New Research Provides Insights into Impact of Childhood Discrimination Experiences


Childhood experiences of racial animosity, discrimination, and prejudice can have lasting impacts on the life of pupils, research suggests. Studies show that it can actually lead to depression, poor academic performance, and negative health outcomes. The notable section discusses why equality and justice is essential to the developmental science discipline and that it has the power to influence policy  and practice,  aimed at tackling inequality directly while simultaneously  mitigating the adverse experiences of traditionally discriminated against people.

This ties into our class lessons on institutional instruments that are put in place that effect  minority communities and their ability to succeed. This prejudice that minority students may face, feeds into the low expectations set for minority students and limits their ability to succeed. Mental health is something else that has in the past- been used to stigmatize and to detain minority populations- as we can see in Toni Morrison’s Home. However now mental disease is being used as a crippling, silent killer that is seemingly dismissed by the same system that used mental health as an excuse to unjustly detain.  We first saw mental health as an excuse to detain, and now we see it ignored and permitted and used to hold back minority populations.

Matt Wuerker’s “Flint Michigan Water Crisis”


The following cartoon was drawn by politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker following the Flint Michigan Water crisis this past year. The picture features two water fountains with one labeled “white” and the other labeled “colored” referencing to the segregation that plagued America until the formation of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The water coming from the “white” water fountain is clean and clear whereas the water coming from the “colored” water fountain is murky and filthy; thereby suggesting the differences in water are designated solely to the races that drink from them.
One of the major themes in class that we discussed was the perpetuated interchangeability between race and disease. In John Duffy’s The Sanitarians: A History of American Public Health, the author examines this idea through observation of the interactions between the medical world and people of color throughout history. He goes into detail on the experiences of immigrants who were forced to be “sterilized” with harsh and demeaning treatments upon entrance to America and how such actions perpetuated this association between people of color and disease.
The Flint Michigan Water Crisis that Matt Wuerker’s cartoon illustrates reminded me of how this idea of interchangeability between race and disease could still be perpetuated today. The Flint Water Crisis poisoned over 100,000 residents in the Flint Michigan community with 57% of these residents being black. Therefore the majority of patients coming in with illnesses as a result of the infected waters were patients of color. With the sudden influx of sick people of color, one might easily have assumed that the illnesses were associated with the race rather than with the community that the people lived in. This might explain why it took Flint Michigan the amount of time that it did to address the water poisoning and even acknowledge the infected water as an issue in the first place.

Henrietta Lacks: Immortal cells and Racial Conflicts

Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer, had an extremely influential role  in the field of medicine, from the polio vaccine to cancer research.  Her contribution, however, is embroiled in controversy because she was used but had given no consent.  What makes this story a little tricky however, was the fact that she had contributed her cells, later to found to be immortal, and then died.  The ethical questions about this story continue to this day especially when looking at ownership of your own cells before and after your death.

Henrietta Lacks met her untimely demise by a severe cases of cervical cancer.  When she was close to death the doctors overseeing her case took some of her cervical cancer cells, without her permission or her family’s permission or knowledge, to run typical tests.  However, during these tests and to all the doctors’ surprise, these cells were immortal, meaning that these cells could continuously split and reproduce, unlike normal cells that will eventually die off.  This discovery led to a billion-dollar medical industry and many medical advances.   This success story came to a jarring halt when  a journalist, Rebecca Skloot, made an effort to track down Lacks’s surviving family.  In her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the journalist revealed that not only did the family never see any of the profits of an industry based on their mother’s cells, but also that these individuals had been without adequate healthcare and living in poverty.

Though not performed on a living human, these cells represent a laboratory that is riddled with controversy.  These controversies, ranging from the lack of information and compensation that the family received to the fact that permission was never received, lead to a couple different ethical questions.  And many of these questions boil down a person’s ownership of their individual cells.  The doctors and scientists that worked on this case explained away their use of Lack’s cells by saying that they were part of a tumor that was going to be removed anyway.  That Lacks did not have any say, and by extension did not need to give consent, after the cells had been removed from her body.  This is in an effort to show that the importance of the cells and the advancements that were developed from these cells were completely justified to do what they did.

