REMINDER: DO NOT APPROPRIATE SOMEONE’S CULTURE THIS HALLOWEEN

Halloween is approaching fast, and this means it is time to start thinking of a costume to wear (for your virtual zoom party or around the house of course). So, this post is a reminder to everyone that one should not appropriate someone’s culture as a costume! This is Cultural Appropriation. The definition of cultural appropriation is “the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity.” This could mean taking intellectual property, cultural expressions or artifacts, history and ways of knowledge, parts (symbols, artifacts, dress, practices) or any instance that is commonly associated with and/or perceived as belonging to another. A common result to cultural appropriation is commodification. Commodification is the process in which the dominant culture has the freedom and/or power to take objects or artifacts from other cultures. Through this process, the relationship between these objects or artifacts and their intrinsic value is lost.

Some examples of cultural appropriation:

  • black face
  • simply being “a different race for halloween”
  • gypsies
  • geishas

Some ways that you can address this issue:

  • Reflect on yourself – ask yourself, do you know what is cultural appropriation and have you done it before?
  • Talk to your friends and bring up the subject – what do they think of it?
  • Reflect on your costume this year – is your costume based on someone’s race, ethnicity, or culture? Does my costume use stereotypes to make a joke or to be sexy? Is it exploiting another culture?
  • Advocate!!!

A good resource that I found that touches on this subject is University of Denver’s “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” photo campaign that aims to raise awareness and create a respectful and inclusive community for the students. What do you think about cultural appropriation? I have researched this topic and have found that there is a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation.

MINORITY HEALTH AND COLORECTAL CANCER

In light of the death of Chadwick Boseman, a black man most famously known for his role in Black Panther and other Marvel movies (may he rest in power), we must realize the racial disparities that occur in colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third-most common cancer in all adults in the USA. Colorectal cancer affects men and women and impacts people of all nationalities and ethnic groups. However, they are not impacted equally.

African Americans

  • 15 to 20% more likely to die from the disease than patients of any other race
  • higher chance of being diagnosed at a later stage and with a higher morality rate
  • recommended to be screened at 45 instead of 50 because of genetic factors (“African Americans with colorectal cancer are more likely to cope with an aggressive subtype fueled by a mutation in the KRAS gene, which drives cancer growth )
  • affected by socioeconomic barriers (low income, difficult to find transportation, lack of health insurance, lack of medical literacy, and access to care)

Asian Americans

  • 52% of Asian American adults between 50-75 have not been screening for colorectal cancer
  • colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Asian Americans
  • risk of colorectal cancer increases greatly upon immigration to the United States
  • many Asian Americans are unfamiliar with colorectal cancer as disease rates in native countries are very low

Hispanics/Latinx

  • 47% of Hispanic adults between 50-75 have not been screening for colorectal cancer
  • also affected by socioeconomic barriers
  • cultural barriers (misconceptions about western medicine, language barrier in communicating with medical personnel)
  • talking about disease and death is culturally taboo

American Indians and Alaska Natives

  • fewer than half are current with colorectal cancer screening
  • colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and second deadliest cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • they live in rural and isolated communities so it is hard to find screening
  • higher burden of cancer risk factors
  • socioeconomic barriers (lack of funding for tribal health clinics, high rates of poverty, lack of health insurance, etc. )

SYMPTOMS OF COLON CANCER

  • changes in bowel habits and stomach pain (diarrhea/constipation)
  • unexplained or unintentional weight loss
  • unexplained fatigue
  • anemia
  • cramping pain in the lower stomach
  • rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • blood in the stool
  • cramps/abdominal pain

Symptoms of colon cancer mimic other GI disorders, so doctors are less likely to screen patients under 50 with these symptoms. If you have access to healthcare and you are experiencing any of these conditions, please see a doctor!

In honor of Chadwick Boseman, please consider donating to organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition that raises awareness for early colon cancer detection and effective treatment for colon cancer patients.

sources:

https://www.inovanewsroom.org/featured-posts/2020/02/colon-cancer-and-the-black-community/

WHO IS JACOB BLAKE?

