be willing to admit that we’re not capable of figuring things out alone” (Wheatley 2).

  • Artist Statement:

    At the heart of one’s socialization lies insecurity and fear.  The way a person is socialized can impact the level of their insecurity and self perception. If a person is raised in an environment that makes them feel like a nuisance or they are constantly pushed to be something that they are not, then that insecurity can play a bigger role in that person’s life, therefore causing them to be a less happy person. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, if a parent rejects their child’s identity when they come out, it “negatively affects youths’ identity and health.” This therefore disturbs a child’s ability to construct the basic skills used to create lasting relationships in their childhood, and as they age to adulthood. This permanent impact of parent neglect can have chilling effects on the beliefs the child has on their identity and the hope they believe they could have for the future. Again, Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Socialization is an endless cycle that can be transformed at different stages of a person’s life. If a child is neglected so much that they lack the ability to love someone, it takes a very caring person to hold their hand and teach them the love that they were lacking all throughout their childhood. Although one may experience great loss and abuse, with love from others, they can always heal their wounds and learn how to love themselves again.