However, some of these arguments do not take into account that consent was never received for the use of these cells.  Even though they were being removed, consent should have been given for test not related to her cervical cancer analysis, even if they were going to be thrown out after these tests.  These cells still belonged to Lacks, and after her death, her family.  I found this reminiscent to when dead bodies were used for cadaver lab without consent in the previous unit. This lack of respect for the dead is an interesting theme, and I wonder if this behavior would have been acceptable if she had come from a better background.

Their other argument, saying that the discoveries were worth it, dehumanizes Henrietta Lacks, and tries to make lack of consent acceptable.  These articles also reminded me of the reoccurring theme that blacks were afraid of going to hospitals and being seen by white doctors.

In other cases, the human body was being violated and mistreated.  This case dictates a scenario where your cells were used without your consent and without your knowledge.  The ethical issues surrounding this demonstrate the strain that occurred between white doctors, and by extension white scientists, and their black patients, that were often seen as subjects in a study rather than patients.

Calculating/Contextualizing Bodies

The poem included at the end of this post is titled “Rebirth” and is authored by Sarah Tsigeyu Sharp. I found the work in “Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature” edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti. The collection of poems centers the voices of indigenous, non-binary, two-spirit folks in an attempt to fill a gap in currently available materials of trans, queer, and indigenous literature. I came across this work while researching non-binary identities of color over the summer. Based on her biography in the “About the Contributors” section of the book: “Sarah Tsigeyu Sharp is a two-spirit, undocumented Cherokee/Lakota mother of three who strives to regift her traditions to her children.” Sarah dedicates her time to preserving endangered foods and medicine plants of native origin for local tribes and trains individuals on her preservation work (Sovereign Erotics, 221).

“Rebirth” details the journey of an indigenous individual finding themself in a process of rebirth with the help of an ambiguous partner of indigenous descent. We know that the partner is indigenous because of the protagonist’s knowledge that a “day would come when indigenous lifts indigenous closer to the sun.” It is insinuated that the partner is godly in character based on their superhuman capabilities. The partner knows multiple languages and is able to teach the protagonist “Taíno, Carib, Guanahatabey, español y poco niño ingles.” The partner is also capable of affecting parts of the protagonist’s body with parts of their own, although it seems that the partner does not have a material body. The reader gets the sense that the partner’s body may encompass the world as we know it and beyond that.

The poem showcases continuous cycles of rebirth of a physical and spiritual nature. Furthermore, the poem sustains a “dialogue of rebirth” in its literal written or spoken form and in the image it draws of indigenous rebirth through a communal sense of nature and an oral tradition.

The connection I would like to discuss is the relation between the imagery of Sarah Tsigeyu Sharp’s “Rebirth” and a course theme of calculating/contextualizing the body and mind. In thinking through current and future characteristics of living laboratories, we were put in a position of thinking through how to best represent bodies in systematic ways. “Rebirth” also calls this process into question with its juxtaposition of numbers in relation to immeasurable, abstract concepts. How we can measure the body or a people with modern medicine, science, or knowledge?  

It is interesting how the Taino sun is centered near the end of this work. The Taíno are an indigenous tribe in the Caribbean almost completely wiped out by Columbus’s colonization. They are often a subject of study albeit in indirect, vague, and colonial ways. Although I have not read much research on the Tainos or Taíno topics, I have picked up that they are often studied through their medicinal practices and in very physical ways. After enrolling in this course I have realized that we continue to make a racialized and gendered laboratory of the Taíno people that posthumously, violently medicalizes them. Can creative works be a possible avenue to redesign how we uplift minoritized voices, much like Sarah Tsigeyu sharp does in her work for indigenous voices?

