The Hand that Feeds

In this article, we can see that trauma and violence can result from the desperation of not having adequate resources and knowingly see the government take advantage of the situation for the purpose of profit. It is interesting to also see how there is no long term push for justice but rather short term fix in order to keep the people at peace. The community fails to realize the probability of this hunger problem returning to infect the lives of these people. Additionally, we see the dynamics of power play a huge roll in how the citizens accept aid. While the citizens wish that changes were to occur in long term, the control of food for these people is of a greater problem especially when they seek to obtain it.

We can see such situations in the welfare system here in the United States how poverty results in the people’s need for government assistance.  Much of this poverty is due to structural violence, many families have no upward mobility and are always counting on the power to provide them food because the community is not able to provide the opportunities to move away from the strong hold of the power. The article states that, “to accept without giving in return or without giving more back, is to become client and servant, to become small to fall lower.” Such situation is seen in the article however can easily be seen in the United States. The lower you are in society the more control this power has over you, whether you need food or housing, and of course, it will be of poor quality. Thus said, this system does not provide people work, or resources to get out of the problems, thus, once someone is hungry they seek this support without the notions of considering a future. Thus these programs such consider the bigger picture realize that in order to provide one must teach or enhance the living situation not for a brief period but long term.  


Euthanasia? What is Right?

Paul Farmer, brings up very interesting points in this analysis of what human rights are in the medical field and if all people have the actual right to receive the same treatment as others, specifically focusing on the socioeconomic positioning of people. I also find it interesting that Paul Farmer specifically focuses on how when we are protecting human rights, we are protecting those who are most likely to have them violated, thus showing that the fight is for the constant need for equality. Such a continued fight indicates, at least to me, that as much as we can have a document professing, “all men are created equal,” we as social beings are not on the same page as documents.  Thomas Hobbes’s ideas of man, in terms of this greed driven human are in sense aspects of why ethnical dilemmas in areas such as medicine are so profound; mankind seeks the greed the glory and along the way dehumanizes groups in order to achieve those goals.

Access to human health care is a right, who is considered to have that right? Is one of the questions Paul Farmer has throughout this passage. To move away from human health care and more into the individual, can humans have control over their own bodies? One of the major bioethical problems causing up a storm in the world are the push for euthanasia for hospital patients in their quest to find peace within in their illness.  Euthanasia is the notion of ending life in order to relieve pain and suffering. Much of the controversy with this debate comes from physicians and scholars, some who state that Euthanasia allows a patient to be in control of ones life, while some state that such a freedom will distort the image of a physician as a healer. We can see trauma in both sides, while the patient is enduring their last days in death the family watches and endures the pain of watching the loved one slowly die. Meanwhile it is also traumatic to go about in saying goodbye and the factor of who control such a thing when the person is a vegetable? Ethics allows us to see both perspectives, and disallows us to make full judgment to the medical situation especially if it involves deaths. In such a case, decisions for Euthanasia, will eventually hurt one person whether it is the family because of the death of the patient, or the patient and their constant suffering.

Chicago Murders, a silenced War Zone

The political and economic eye can create a close mindedness on the living situations of populations of people who are on a common scale ignored because of their poverty. In this article, one of the key things to observe is vulnerability within populations, centering on 1995 Chicago heat wave.  The war on heat that Chicago experienced lead to the realization of problems and injustices left unnoticed until the moment the death toll skyrocketed. The heat wave was the way in which government officials came to notice the poor of Chicago, or at least considered.  This death toll opened up questions of social organization in low-income minority neighborhoods and reasons in some of their survivals and deaths. One of the most interesting aspects of the article was in answering the question on why some groups die and others did not through the analysis of the lifestyle of the people. The article states that many officials came to state that the best way to protect the poor is to force them to protect. While the government claimed the elderly specifically did not want help from the government, they failed to notice the social imperatives of living in the “hood.”  Government officials failed to see the insecurity that many of these people have in these communities. People feared the crime more than the heat, thus many elderly locked their doors and windows during the heat wave, causing them to die in their own personalized oven.  The same government programs that have provided them with minimal services if not any services isolate the “socially isolated.” Thus, while the government creates these notions of justification for the poverty, they fail to look at the social vulnerability that invades these populations from seeking the help of government agencies.