Yesterday, August 23rd, a police officer shot Jacob Blake 7 times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. While his 3 children were in the car watching. Attorney Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer retained by Blake’s family, said Blake was attempting to de-escalate a fight between two other people when officers arrived at the scene, drew their weapons, and tased him. Currently, he is alive and in the ICU fighting for his life. However, he shouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place. His kids should not be traumatized from watching their own father being shot repeatedly in the back by the police. We must have an immediate and transparent investigation and the officers involved should be held accountable for their actions. We must demand justice. #JusticeForJacobBlake

Here are some resources to help demand justice for Jacob Blake:

  • Sign the petition calling for justice for Jacob Blake here.
  • Donate to the official gofundme for Jacob Blake’s family here
  • Donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund which is assisting protestors in Kenosha with bail funds here
  • Call/Email Kenosha state officials from this list created by @ankita_71 on twitter https://twitter.com/ankita_71/status/1297805867455307777

If you go to the next page, there will be footage of the whole ordeal. Please do not click if you are triggered by gunshots.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE USPS?

Currently, the USPS is facing a huge financial crisis. To save its services and continue delivering the mail throughout the country, the agency has asked Congress for $89 billion. The Democrats want to give the USPS money; however, the Trump administration and Republicans have blocked them in hopes to privatize the agency. Privatizing the postal service would result in an increase in shipping prices and hurt small businesses. Another reason for this block is a way for the Trump administration to increase the chance of Trump’s reelection. Among those who say they will vote by mail, 81% support Biden and 19% support Trump.

The USPS is an essential part of the United States’ infrastructure. It is the most popular government agency and employs 600,000 people. In addition, it is the most cost-efficient way to send packages and letters, with one letter costing only 55 cents. If the USPS is forced to close down, it doesn’t only mean 600,000 people are out of work. As former President Barack Obama said, “Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open. They can’t be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.” Also, the postal service is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country, employing more than 97,000, employing three times their share of the national workforce.

The USPS does not receive tax dollars for operating expenses. It solely relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. To help fund the USPS, I encourage you to buy stamps and send letters to people you love and can’t see because of the pandemic. Also, text “USPS” to 50409 and a letter will be generated to your local reps urging them to save the post office. Please help the USPS! It not only encourages the chances of a fair election, but also helps the majority of Americans that use the USPS for medications/prescriptions, taxes, Social Security, and other miscellaneous things.

MESSAGING REPRESENTATIVES

This is a letter I had received in response to a letter that I wrote to my representative. Due to privacy reasons, I will not be disclosing who it is, but I hope this encourages someone to reach out to their representative and demand a change in the system, whether it be defunding the police, reforming the police, and passing laws to making sure that police should be arrested for their acts against innocent/guilty persons. We have a voice, and it is up to us to use it.

Dear {retracted}

Thank you for contacting me regarding the need for police accountability and reform.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have exposed the institutional racism that exists in our society and criminal justice system.  Tragically, these stories follow what we have witnessed in other instances of police violence for many years, across the country and in {retracted}.  We are in the midst of the latest chapter in what is a long, American story of racial injustices that have taken far too many black lives.  The pain people are expressing with peaceful protests is real.  I see it, and I hear the calls for change.  It is clear that we must do a great deal more to address longstanding and systemic racial injustices in our country. 

An important first step is to change the culture of policing in America and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.  That is why I joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing the Justice in Policing Act to fix and improve police training and practices, hold law enforcement accountable and help address systemic racism and bias to help save lives.  This legislation prohibits federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.  The bill also bans the use of chokeholds, mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras, and establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.  Furthermore, this federal reform legislation incentivizes states to adopt laws mandating independent investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths, and when law enforcement violates an individual’s constitutional rights, police would no longer be given “qualified immunity” from being held responsible for their actions.  You can read more about all the reforms included within the Justice in Policing Act here: {retracted}

Of note, policies that govern law enforcement are also made at the state and local level.  If you wish to further express your views on these policies, I strongly encourage you to also reach out to your local and state officials.  You can determine who all your elected officials are online at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

I believe that America has been awoken with the pain of carrying the wounds of racism for too long.  But we have also awoken with hope.  I see it with the diversity, both racially and generationally, of those peacefully protesting against racial injustice.  Please know I am inspired to do my part to bring about the racial justice we need in our country so that one day we may truly have liberty and justice for all.

