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December 3, 2022

 

Reducing disparities in healthcare

This article states that the AMA (American Medical Association) is working to reduce discrimination in healthcare through physician guidelines, proving articles and videos for healthcare providers to use, and making sure patients and doctors have awareness of their rights. However, they are not doing enough. They show the history of anti-discrimination efforts and describe how they had a committee to ensure anti-discrimination, but it got dissolved in 2016. I think they are not doing nearly enough to prevent discrimination, and should be taking more steps to ensure equality.


“America Means” Blog Post

America’s influence around the world is notorious and undeniable. From clothing to culture to music, the word “America” buzzes in the mouths of people around the world. Consequently, people arrive here expecting a warm embrace from this haven. But, when face to face with America, it’s notably different than what one would expect it to be. Once the pretty layers are peeled back, a dark history bubbles to the surface. In Dr. Kendi’s incredibly written essay “Denial is the Heartbeat of America.”, he flawlessly explains one of America’s major problems. Its affinity for hiding the truth. This action of hiding is what subliminally advocates for the racial violence that is rampant across America. Dr. Kendi effectively peels back layers of America’s pretty exterior to get to its questionable interior.  “Has American denial blinded Americans from seeing what has happened in their country over the past year in states across the land, on social-media apps across the internet?” (Page 2) He makes strong points as to how we can begin to heal the wounds that lie underneath the surface. In my opinion, Dr.Kendi has shown America through a lens many people refuse to look through at all. He presents America without the sugar coating and presents a problem. I find this to be quite necessary, because as a colored person in America, as a child of immigrants, I am aware that the America I’m in will never quite be the same as the America where my white peers dwell. 

 Yet with so many people and so many perspectives, the idea of America is illustrated in books, stories, and experiences in a variety of shades. Take, for example, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s renowned novel “The Great Gatsby.” It includes an agglomeration of themes but one that is striking is the recurring theme of the “American Dream.” After reading both Denial is the Heartbeat of America and The Great Gatsby I can confidently say that Jay Gatsby resides in a different America than the one of Dr.Kendi. When not residing in his opulent home or throwing colossal parties that permeate into the night, Gatsby is out and around town in his canary yellow Rolls-Royce. Shortly after being caught in a tangle with a police officer due to speeding, Gatsby is let go after receiving an apology from the officer. This particular section of the book led to my comparison of Gatsby’s America and the America that Dr.Kendi describes in his essay. In 2020, police-related racially-motivated violence has been rife. While people are left to pay with their lives, Gatsby can evade the situation without a scratch. This example here is a clear representation of the “Two Americans.” Unfortunately, the harsh truth is that the way America treats an individual is highly dependent on factors such as race and wealth. 

 The America where one’s chances of success simmer down to their race and wealth is described in Langston Hughes’ riveting poem Let America Be America Again.  Like Fitzgerald, Hughes emphasizes the idea of the American Dream. However, instead of focusing on the manifestation of the American Dream in the lives of people like Jay Gatsby, he focuses on the people who were robbed of their opportunities. “Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme. That any man be crushed by one above. (It was never America to me.) (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”) In this quote, Hughes explains that he never received America as it was advertised. That the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution paint a beautiful picture of America that Hughes is not able to enjoy. That these documents not only shut people out but also hide the truth. The truth that Dr.Kendi hopes Americans will acknowledge.

All the sources mentioned above are vivid in their explanations of America, and bring light to the topic of educating people about America, specifically, American literature. As I’ve explained in my writing, there is no singular way to describe an American experience to someone. It’s clear that to present America’s past, present, and future, we need a conglomeration of projects. We need pieces from individuals that have embarked on different walks of life. This here is the only way to catch a glimpse of the un-polished America. The true America.

 I can say without hesitation that my personal experience as a young POC has had an impact on the way I see these sources and the way I see America. While I am tremendously grateful for every opportunity I’ve been given in America I am aware that as a young woman of color there are constructs out there simply made to break me down. This is something that needs to change. As a people, it’s vital that we peel back the layers and see this country for what it truly is. We need to understand that America is not the same for every individual. It’s time we live up to the echoing words of the Constitution and Declaration that ring in every American’s ear. 

Works Cited

  1. Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby (Scribner Classics). Classic, Scribner, 1996.
  2. Hughes, Langston “Let America Be America Again” 1994. The Estate of Langston Hughes https://poets.org/poem/let-america-be-america-again
  3. Kendi, Ibram. “Denial Is the Heartbeat of America.” The Atlantic, 27 Jan. 2021, www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/denial-heartbeat-america/617631

Seeking Racial Justice

In the article, “Speaking Out About Race,” five teenagers wrote essays voicing the need to build an antiracist society.  The essays come from five distinct teenagers with the goal to critically make society be more informed and educated to make differences to better their own communities. To forward action, rallies are formed so that the message of racial justice is spoken for.  These five students explain how they take action in different ways to fight for racial justice.

Pressing for change in the education system is significant.  The younger generations lead to be the influencers of upcoming generations so it is important that they are being educated correctly about diversity within races.  Regardless of segregation being a time of the past, it can still be seen through the neighborhoods that are considered “rich” or the neighborhoods seen as “poor”.  Racism needs to stop being ignored but confronted and voiced.

