Artifacts and musings throughout HS 3250G

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Equality versus Equity

Equality versus Equity

I came across this photo on Facebook today (sourced from Google Images for this post).

As this is my final blog post, I thought it would be relevant to discuss the fact that before this course, I didn’t understand the difference between equality and equity. I thought that they were synonyms of a sort but that is completely incorrect. This picture sums up the difference perfectly: equality is sameness, or everyone having the same thing whereas equity is fairness or people getting what they actually need and is appropriate to their needs.

I think that this differential is incredibly important when understanding differences between groups and how to move forward with health promotion. For instance, many womens rights movements say that they promote equality for women, when what would actually be better is equity. Men and women are not the same and have different needs for health, same as different cultures have different health issues that plague them based on their cultural histories and genetics so to say that health equality or cultural equality is what we want would be incorrect. Because while everyone can have the same of something, it could be completely different from what they need and that doesn’t do anyone any good- not the people that are not being helped and not those who are wasting resources by trying to make everything the same instead of making things fair.

Video

“Accidental Racist”- White Privilege and Systemic Racism

Brad Paisley recently put out a song called “Accident Racist” with LL Cool J and as soon as I heard it, I thought that it would be a pertinent artifact for one of my concluding blog entries.

The song discusses the historial tensions between whites and blacks in the southern USA, and the racial tensions all over the nation. Towards the end of the song, he sings about how “I try to put myself in your shoes- it’s a good place to begin, but ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin.” I felt like this had a lot to do with cultural relativism as a major topic in our class. That is, you can try and understand another culture from their perspective as much as you want but you cannot actually take the time to be them and fully understand the historical and systemic and environmental factors that shape the individuals and the culture as a whole.

He also talks about making the choice to be proud of his souther heritage but that is still a personal choice of his to support his own culture that has such a disgraceful past. This supports the ideology of choice- he determines his relations with others through personal choices, but because of these personal choices, he affects his relationships with others (those who are white and don’t agree with what the south did, and African Americans).

LL Cool J raps about how the white doesn’t understand what it is truly like to live in modern America being discriminated at every turn by the system and when southern American’s choose to display southern pride, it affects them in that it reminds them of that negative history.

They discuss the context of these relations- that this generation didn’t start these racial issues and both sides say that they want to not judge and put it all behind them but even in the modern context, history shapes everything.

At the beginning of the song when Brad Paisley sings about the “man at the Starbucks counter who served me today” it makes me think about power dynamics and how this line expresses and ingrained “power over”- that is, white dominance. In saying that he, the white country star, only interacted with the black man in the context of the black man being subservient to him by being in a menial server job, he’s asserting that as a white person, he’s more than definitely in a better place in society, even though there are countless successful and wealthy African Americans in the USA. He chose to use that example of the black man in the menial job to express the power-ower dominance dynamic that white people still have in American society.

This dynamic has a huge impact on African American health. Due to the stress of systemic racism, African Americans have been shown to have lower birthweight babies, higher infant mortality. They also tend to die younger than whites and have higher rates of chronic diseases, even when comparing amongst the upper middle class.

Systemic racism is ingrained in the health care system which creates powerlessness amongst blacks. It has been shown in several studies of hypothetical patients with identical symptom presentation and patient history, the black patient will receive a lower standard of care, even if the doctor does not identify with any racial prejudices. It has become implicit.

I think fo white Americans to have better relations with other ethnicities within their nation, especially those who they have historically marginalized, they must acknowledge the power differential that exists. Many white Americans deny that they have “white privilege” or just fail to truly accept that they do and reflect on that fact. To have humility, reflection is key- in regards to one’s own culture as well as the culture one wants to relate with.

Health and the Environment

Today I heard of the Million Tree Challenge (http://www.milliontrees.ca/). It was advertised at the top of my calendar that has the recycling collection. I had never heard of this challenge before. At the same time, I noticed that Earth Hour is coming up soon. It made me think about how the environment is related to the health of the world’s population. I realized that it’s related in ways like as the temperature of the world rises, we will see an increase in insect-borne diseases as they proliferate north where it used to be too cold to for these insects to reside. So that’s things like Lyme Disease (where there isn’t adequate testing because it is so infrequently seen this far north) and malaria. Air pollution has obvious health effects such as respiratory difficulties and it is becoming a growing problem in developing nations like China and India where they have technology but it isn’t so advanced as to be “clean” technology. But even in Canada, we have too many “poor air quality” days in the summer and sometimes even the winter. When people can’t go outside because the air pollution is too bad, it could cause them not to exercise, which exacerbates the obesity problem. However, desertification of arable land is occuring, which means less space to grow crops and raise livestock (never mind less space due to urbanization). We saw the effects of drought this summer when the souther USA was hit hard by drought and farmers didn’t have enough hay to feed their cows and pigs. Meat and milk prices rose as a result and there were talks of a pork shortage. When the prices of food rise, people turn to cheaper, processed alternatives, which affects their health because poor diet leads to a myriad of health issues like cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer. As glaciers melt, water levels in the world will rise. This, combined with desertification (and the resultant forest fires), will lead to the creation of “environmental refugees”. As people try and cram into less and less space, the incidence of communicable diseases will rise. In addition, in order to feed this population with no room to naturally produce food, we will have to resort more and more to genetically modifying food, even cloning plants in labs as species die out. The long term effects of GMOs are unknown thus far.