Note: A second connection I would have made is the similarity in indigenous themes between Sarah Tsigeyu Sharp’s “Rebirth” and Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands/La Frontera.” However, my post was already too long. Similar techniques to think about are: multiple/hybrid languages; connection of indigenous lives to the land and nature; intercise of being indigenous but also colonized.

Rebirth by Sarah Tsigeyu Sharp

Source: Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti (pp.198-199)

We etch home into the palms of our hands

lift them toward the moon, that they might be

magnified by her glory

Dangle feet over boulders in the river

Close eyes tight, pretend these are our homelands


Remember past tanglings of spit

and weavings of skin that brought us here,

Birthed us, brought honey to our trembling lips,

food and sweetness for the fight ahead.

Today is a good day to cry.


Your eyes like an amber cavern in a thunderstorm

and as bright as the day is long

I shudder under you as your tongue teaches my

body to speak

Taíno, Carib, Guanahatabey, español y poco niño ingles

You are a dialect unto yourself


I was the furthest East I’d ever been,

more than 2900 miles from home

you, redefining the word with you small hands


I could push sand into your mouth to stifle my terror

lest you speak,

break me into bits and I should tumble down your

throat the end of me

But you and the Taíno sun are inside me now,

for good


Then, 41000 feet in the sky, heading steadily away

from you

I cherish the flush/of my lust

You grated me my own heat, bottled tight inside

my frigid, North American heart,

a product of the colonization of my people


We were once as wild as you/

some of us still are

some of us just need a little help from our liberated kin

thus, I name you such:

Kin, Sibling in Struggle


I knew the day would come when indigenous lifts

indigenous closer to the sun,

I just never could have guessed it would be like this:

you, all eyes and hands and tongue

You are acts of gods exiled long ago

from this, our fertile earth


You and I

a dialogue

of rebirth

Racial Disparities Receding for Women with Breast Cancer

According to a recent finding from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, younger black and white women benefit equally from timely breast cancer treatment. However, the death rates of women over 50 are still very disproportionately black. The article notes “that 10% to 20% of all diagnosed breast cancers, occur more often in black women than white women. ” The reason is that Black women will get diagnosed more in the later stages of the cancer, as opposed to white women. This relates to class because we have discussed how race plays a part into treatment. It is far to speculate based on the the content of our class that perhaps certain predominately black neighborhoods have less treatment and prevention facilities and/or precautions to offer black women.

With this being said the article does show that the incidence rates are converging. Since 1975 white women have always beat black women in breast cancer diagnosis per year, but as of recently that statistic has shown that it is changing. Now about about 122 Black women for every 100,000 are diagnosed compared to white women and there being 124 diagnosis for every 100,000. This has everything to do with the our class discussions and content because it begs the question: is this a good statistic or a bad one?

On the one hand this could suggest a progress. Perhaps more black women are getting tested and are receiving more treatment. Perhaps black neighborhoods and facilities in those neighborhoods/ communities are improving to a similar caliber as those offered in Predominately White areas. The article also suggests that the black women themselves are finally “heeding to the call for screening tests”, and perhaps self awareness is a factor in this.

However on the flip side this could be a problematic and if anything startling statistic. It could be very much the system at play. Perhaps treatment options and resource distribution hasn’t changed at all for black women, but instead the system working against black people. Maybe pollution and environmental factors have increasingly worsened nationwide for black communities and that is what is causing the increase in rates. In understanding medical apartheid and the discussions surrounding the book in class, the article becomes more nuanced.

Half of Dermatologists Say They Weren’t Trained to Spot Cancer on Black Skin

This article very shortly, but effectively, discusses the intersection between race and medicine, particularly in medical schools and the training provided to prospective doctors/dermatologists. The article briefly mentions how half of physicians in a survey believed that there were “biological differences in pain perception between blacks and whites”, but also that they were “30 percent less likely to give pain medication to black patients than white patients”.