Chicago’s struggle in 1995 is not the only example of Chicago enduring struggle, trauma and violence.  Gang war, drug violence and poverty, specifically, among youth makes Chicago king of homicides in the United States.  Since 2008, more than 530 youth have been killed in Chicago with 80 percent of the homicides occurring in twenty-two of the minority community areas of the South and West sides. In 2008, 509 died in Chicago due to homicide while in Iraq 314 died.  Such statistics have made Chicago known as three times as deadly as NYC and twice as violent as Los Angeles. This shows that one does not need to go that far to see the war zones of communities that are tainted from the poverty and economic injustices of their situations. Possible causes for violence in the community can be attributed to poverty, the continued rivalry between enforcement, the lack of funding in public works, from schools to community centers.  Modern impoverishment and struggle is causing people to move into the drug business, in order to get by.  However, the true cause of such problem is in the lack of opportunity.  If government officials were to take notice of the struggle of these communities of people, we would be acknowledging social situations that could eradicate or at least drop levels of crime and homicide.


Below I have provided a Kanye West and Jay Z song that strictly depicts the struggle of living in Chicago as well as the current homicide count map.

Genocide at Large

The article presents the power of how struggles in countries that are not completely in the public eye can be depicted through narratives in forms of documentaries and even fictional movies. The article places much of its emphasis on the success of Hotel Rwanda in the ways in which the gripping tale allowed for people to become aware of the situation in the Congo. These forms of narratives are a self-expression to people who may not feel there is an outlet. Additionally, by providing images to human anguish, those who are not within that situation are more capable of empathizing with those in this country and maybe become inspired in providing the aid.  This power to provide narratives is a step towards social change, and something, which will allow the Congo community to be empowered and allow for the world to know and understand their struggle.

In applying my own personal experience to the article, my knowledge of Rwanda and the violence between the Hutu and Tutsi was based on the movie Hotel Rwanda. Before watching the film I had no idea there was such Genocide going on throughout the world. In America we are so accustomed to national news and to what media coverage is, “sexy,” that we forget there are conflicts throughout the world, or we do not get the knowledge of the world around us. The moment you read this passage, someone is fleeing from their home because of racial injustice, radical governments and terrorist. Current conflict areas are Sudan, Libya, Burma and Congo. While we mind our business in the states worry about Adele’s mighty 6 GRAMMY’s (mighty amazing), people are dying for the color of their skin. These people are not being provided food nor medicine, all for the purpose of eradicating the Nuba culture known as “ethnic cleansing.” Much of the Genocide that occurs throughout the world is driven by the notion of ethnocentricity of race, and which such notions are being the force of violence and trauma on people, the first world countries are taking no action, and its citizen are not obtaining the knowledge unless they seek to find it. Thus, we are blinded by our inabilities to seek knowledge from not just our own world, and thus like the article this week, narratives for a world without the important events being addressed are necessary in order to open people’s eyes.

Fix Communities Conquer Diabetes

The New York Times article on diabetes portrayed the illness through various lenses. We see the economic, social and physical effect on those inflicted with the disease. One of the aspects that I found most interesting was the analysis on the future to come.  “As more women contract diabetes in their reproductive years, Dr. Lorber said, more babies will be born with birth defects. Those needy babies will be raised by parents increasingly crippled by their diabetes.” This highlights one of the key factors that the American health care system fails to note and attack at early stages. Preventative medicine is the key to stop these problems from occurring. This disease allows people to live yet with debilitating circumstances, which can be prevented. We try to finance curing our problems that it is more cost efficient to save our money.