However, after thinking about this, I came upon a BBC article: ” Fun and games ‘can save the planet'” (link included at the end of post) which discussed the potential for long term changes in individual environmental impact and behaviour through engaging in competitive and incentive-based games. They also mentioned in the article that this strategy could be applied to health promotion behaviour changes as well.  I definitely look forward to seeing the results of this new study in several months.

Sources:

Fun and games ‘can save the planet’. (2013, March 7). BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21655918

Poverty

I started preparing for this week’s class by watching the video link contained in the resource for this week. I am a huge fan of TED talks so I was happily surprised to discover that I would be watching a clip of one. I though that the video was amazing and inspiring. Firstly, I had no idea that they were doing social housing projects in Africa, so that was something that was nice to know was that they were taking a similar approach to improving living conditions for low-income families as we do here in North America and maybe even doing a better job of it that we are, what with Joe Fontana and his zero-percent tax increase strategy that means slashing assistance for social housing projects and funding to organizations to help the homeless here in London.  I loved that Jane, the woman from Nairobi who was mentioned in the talk was so positive about life even though she was HIV positive. It made me think of my CSL project where I’m working with Western Heads East. At out first meeting we watched a video that talked with some of the recipients of the yogurt that the mamas from the project make and I was so amazed to see how happy and upbeat they were, in spite of haing HIV and how much they wanted to help others. I like that projects like Western Heads East and microcredit projects use industry to help people to help themselves. It makes me think of that old saying: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life”. And I really do think that is what is essential to alleviating poverty is giving people the skills and education to be able to help themselves and their families and their communities.

Let’s Talk Day

Bell “Let’s Talk” promotional photo with Olympian Clara Hughes

Today is Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk day in support of mental health. I thought it was fantastic the huge use of rechnology for the benefit of health promotion in that for every tweet containing #BellLetsTalk and every text and long distance call made by Bell customers. I actually received advance warning of this day via text from Bell and the commercials have been everywhere. Bell is even donating for every share of their Let’s Talk promo pictures on Facebook and I do think that the campaign is working since it is everywhere, people are actually discussing mental health. And I think that’s fantastic considering 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life and that is too many people for it to be kept as silent as it generally is in the public sphere. Mental health also received a lot of attention in the campaign platforms of the slates of this year’s USC election, which were highly publicized on campus to reach as many students as possible, through social media again. I think it is great that Let’s Talk will support local mental health initiatives because charity begins at home and mental health is a global issue so if more people are informed about how to get help and their options and about mental health in general, we can begin to extend initiatives like this to a more global scale.

A Quick Thought

I saw today on my News 360 app an article commenting on how the UK allowing gay marriage now will lower health care costs and improve public health which made me think of this week’s current event article about how coming out is good for one’s health. I think it is a great thing how many European countries and American states are now passing laws to allow same-sex marriage and that the world population has generally become much more accepting towards homosexuals. Not just that but people in developed countries are now trying to use social media and internet petitions to fight for the rights of homosexuals in less developed nations, some of which put homosexuals to death. As such, this movement has an impact on global health promotion not just on the localized effects of passing laws in more progressive countries but as more people are able to come out and be comfortable with their identities and see that society stands behind them and supports their rights, more people will be able to try and promote change where people do not have the ability to love who they want to and express their true selves. Either way, the latest movements for equal marriage rights is a step in the right direction for health and it makes me very happy.

Western Culture

The discussion in class of the culture at Western made me think of how we stuck to describing only positive or neutral aspects of our reputation or culture– the silly things like the Uggs and Goose jackets and so on or the fact that we wear purple and have school spirit. Although I was disappointed that no one mentioned the new culture of caring that has developed at Western through popular online forums like Umentioned Western on Facebook. Which has a lot to do with health promotion because of the fact that Western students are turning to each other as strangers in the same community for social support with mental health issues. Which brings me to the fact that we didn’t discuss any of the negative parts of the Western culture…not really. I mean, it was mentioned about the “party school” reputation, which is somewhat true I find. Western does have a very strong drinking culture, no matter what the administration seems to try and do in terms of health promotion strategies to reduce binge drinking. And it made me think of how that drinking culture has a darker side that relates to sexual assault on campus. On Umentioned Western, a lot of rape survivors have been coming out with their stories lately and discussing the depression and fear that followed. Some spoke of social victimization after the fact, which is horrendous, but I am not entirely surprised because there is a subculture of very mean, catty people at Western within the friendly outer culture. We definitely have a prominent rape culture on campus, as I have been noticed, as I examine this fact for HS 4292 with Dr. Orchard. We’re not the only school but since we have such a strong party culture and the culture of “biddies and bros” and a thriving Greek scene (frats and sororities), which is unlike many other Canadian schools, it is much worse. And not enough is being done to counteract this culture. Sure, in terms of health promotion they offer counselling for rape survivors and all-women self-defence classes but I want to go to a school where that isn’t necessary because we’ve come up with the proper programs that teach people not to rape or to objectify/dehumanize women in the first place.