What can the young people do to make a change?


The Stigma of Mental Illness and Race in America

Although America is looked at as a melting pot and an accepting nation we have always kept it in the back of our minds that this isn’t exactly true. Americans truly are not as accepting as others think. People with mental illness, physical illness or people of different races and cultures are treated as less than those who are “Perfect”. In this argument we will take a look at different articles, books, and movies that take a look into how people of different races, cultures, or people with mental illness and physical illness are treated in the united states. 

The movie Joker that came out this year is a huge controversy in the United States right now. It focuses on the life story of a beloved movie villain, Joker. The story follows the life of Aurthur Fleck who struggles with PBA caused by brain trauma from when he was little. PBA stands for Pseudobulbar affect which causes uncontrollable outbursts of laughter or crying at “inappropriate times”. Due to his mental illness Fleck is judged by others and made fun of because of his uncontrollable laughter. He feels as if he is less than human because others treat him that way. He cannot get a good job and instead has to work as a party clown because that is the only job he can get. However, he is fired from his job due to his boss not understanding his mental illness. This leads to Fleck snapping and abandoning his medications and slowly going insane and turning to violent tendencies which eventually leads him to become Joker (Joker).  This really shows how people with mental illness are treated as less because others dont understand their mental illness and so they are scared of them and do not give them jobs or even a chance to prove themselves. Americans look at people with mental illness as less because they have to take medications to be “normal”. “Far more than any other type of illness, mental disorders are subject to negative judgements and stigmatization” (Rössler). This quote shows that people with mental illness are looked at as violent and scary just because they are different, but having a mental illness doesn’t make you violent or scary, you’re human too and you should have all the rights as all the other Americans but, in the end, you don’t. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a book about a young Native American boy, Arnold Spirit, that transfers to an all white school. It talks about his struggles going to his new school and shows how her is treated as less than the white kids just because he is Indian (Alexie). A lot like the movie Joker this book talks about how people who are different are treated as less, however, this book talks about race instead of mental illness. The struggle with race and mental illness are very similar, both have struggles with finding a good job, keeping a job, and being treated the same as “normal Americans”. Just as people with mental illness, people of a different race can be looked at as violent and scary just because they look different. Arnold and the rest of the Native Americans are looked at as violent by the other Americans due to stereotypes about their race just like how Fleck is looked at as violent because of his PBA.

In the end we can see that all Americans are not treated the same despite what we are told. Even if you are considered an American you might be treated differently due to mental illness or being of a different race. We can see this through many different articles, books, and even movies that have been made throughout the years.

Works cited

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Boston, New York, Little, Brown and Company, 2007.  

Joker. Directed by Todd Phillips, performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Warner Brothers 2019.

Rössler, Wulf. “The Stigma of Mental Disorders” NCBI, 28 Jul. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5007563/. Accessed 15 Oct. 2019.  


Racial Discrimination

My topic revolved around Racial Discrimination and through prior knowledge I know that it is a very serious topic. I picked up on this specific matter because I felt like the reasoning for this occurrence was very mindless and idiotic. Discriminating a certain people based on their color of skin seems very ignorant. The fact that these sort of instances are still going on in the world today shows how we still have a lot to progress to.

I didn’t know much about the topic, especially the specifics. All I knew was that it was a serious topic that is heavily controversial and talked about particularly in this day and age. I knew that there were a lot of people advocating for awareness about the situation and that there were a lot of issues especially concerning the police and their heavy brutality. There have been a lot of instances involving white cops and black victims who were suspected of a crime and were either arrested or beaten over accusations that were just speculation. This sparked outrage amongst the people and has led to several movements. I was also aware of the people who are enemies of reform. The most common being neo-nazis and even more obvious the Ku Klux Klan. They thrive on racial discrimination, it’s the basis of their organization. Both institutions have a strong hatred for basically everyone, blacks, whites, Christians, Muslims, Jews, the list goes on, and they are dead set on achieving their goals through any means necessary.

I now know that there are many types of discrimination that occur in the world, not just racial. There is direct discrimination where you’re treated differently and worse than someone else for certain reasons. There is also indirect discrimination where there is a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some people than others, because of race, age, etc. Additionally, there is victimization which is the action of singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment, this ties in with racial discrimination and racism perfectly.

Photo by Johnny Silvercloud


Cacausia and Interracial Relationships

Cacausia is book written by Danzy Senna about the story of Birdie Lee, a multiracial girl, and her journey to discover herself as a black girl. The novel focus on racial passing and the identity of her race.

Birdie’s parents, Deck and Sandy Lee, were a interracial couple that married before the passing of Loving v. Virgina. Loving v. Virginia as stated by Tom Head in Interracial Marriage Laws History & Timeline, was “The Supreme Court unanimously overturns Pace v. Alabama (1883), ruling in Loving v. Virginia that state bans on interracial marriage violate the 14th amendment of the US Constitution.”  Since Deck and Sandy married before this law was passed, this sprouted a conflict in that Sandy believed that she was being hunted by the FBI.