As diabetes affects adults, children are becoming the additional target for the life altering disease. In such situations, whom do you blame? Research suggests that genetics has a major cause for diabetes in children while other cases correlate it to the lifestyle and access to fresh foods. Additionally, the article suggests minority populations are at the forefront of being prone to the disease. While genetics play a role in all people, I strongly believe that the major reason for the presence of minority populations falls under the lifestyle and poverty of these families. While the literature strongly supports this notion, everyday experience supports it.  During a day working in South Central, I decided to look for a typical grocery store to pick up (to what I hoped) cheaper produce than the local Trader Joe’s in Westwood. Driving throughout the impoverished communities that were populated with apartment homes, not one grocery store came up. I proceeded to GPS a grocery store in the area to what resulted into no available locations.  Then considering that South Central is “the hood,” you are not only dealing with the poverty issue, you are working with a community that is tainted with gang violence, running around with a soccer ball might get a kid shot or dead.  Communities contribute to the diabetic problem and both outcomes are traumatizing. Either, you risk your chances at putting yourself in danger while getting physical activity needed or you fall into the continuous cycle of living with what is provided, which is not much considering that the family poor. In the grander scheme of things a disease such as diabetes cannot be combated without some community intervention, as long as there is none of that intervention, we will see more families with diabetes and more and more children inflicted with the disease.

Disability in Children: My experience in Cusco, Peru


Murphys’ experience is one that many endure yet cannot explain. The essence of education is to educate, and his voice genuinely opens ones eyes on the realities of the disabled world and educates the readers. Most importantly, he highlights the ongoing struggle of being “different,” in a place like America, if not the world. This article while being a research article depicting a specific health experience manages to touch on notions that are general facts of life. The work makes one realize the appreciation of our living breathing moving bodies and our at times indirect and unnoticed prejudices to people. This article hones in on the reasons for disabilities but it brings to life the first person perspective of what it is to be disabled and makes the readers realize they are guilty in taking forth on the actions that led to his “lowered self esteem…and the acquisition of a new total and undesirable identity.” He brings out the cold hard truth of America and their uneasiness to a world that is not to their perception “perfect.”

As an observer I have felt the experience that Murphy speaks about. I witnessed those I care, be treated with fear because of their disabilities. This summer I embarked on what you would call a blind-sided three-month research expedition to Cusco, Peru. With one suitcase and no actual thought into my research interests, I went on a search to find what I would do. Arriving to Cusco, I wanted to work with children and hospitals, a setting which was of my familiarity in the states. Curiosity led me to Clinca San Juan de Dios, a hospital specifically catering to children with cerebral palsy. While in the states, I was accustomed to children’s hospitals, accustomed to parents filling the lobbies on each of the floors, isolation rooms, and the whole tedious process of “gowning up.”  Clinica San Juan de Dios was different, it was out of the norm to see parents at the hospital, sanitation was minimal, and many of the older children (approximately 10 year olds) were abandoned.  During my time at SJD, to every miracle there were twice as many helpless and heart wrenching moments. This was my first time working with children with disabilities and in the beginning I had this notion of being afraid to hurt them. My first week, I was shocked at how the children were treated, which eventually I realized that these kids were treated like a normal child, just in a wheelchair. No special treatments and timeouts if they misbehaved. Eventually I proceeded to do so, inventing “wheel chair soccer,” and constantly being tackled by the little boys who had some abilities to walk. Additionally, this hospital was the “host” hospital for any tourist seeking to provide aid to “poor Peruvian kids” (a phrase which I heard from a particular person visiting). I witnessed the exact feelings that Murphy explains. My kids, who by this time I had developed closed connections with (I bathed them fed them in the morning, took them to school) where visited by the American volunteers. These children were looked on as if they were part of the circus. Pictures zoomed into their faces, squeamish teen volunteers not letting the kids touch their hand, and American girls running away from John, who was the most rambunctious and sweetest six year old year old with autism you could meet.  We could say that trauma comes from the actual surgery, which many children had to go through every six months, but one of the older girls, Yesenia would explicitly say how eventually when you no longer have the “cute” factor,  you receive the pity look from the foreigners, the official stamp that she will never have a “normal” future. Below I also provide a trailer to a movie which depicts the similar experience as Murphy, in the eyes of the disabled man himself.

