Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
The APHA This is Public Health Campaign has now translated its stickers into various languages. You can get the English stickers for free, or purchase stickers in other languages here: This is Public Health
Here was my original post for the This is Public Health Campaign.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
There are lots of reasons people don't want to get tested, don't want to know the answer. I'm sure the fear of losing the ones they love is a big part of it for many people. If you know someone who needs to get tested but is afraid, make sure they know you'll always love them.
Information about where to get free testing in New Orleans: NO/AIDS Task Force
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I've been thinking a lot lately about the points where public health and feminism collide. I admit, I spend a little too much time each day catching up on the race and gender blogs on my list. The more posts I read addressing the battle some women fight to break free of being a Baby Making Machine, the more I realize certain public health interventions, ones that even I support, go against many long-held feminist objectives.
Take, for example, breastfeeding. In one of my classes, a group presentation presented an intervention to encourage breastfeeding. They labeled their fictitious program "You Were Born to Breastfeed." The title was supposed to empower those women who might not have confidence that their bodies could produce enough milk to feed their child exclusively. It's meant to empower women. But semantically, it empowers the belief that women are Baby Making Machines. You were born to breastfeed, just like you were born to bear children.
I liked their intervention, and I don't take offense to the title. But I see how some women would. It bothers some women profoundly the idea that society thinks they were born to bear children when it is not in their plans. Women also don't like being made to feel guilty when they can't or don't want to breastfeed. It's hard to breastfeed. Especially when you work. Some women just aren't into it. Some women just can't. Feminism tells us it should be a choice. And I have a hard time thinking women should be made to feel guilty about the choices they make about their bodies.
The problem is, public health tells us it's not a choice between two equal options. Breast isn't just Best. Formula feeding is in no way equal to breastfeeding. It's much worse. There, I said it. I made the judgment call. It's that if you don't breast feed, you put your baby at risk. Risk for asthma, for obesity, for a lower IQ, for allergies. It's not about making some women feel guilty, it's about getting as many women as possible to do the very best for their babies. Inevitably, some women are going to feel guilty about this.
I think about this problem in the context of Preconception Health as well. The premise of preconception programs is that 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, therefore all sexually active women should be considered of reproductive age, in a preconception phase and are targets of the A Healthy Baby Begins With You campaign. The intervention assumes all women could potentially become pregnant, even those that declare they don't want children.
Well, a lot of women who don't want to be pregnant end up pregnant. So it doesn't matter to the program whether it was a choice or not. It happens, it's the truth, so let's deal with it as it is. But I can see how feminism would have a real issue with this line of thinking. The campaign literally views all women as potential Baby Making Machines.
I still think this campaign is a good one. It looks at the problem of infant mortality from a very different angle. A part of that angle is getting women to be proactive about their reproductive plans. If you say you don't want children, make a plan for yourself to achieve that goal. Don't let pregnancy just happen to you. And feminism is working for that same goal. In preventing unwanted pregnancies, the campaign and the ideology walk hand-in-hand.
Just a few weeks ago I was telling a story about my husband to a girl I had just met. In the middle of the story she stopped me and asked "Are you a feminist or something?" Her tone reminded me that not everyone, not even all women who benefit from feminism, are feminists. I consider myself one. I even consider my husband a feminist! But I am also working to be a public health professional. At some point, the truth about our bodies becomes more important than ideals. Women have the potential for pregnancy. Men do not. This makes us different. If we don't want to be bound to that fact, we have to take steps to make it so. Not being pregnant doesn't just happen either.
Obviously feminism and public health both diverge and intertwine in their agendas. In fact, I think they intertwine closely more often than not. Most people in the health field agree that raising women's status in this world would improve the health of everyone. But I find interesting those few points where health and idealism might not flow together so smoothly.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Soucouyant - Trinidad and Tobago
The Soucouyant is an old woman with terrible skin, who lives alone. At night she takes off her skin, hangs it up and becomes a flying ball of flames. She flies around sucking the blood out of people- especially children and those with dirty thoughts in their mind. She can be fought off with salt and an especially good way to kill her would be to pour salt or hot peppers into her skin as it is hanging up. Leave a plate of rice outside your window for protection - she will compulsively count out the grains. Counting compulsions seem to be a re-occurring theme among Caribbean spirits. You can also crush her by the turn of a key, just as she is slipping through the lock. In Jamaica she is called the Ol' Hinge.
Ciguapas - The Dominican Republic
These beautiful but dangerous creatures live high in the mountains of the DR and come out at night. They have brown or blue skin, long hair and backwards-facing legs. So, they may be beautiful to only a few very confused men. They are difficult to track because their feet show them coming from where they are going. But they can be caught under a full moon, using a cinqueño dog. Like the Jablesse, they lure men into sexual situations, often deep into the forest, only to kill or abandon them afterwards. She could be an old Taino legend, or brought to the island by African slaves.