Many black people who are lighter in complexion can sometimes pass for being white. An account told in Karen Grigsby Bates “A chosen exile: Black People Passing in White America” tells a story of a black woman living in California as a white woman with a white family. Leading this type of life left her unable to get into contact with black family. Birdie in Caucasia faces a similar dilemma in that she had pass as a white Jewish girl so that she and her mom wouldn’t get caught by the feds.

Cacausia was written with a setting in the 70’s, where the legalization interracial marriage was more recent. According to Hansi Lo Wang’s “Steep Rise in Interracial Marriages Among Newlyweds 50 Years After They Became Legal,” interracial marriage has risen from three percent to seventeen percent, at least quintupling by 2015.  Of all people to marry outside of their own race, Asian and Latino people are the most likely with the rates of 46 and 39 percent respectively.

 

Bates, Karen Grigsby. “’A Chosen Exile’: Black People Passing In White America.” NPR, NPR, 7 Oct. 2014, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/10/07/354310370/a-chosen-exile-black-people-passing-in-white-america.

Head, Tom. “How Interracial Marriage Laws Have Changed Since the 1600s.” ThoughtCo, www.thoughtco.com/interracial-marriage-laws-721611.

Wang, Hansi Lo. “Steep Rise In Interracial Marriages Among Newlyweds 50 Years After They Became Legal.” NPR, NPR, 18 May 2017, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/05/18/528939766/five-fold-increase-in-interracial-marriages-50-years-after-they-became-legal.


American Leaders, Your Attention Please

Dear Leaders of America,

Hello, my name is Jesus Sanchez and I’m a student attending Fremont High School in the 11th grade, located in Oakland. Growing up as a teenager in America has been pretty good for me, so far. Personally, I’ve never experienced racial slurs being said to me, but just because it has never happened to me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to other kids my age.

Which is why racism is one the issues I want you to prioritize on. Racism has been a part of this world for years now and I want it to end already. I’m sure other people can agree with me on that. No one likes to be put down by others and racism does exactly that. It could also leave people without jobs and that leads up to starving families. In some cases, it could cause people to commit suicide.

A solution I think might help, is to make illegal to say. Sure, there’s freedom of speech but making a couple words illegal wouldn’t hurt anybody. The future I wish for America to have one day is where racism has completely disappeared. With everyone getting along with each other, regardless of their different cultures and beliefs. I really hope you think about it and take action.

Sincerely,

Jesus Sanchez

Photo by pasa47


Hypocrisy of White America in “Sowers and Reapers”

Throughout “Sowers and Reapers,” Kincaid uses the metaphor of gardens to point out the hypocrisy of the way white America has treated African Americans. This can at first been seen when Kincaid describes a garden she saw while in Charleston, North Carolina in the park, there was a statue of John Caldwell Calhoun, former U.S. Vice-President and founder/supporter of the term “states’ rights” (a euphemism for the preservation of slavery). Kincaid writes, “In the little park across the way, a statue of John Caldwell Calhoun, that inventor of the rhetoric of states’ rights and the evil encoded in in, who was elected vice president of the United States twice. I remarked on how hard it must be for the black citizens of Charleston to pass each day by the statue of a man who hated them, cast in a heroic pose.” White America hypocritically immortalizes an extremely racist politically figure, in a city where approximately 30% of the population is African-American (about 5% more than Oakland).

Kincaid later describes her experience at Middleton Plantation when she writes, “It is all very beautiful, even slightly awesome; and then there is awfulness, for those gardens were made by slaves… As I walk toward a tent to have a dinner of black-eyed peas and rice, ribs and chicken and sweet potatoes, a dinner that I think of as cuisine of black people from the American south, where I would hear the Lester Lanin orchestra accompany a white man imitating Louis Armstrong.” Here, the hypocrisy can been seen throught the fact that Kincaid and other guests are eating traditionally black food on a plantation, where slaves were held and forced to build the very venue where Kincaid ate. Furthermore, the entertainment for the evening was provided by a white man, imitating the voice of one of the most iconic black singers in history.


Jamaica Kincaid – Race, Politics, and Gardens

In Jamaica Kincaid’s article, “Sowers and Reapers”, Jamaica explains why she introduced race and politics into gardens and attempted to expose the hypocrisy of how white Americans have treated African Americans. Kincaid calls on her experiences at Middleton Place, a Plantation well known for its garden and dark past. While there, Kincaid was treated to “black-eyed peas and rice, ribs and chicken and sweet potatoes”, which she believes is “cuisine of black people”. She also heard a “white man imitating the  voice of Louis Armstrong”. It is through Jamaica’s experiences with gardens that she points of the hypocrisy of those she met at the plantation. Jamaica speaks of a Holocaust garden which she once saw. While it was beautiful, it obviously had an extremely dark past filled with death and violence. The white American’s garden, or America, has gone from an hideous place to a beautiful one. They believe that because things are nicer, it’s ok for them to appropriate culture in one of the most insulting places they could. A plantation, where African American people were enslaved and forced to work. As Jamaica says, “the garden is not a place for rest and repose” and so is America. We cannot hide from our past, we must accept it and move on.

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/race/