A Bureaucracy Controlling our Health

Inside a bag labeled “Human rights,” we could easily find the words social justice, political activism, maybe the quote “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” and to the mix Martin Luther King. The term “health rights,” would be more of a later realization as a human right. I personally believe that society places so much emphasis on the political aspects of human rights, that violations of health rights go unnoticed because of its varied effect on entities of people. This article clearly mentions the disparities in the health care system specifically in the realms of access and treatment. You can easily compare health access and treatment as buying the same knit sweater from the local Target versus The GAP.  You receive quality health insurance if you have a job or earn enough money to buy private insurance. With the unemployment rate currently at an “8.5 percent,” (according to this site this percentage is a lie), there are families in the U.S who cannot afford the monopolized system of healthcare in America. One of the most brow raising statistics in this article falls under the fact that there is research stating that, “African Americans and Latinos receive poorer treatment in the health care system. They are less likely to receive diagnostic procedures, pain medications and pharmaceutical or surgical interventions than Whites.” One can easily infer that this poorer treatment is directly correlated with affordability. An undocumented Latino immigrant, earning minimum wage at a job where health benefits are scant, it is unlikely to afford the best doctor to help with back surgery, let alone pay the minimum $4000 for treatment.  Are we letting our minorities suffer because of their poverty? Health rights consist in providing all with access to treatment, however access to medical attention has turned to a luxury.

There have been films depicting struggle with insurance companies picking and choosing who to offer treatment to, and the barriers specific groups must overcome in order to go through with a transplant surgery or any other medical procedure. Specifically the Denzel Washington film John Q clearly depicts the struggle that comes from a monopoly controlling the life or death of your beloved one based on a simple transplant. While slightly dramatized, (Denzel taking the hospital hostage and shooting a guy) Time Magazine calls it “HMO Hell.”John Q For families this is traumatic. A bureaucracy causes many to lose their family members. It is a system where if you cannot pay, then they let you die, which leads many families to fall into a notion of resentment because of their inabilities to pay for the possible survival of their family member.

Biased Science as the Oppressor in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

The social desire for the existence of a superior group consisting of the healthy, productive, and admired; is a human pursuit. In American interracial dynamics, there is some awareness of the social injustices that prevail among minority groups, in this case, African Americans. With the incorporation of science, specifically the theories of Social Darwinism, and the combination of superiority endeavors, the categorization of “primitive peoples,” for African Americans highlights the social organization the made study acceptable during the 1930’s. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study explicitly presents the injustices that a biased interpretation of science can bring onto communities, but additionally the scapegoating and medical oppression evident in the explanations of medical phenomenon’s and diseases then and unfortunately now.  “[African Americans], it was argued, could not be assimilated into a complex, white civilization…..the Negro race in America was in the throes of a degenerative evolutionary process.”  In a situation such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, white medical professionals whose proclaimed “education,” and “common knowledge” heightened them at the level of superiority to their “subjects” were the core of the medical injustices endured by the African American males. “Cranial structures wide nasal apertures, receding chins, projecting jaws all typed the Negro as the lowest species in Darwinian hierarchy.” The combination of “professionals,” using “scientific theory,” and racist racial dynamics, allowed for science to be the oppressor, and research to provide insight not on medical findings but on interracial dynamics in the United States medical system.

This situation is a clear explanation of the side effects of science. Because science is connoted to facts, it is easier to oppress and control masses. If one is not “formally educated,” one cannot provide explanations of science.  This oppression is the source of trauma. The deceit of African American men because of their “primal,” and “illiterate,” is oppression of knowledge spiraling into a laundry list of traumatic events.  The exploitation of their disease for the purpose of a doctor obtaining medical merit and publications in a journal is their trauma. The violence enacted was not with weapons or jabs but rather with their dehumanization of a man, “they were robbed of their procreative powers.” By deceit and oppression from a “superior,” the African American man, was violently removed from even having their own jurisdiction on their body and reproductive parts, highlighting that trauma and violence exist only when there is a victim.

Frania Mendoza