Jumbies - Trinidad and Tobago, Guayana
Jumbie seems to be a generic name for many different types of spirits, most of them evil. Most of these spirits have their roots in Africa and their stories were brought to the Caribbean by Africans brought there as slaves. This existing belief in magic and spirits is called Obeah in most of the English-speaking Caribbean. Most Jumbies share a compulsive and miserly quality. To divert their attentions from your home you can try these tricks:
leaving a pair of shoes outside your door; jumbies don't have feet and would spend the entire night trying on the shoes to get them to fit before moving onto you.
leaving a heap of sand or salt or rice outside your door; jumbies are compelled to count every grain before the sun rises.
when coming home late at night, walk backwards so that the jumbie would be unable to follow you inside.
if one is being chased by a jumbie, cross a river, as they cannot follow over water
leave a rope with many knots by your door step. Jumbies love to try to untie knots, so they will forget about you while trying to untie the knots.
Two interesting Jumbies are the Massacooramaan, who lives in rivers and capsizes small boats to eat those inside, and the Bush Dai Dai, yet another beautiful woman who goes into the mining camps of Guyana to seduce miners and later eat them. She then turns herself into an animal and slips away into the forest.
Jablesse - Eastern Caribbean, (Trinidad, St. Vincent, Montserrat)
Also called La Diablesse, she appears as a beautiful woman, sometimes dressed in antiquated but fine clothing. But underneath her skirts and petticoats she has one normal foot and one cow's hoof. Being beautiful, she lures men with the promise of sexual pleasure, and instead pulls them into great danger. She may steal their spirits or scratch their eyes out or simply lure them into sugarcane fields until they become so lost they go crazy. Some stories say she is afraid of smoke; simply lighting a cigarette may be enough to scare her off. If she enters a dance, all the women have an immeadiate dislike of the mysterious woman. They seem to know she is after their men. If you listen close enough you may be able to hear her hoof thumping as she dances.
El Chupacabra - Puerto Rico, Mexico and the U.S.
The goatsucker is a more recent phenomenon, probably not based in colonial history as the previous spirit-monsters have been. The legend began in the 1990's in Puerto Rico when livestock and pets began dying, apparently drained of their blood through punctures in the neck. Since then the story and reports of sightings have spread throughout the Americas. Some say the chupacabra is reptilian, and when it screeches the chupacabra's eyes glow an unusual red which gives the witnesses nausea. Other's say the creature is more dog-like.
Zombies - Haiti
No, not the flesh-eating, virus-revived zombies of current movies. From Wikipedia: According to the tenets of Haitian Vodou, a dead person can be revived by a bokor, or sorcerer. Zombies remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own. "Zombi" is also another name of the Vodou snake lwa Damballah Wedo, of Niger-Congo origin; it is akin to the Kikongo word nzambi, which means "god". There also exists within the voudon tradition the zombi astral which is a part of the human soul that is captured by a bokor and used to enhance the bokor's power. The zombi astral is typically kept inside a bottle which the bokor can sell to clients for luck, healing or business success. It is understood that after a time God will take the soul back and so the zombi is a temporary spiritual entity.
This famous photograph by Zora Nealie Hurston was taken in 1937, while she was researching folklore in Haiti. People claimed this woman was Felicia Felix-Mentor, who had died and been buried in 1907. Scientists and Anthropologists have attempted to explain zombies away by claiming certain poisons can put living people in such a trance or that zombies may even be a cultural explanation for mental illnesses.
I hope you enjoyed this list. Please, if you have any stories to add or details to offer about these spirits and creatures, leave a comment!
The Wondrous Lexicon of Oscar Wao
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Brazilian Health Fair
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
from 10:30 to 3:00
In front of the Brazilian Market
at 2424 Williams Blvd.
Kenner, LA 70062
Medical Screenings Offered:
- Blood Pressure
Medical Information Provided in Portuguese
Portuguese/English Interpreters Available
Activities for Children
All are Welcome – Sejam Bem-vindos – Todos son Bienvenidos
Especialmente para a
no dia 15 de novembro, 2009
de 10:30 às 15:00
Em frente do Brazilian Market
2424 Williams Blvd.
Kenner, LA 70062
Serviços Médicos Oferecidos:
Informação Médica em Português
Intérpretes Português - Inglês
Actividades para Crianças!
All are Welcome – Sejam Bem-vindos – Todos son Bienvenidos
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Funny aside, Señor Chang's enraged introduction to himself brings up a very good point. Why would it strike American students as strange to have a Chinese Spanish teacher?
When I taught high school Spanish, I had a student tell me that people from the Dominican Republic can't really be Black because they speak Spanish. (?!?)
Americans have very boxed-in notions of race, ethnicity and nationality. We tend to imagine that all Latinos look like Salma Hayek (even though Salma Hayek is half-Lebanese). Anyone who falls outside that stereotypical look is often met with surprise and sometimes even disbelief.
So, back to Señor Chang.
He could be an American who happens to really like Spanish, like me. Or his family could actually be from Latin America. When people immigrate, they don't only immigrate to the U.S. Of course Asians immigrated to Latin America too. There are communities of Asian immigrants all over the Western Hemisphere. In Brazil and Peru there are large communities of Japanese. Chinese immigrated to Cuba generations ago, there is a Barrio Chino in Havana.
Latin America is just as diverse a place as the U.S. So why shouldn't Señor Chang teach Spanish instead of Martial Arts without blowing everyone's mind?