This statistic reflects the historical attitude we analyzed in Unit 1–an attitude that dehumanized black bodies in an effort to perpetuate subjugation and slavery; the parallels between the history we read in Medical Apartheid and the 21st century medical field are scarily similar in this respect. Just like Washington noted and explored the “scientific racism” prevalent in colonial times, demonstrating the ways white doctors experimented on black bodies and how they justified their actions with the idea that black bodies had a higher pain tolerance, this article points out that same mindset and from that we can see the continuity in scientific racism. Evidently, this attitude continues to manifest itself in the medical field.

This attitude is also built through medical schools and the ways in which they fail to effectively train dermatologists, who confessed that they “were not trained to spot signs of cancer on black skin” which leads to a higher mortality rate for black Americans who aren’t effectively treated in time. I know that in Unit 1 we discussed the way scientific racism manifested itself in the past and the ways it has engrained itself into the present; but, who’s to blame in this situation? Is it the individual or the institution? Who is responsible for creating and enforcing what’s taught in medical schools and what can be done about it?

Being Black is Bad for Your Health


Earlier in April, U.S. News printed an article about the racial disparities that can be found in healthcare.  This article was suitably titled “Being Black is bad for Your Health.” In the article, the authors compared two communities; one being an affluent white neighborhood and the other being a primarily poor black neighborhood. The comparison revealed that the community that was primarily affluent and white on average had a life expectancy rate around 10 years higher than that of the community that was primarily poor and black. The differences revealed between the communities did not stop at just the mortality rates, but were also exhibited through rates of obesity, asthma, and teen pregnancy. Some of the major points that were highlighted throughout the article were the differences in healthcare between people of color and their white counterparts. Specifically, the article talked about the comparison between the treatments that white people received from physicians and the treatments that people of color received from physicians. Alexander Green, an assistant professor at Harvard and director of the Disparities Solution Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, studied with other researchers the racial disparities in health and discovered an “unconscious bias” that existed in physician behavior towards their patients. Such behavior seemed to extend as far as physicians suggesting more aggressive medications for ailments such as chest pain to a white patient than they would to a patient who is black.

I came across this article as a part of reading assignment that was assigned to me and my classmates in my Freshman Seminar “Is Your Zip Code Your Destiny? Exploring the Social Determinants of Health.” What I found most interesting when reviewing this article was the parallel between the issues that exist in modern day medicine and the issues in historical living laboratories that we have discussed in our Race and Living Laboratories class. What caught my eye in particular, was the noted difference between the recommended treatments provided to black patients and the more aggressive recommended treatments provided to white patients  according to Alexander Green and his fellow researchers’ study. This reminded me of the discussion that we had in class about the historical perspective of physicians neglecting to provide blacks with necessary treatments throughout time and in particular when conducting human experimentation on black people throughout history. In an attempt to reason why physicians might not be inclined to recommend aggressive treatments to patients of color, I recalled what we had talked about in class about the acclaimed “scientifically proven” idea in history that blacks have a much higher tolerance to pain that their white counterparts. As we’ve learned in class, this idea was accepted in science as fact and in turn allowed for many scientists, including the notoriously known Dr. Marion Sims, to subject blacks to cruel scientific treatments and experiments. I found it supremely interesting that there might be a connection or perhaps even a paralleled way of thinking between this archaic notion of higher racial pain tolerance and the medical distribution of lesser aggressive treatments based on race.

Additionally, I thought about the discussion my classmates and I had in class about Ellis Island and how new immigrants would be turned away from America’s doorstep because they fell under the Class C bloc of access denial. The Class C block was designated for those who, although not sick now, were liable to needing healthcare resources in their future years from the American government. In class we discussed that the idea of rejection based on the probability that one will need support later in life stems from the American perception that there are not enough resources for us all with “us” being defined as American born citizens. Taking this view into context, I can picture how the “unconscious behavior” of the physicians in Alexander Green’s research could be under the influence of this notion when recommending the treatments.

