Week 5- Global Health and Recent Events

Week 5- Global Health and Recent Events

The concerning events that took place over the past few weeks have brought the issue of racism to the forefront of our thoughts. At almost the exact time, my Anthropology class learned about race. In reality, race is completely false. It is solely a social construct fabricated by colonialism. Humans share around 99% of their DNA with chimps proving how little biological differences exist. In addition, the idea of racial groups based on skin color is foolish as skin tone is based on latitudinal position with people closer to the equator having darker skin to protect from UV radiation. While race might be false, racism is very real. Racism creates a hierarchy of races seeing certain groups as lesser. In the past, this has led to discrimination and slavery. However, even today, at a campus like the University of Michigan where students are seen as smart and well-educated, race continues to a controversial issue. Events like what took place in Angell hall remind us of the great distance we still have to travel to defeat racial discrimination.
Global health is another topic we have discussed in my Anthropology class. When, the videos we watched told us how many women in Sub-Saharan Africa sought traditional healers rather than doctors I was not surprised at all. In Anthro we have read of numerous peoples around the world who believe in some sort of nontraditional healing. The Yanomami of Brazil see shamans that use hekura spirits to cure illness. The Azande of South Sudan practice witchcraft and sorcery. While these methods might seem foolish to a group of future medical professionals it is important to view these practices in context. While these healers might not actually provide medical treatment, they absolutely restore emotional confidence to their patients and many times that can help the process of recovery. In addition, many of these peoples have other reasons for death outside of illness. When any person dies in the Azande, it is never due to chance. Witchcraft is the root of all misfortune. Witchcraft is a social function that promotes order and respect as it is only committed by the people you have angered. My Anthropology class has opened my eyes to seeing topics such as race as medicine in new ways.

7 thoughts on “Week 5- Global Health and Recent Events

  1. I am in Sociology and, just like your anthropology class, we were discussing race at the same time the racist posters went up. We have been learning about the inequalities each race faces because of historical events, such as slavery and the Jim Crow laws. Due to many racist views being the result of history, sociologists concluded that race was a social construct, similar to what you were taught in anthropology. Despite race being a social construct, it is clear that it is still a very big issue amongst many types of people. The Univeristy of Michigan is well known for having very diverse students and staff and discriminatory behaviors are still present on campus. It really shows how much farther we, as humans, have to go to be accepting of people of all races, religions, and genders.
    As for the topic of global health, we have also briefly discussed the differences between people in different societies. For example, people with different health care institutions and beliefs are going to have different outlooks on their health care. I was not surprised when the video we watched in class said that many women went to alternative methods, such as visiting a medicine man or using an herbal method, when it came to their health care. Although these alternative methods have not been proven to actually work, they can offer a lot of emotional support for the patient similar to how praying to a god can often ease a patient’s mind. These aspects of health care should be taken into consideration to any traveling health care practitioner.

  2. I agree completely with the idea that racism is still an extremely pressing issue in our current society which continues to plague and disenfranchise individuals daily. With the recent events of racism here at the University of Michigan, it is once again exhibited that humans will marginalize one another. Yet, we as a university should not let these events define us. The actions of a few misguided students are not how we as a university should be defined. As a result of these racist posters we as a community must become more inclusive and believe that someone, no one no matter who they are or where they came from, deserves a fair chance and a community supports them.

  3. I hate how many people in the US are so caught up in what a person looks like and race. We pride ourselves in being the “melting pot” of the world, yet we are still discriminating and putting specific groups of people down? Coming to a huge school like Michigan, I have realized more and more how unique and completely different each person is from another. We should be celebrating these differences. We can all teach each other so much about different ways of life and share our experiences. When it gets down to it, we are all people just trying to work hard and do our best, no matter what we look like on the outside.

  4. Your perspective on these matters is extremely interesting. I like that you take a scientific approach to thinking about race. I feel that this is often forgotten and people see skin color as a defining feature of a person. I, like you, believe there is no difference other than varying levels of melanin. I wish that more people shared this same mindset.

    I find it extremely upsetting that Michigan is viewed as this wonderful university that welcomes all races and cultivates a successful learning environment, yet we face these issues from time to time. Even time to time is too much. I can only imagine how it must feel to the out of state students who hear these great things about Michigan, and then come here and face racism. Yes, freedom of speech is a right in the United States, but that is much different than hate speech, and I believe that Michigan should not tolerate any form of hate speech.

  5. Everyone who is at the University of Michigan has rightfully earned their spot. Everyone who is at the University of Michigan belongs here. No one has the right to say otherwise. Therefore, it is heartbreaking to see these comments plastered around campus.

    Many times when faced with the issue of racism, people put a bandaid over the problem, and simply put it as a hiccup in the road. However, this is not facing or fixing the problem. This is called avoidance. If students and staff do not use this opportunity to collaboratively come together to face racism head on, nothing will change.

    I believe that a way to face this problem is to have an open conversation, to have students and staff come together and talk about why addressing racism is important. To some, racism might feel like a big deal because they do not think that they are being directly attacked. That is, until the attack is directed at them. Sometimes these things are better learned from people who feel personally attacked. Sometimes these stories just need to be heard to be understood. Therefore, students and staff need to talk about how these hateful comments are affect them and what it is like being attacked by hatred and anger when these people are perfectly innocent and should never deserve this kind of treatment.

    1. I agree with Di, when she says that often we attempt to put a “bandaid” over the issue of racism. I am worried that as a student body this event will not be taken seriously enough, we will accept it, move on, but never really address the problem.
      I like the idea of having an open conversation, but how will the problem be fixed if the ones who are perpetuating the racism are not included in the conversation, or don’t understand that what they are doing is negatively affecting a large group of people on campus? At some point, we have to figure out a way to address these students, while still respecting the opinions and ideas of those being targeted.
      I was also intrigued by the idea that it is easy for some students to brush these events off because they are not the ones being targeted, and therefore don’t fully understand what the first hand affects of racism feel like. However, if we are part of the population who is not targeted, we can still listen, engage in conversation, and stand in solidarity to show our support for our peers.

  6. The events that took place are awful events. I know one of the things I looked forward to most when coming to the University of Michigan was the diversity, and the number of people that would be different from what I was. I love that about this University. Events like what happened at Angell hall really hurts this immense diversity that we have. We also learned how similar our genes were to every other human’s. No matter what race, or where they’re from. So having something like racism exist is just saddening. We’re the same in 99% of our DNA. Why do we feel the need to break ourselves down into races when there is really only one race? The human race.

    Also I really liked how you brought the perspective of the spiritual doctors into the conversation. Yeah they may not be doing something directly to heal women’s breast cancer, but they are doing something that benefits them. Most people from our society see what the spiritual doctors do as wrong, and as a waste of time for the women. But to the society they live in the spiritual doctors really do help, they lift the spirits of the women, and they believe they’re helping the women in their own way.

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