Once again, thank you for contacting my office.  It is important for me to hear from the people of {retracted} on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at {retracted} for information on how to contact my office.

Originally published June 19

RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

The coronavirus has impacted every one of us. COVID-19 does not discriminate between races as it affects everyone. However, it is affecting some races more than others. As of right now, the Navajo Nation has the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the USA, surpassing New York which had been thought of as the epicenter of the pandemic. The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. Its infection rate is 3.3% as the nation has a population of 173,667 people and has had 5,533 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 248 deaths. Its infection rate surpasses New York’s by roughly 1.0%.

American indigenous family aware of the dangers of the Covid19 pandemic stands 6 feet apart from one another

Coronavirus impacts minority groups differently than peoples in urban/major cities across America. These individuals are often of a lower income bracket and are frequently working in jobs that are deemed essential. Thus, they face a higher risk of infection than others. Also, Tyrone Whitehorse, a member of the Diné Nation from Lechee, Arizona, wrote that “it’s hard to follow public health guidelines when the reservation is facing “systemic disparities,” like limited access to healthcare, minimal running water, and a lack of protective supplies. Nearly 1/3 of families on the reservation don’t have access to running water or electricity, let alone a clinic or a hospital nearby. In addition, on the Navajo reservation, there are only 13 grocery stores to serve an area the size of West Virginia. Therefore, when people were rushing to grocery stores across the nation, it caused members of the Navajo reservation to hit the dirt roads and drive an hour or more to the nearest grocery store. However, when they got there, much of the supplies they needed were gone already. Also, the small number of grocery stores result in food scarcity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that “current data suggests a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.” Additionally, COVID-19 death rates for Black and Hispanic/Latino individuals “were substantially higher than that of white or Asian person” for cities across the country noted the CDC.

As you may know, when European settlers came to America, they brought diseases that left Native Americans ravaged and afraid of what can happen when there is no immunity in a population against foreign infections. With the rise of COVID-19, anxiety and fear threatened the people once again. Throughout the Navajo reservation, signs can be seen reading “Please stay away, we are trying to keep grandma safe” on homes. In Native American culture, stories and history are told orally, meaning that they typically don’t write out the stories, instead passing them down by speaking. The elders, who are knowledge keepers, culture bearers, storytellers, matriarchs, leaders, language teachers, are being disproportionally affected by the virus. When an elder dies, it is as if a library is burned down.

Please help the Navajo Nation by donating to any of the organizations listed below

To learn more, check out this action doc by Changing Womxn Collective: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IG9uNbKF_xxdNWXB667YxBuRbnnRUDOnf6PcPGGECeI/edit

Originally published June 9

HOW TO BE AN ALLY

Being an ally means that you are willing to act with and for others in pursuit of ending oppression and creating equality. You are…

  1. taking on the struggle as your own
  2. standing up, even when you feel scared
  3. transferring the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it
  4. acknowledging that while you too feel pain, the conversation is not about you

Allies are necessary, but it takes a lot of work to be an ally. By being an ally, you must be prepared to own your mistakes and acknowledge that you might make missteps along the way. Below, I have listed a few ways to be an ally.

  1. Check in on your black friends, family, partners, loved ones, and colleagues
  2. Be prepared to do the work
  3. Read up on antiracist works
  4. Donate to funds and support initiatives
  5. Do not center the narrative around yourself
  6. Keep supporting after the outrage
  7. Stop supporting organizations that promote hate

Originally published June 7