When Minority Students Attend Elite Private Schools


Back in 2013, The Atlantic published an article that explored the placement of minority and lower-income students into elite private schools and the impact this has on the psychological and emotional development of the students.

I found this article while researching the discourse of reparations in present-day America. One of the arguments in support of reparations advocated for reparations in the form of school grants that would be given to black students in order to give them exceptional educational opportunities. While this article doesn’t discuss reparations, it does discuss the misconception around the “ticket to upward mobility” elite institutions supposedly grant.

Despite the educational opportunities, private schools simply don’t provide a healthy and psychologically sound environment for minority and lower-income students, who are met with an overwhelming sense of discomfort. This discomfort stems from an environment that stereotypes, degrades, and alienates minority students, who are often the only students of color in their classes. And while private schools, like The Dalton School, are making the effort to diversify their student bodies, more consideration needs to be placed on making the transition for these students an easier one.

In class, we’ve explored not only what counts as a living laboratory, but also the relationships and workings of each living lab. In this case, elite private schools serve as living laboratories that harbor an oppressive environment, impacting the health of the minority students who attend these institutions. The negative relationship between the students’ health and academic environment is one that reflects a history of degrading and belittling people of colors’ appearances and intelligence.

Study: Racial Bias May Start as Early as Preschool

This article discusses the effects of implicit racial biases on black and minority pre-schoolers. The study the article discusses tries to prove that implicit biases effects minorities at even a pre-school level. The study used more than 130 current and student preschool teachers and administrators. The participants were told that the purpose of the experiment was to see how teaches detect challenging behavior. When the test subjects were asked then to observe a class-room of children actors portraying students, the results confirmed the danger in implicit biases. Through eye-tracking technology the researchers were able to find that the teachers kept their eyes on black boys significantly more than any other category of students.

Similarly, in a separate exercise teachers and educators were given a vignette of a 4-year old with behavioral problems. Some of the students were given stereotypical white names, while others were given stereotypically black names. Teachers and educators were also given similar biological information of all the subjects. When they were later asked to rank the students’ behavior they found a strong accordance with race.

In concluding their research, they found that most black and minority students were held to lower standards as opposed to their white counterparts. Teachers and staffers were also noted to have lower standards for behavior for black and minority students.

The findings were requested to be released by the US department of Health and Human services. The way this article relates to our course is that it deals with the manipulation of the health of African Americans and other minorities on account of their race. However in this study, the type of health that is shown to be negatively impacted/ effected is mental health. As the article proves, minority students are disproportionately effected by low expectations that manifest into a self-fulfilling proficy that is able to sustain itself through teachers placing low expectations on black students, and in turn causing them to internalize them and have a low sense of self. The danger of this mental health issue is that children can very easily live up to expectations set up for them.

Sample Post: NYC Sprays the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans for ‘Zika Prevention’


-A summary of whatever it is you’re posting, which may or may not require you to reference other sources.

-In-depth analysis, including an explanation of how your post relates to the course topic (be specific).

Remember: we are co-creating an archive through this blog so please feel free to use all of the available e-tools here. Your posts do not have to be articles about current events. Perhaps you came across something on social media (i.e. Tumblr, FB, IG, or Twitter) that you’d like to share with us. Perhaps it’s something on YouTube, a film, image, or poem. Perhaps it is a scholarly piece after all, something you read in another class or a secondary source that you plan to use in your final paper. You have free rein! The point is to bridge theory and practice by peeking at the world through the critical lens of ‘living laboratories’ and noticing what becomes visible when we do that. Think back on a time when you first learned how to name something you sensed before knowing the word for it (i.e. racism). Learning that word, phrase, concept, or theory changed how you see things. This blog is just that: a collaborative exercise in shape shifting our mind-frame.