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Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Twists and Unsuspecting Turns

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

Miss Ever Boys. I watched this film when I was a teenager and didn’t quite grasp the complete understanding of its implications on a people or for research. According to Agustín del Cañizo Fernández-Roldán (2004) “Miss Evers Boys (1997) is a movie based on a real fact happened in the State of Alabama (United States), where it was carried out a research work that begun in 1932 and was prolonged up to 1972. It consisted on watching the evolution of syphilis in black male patients, who were not given any anti-syphilitic treatment at any moment. Once the fact was public, a great polemic on the ethics of the research with human fellows was originated and publications dealt with this case. The movie, faithful as for the bottom of the problem, it’s made as a novel about a research team’s nurse and four black participants patients.”

The Tuskegee syphilis study has had significant repercussions for informed consent and human subject testing. Recently, these very issues came up again, this time with the Havasupai Indians. The Havasupai Native Americans have called the Grand Canyon home for many centuries. And for many years, the Havasupai have also called diabetes an unwanted friend. To many researchers at Arizona State, there was an opportunity to study the origins, effects, and cultural impact of Type 2 diabetes on a people. And to the Havasupai, who according to New York Times Amy Harmon “view their blood as sacred,” such a test was conducted out of a need to understand diabetes and to find a cure not to store their blood in biobanks to conduct additional studies. And that is the heart of the case; whether a geneticist received informed consent to conduct these additional tests. According to geneticist Stephen O’Brien who oversees the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Institutes of Health, “we have to communicate a hell of a lot better to the public what is going on when we put their specimens in our biobanks.”

Arizona State has reached a settlement with the Havasupai, but money is not the motivator here. There is a clash between cultures and communication. There is a delicate balance that has to be reached between research and culture; for help may be shunned if a people are skeptical about those who are conducting research and what their motivations may be.

To read more about the case, click here. Also, click here to watch the New York Times video on the Tribe.

“Giving a Voice to the Silent”

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 6:58 am

I took some time off to go home; the usual catching up with some much needed sleep. My hometown is literally in the middle of nowhere, but to detox from technology and the stresses of life, I escape to home. While I was there, I picked up the local newspaper (well the newspaper from the neighboring town) and see a rather interesting article about child abuse, and I recognized one of the speakers…

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and to “giv[e] a voice to the silent,” the Benton County (Mississippi) Department of Human Services held a Child Abuse Awareness Program, in which they invited community leaders to discuss different aspects of child abuse. To my surprise, my mother was one of the speakers (well, maybe not so much to my surprise).

She’s my mom–that’s how I’ve always seen her. But, for once I saw her for the leader she is. Benton County is one of the smallest counties in the state, a county with one of the highest poverty rates in the state, a county with one of the highest high school drop out rates in the state, but a county that has potential, pride, and successes. These success stories may not be the typical rags-to-riches stories, but these successes can be found in the lives saved, the lives touched on a daily basis. My mother saves and touches lives daily. She is a mental health therapist. Growing up, I would moan and groan to my friends because my mother, I felt, always analyzed me–I didn’t like that. But I’ve soon learned that is simply who she is. While reading the article, I realized how I have been discounting my mother’s service to the community.

Well that stops here…

Child abuse is something we all feel is horrific, horrible, and preventable. Even in the smallest corners of the world, child abuse exists. So for leaders like my mother, their mission becomes identifying it, providing help for the abuser and the abused, while encouraging healing, hope, and forgiveness for all involved.

From Rags to Richest and Back Again

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 6:31 am

“Money, money, money money, money; some people got to have it; some people really need it; listen to me y’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it…” Lines to the O’Jays For the Love of Money. Last year, Sports Illustrated reported that “Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players’ associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that: by the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce. Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.”

From my childhood idol University of Memphis basketball player and former NBA player David Vaughn to Antoine Walker now to Derrick Coleman, athletes are richer than ever and quickly losing those riches on either bad investments or poor financial management or blowing it on living what Vaughn’s former agent calls a “seductive life.”

The lure of “the life,” riches beyond the wildest imagination, riches that are supposed to last a lifetime and then some, and yet, many former athletes are faced with what happens next when that life is no more. For many athletes, it becomes a rags to richest type of life, yet the transition from rags to richest is not as simple as perhaps they had once imagined. Dr. Boyce Watkins recalls a conversation he had with Mike Carr, head of NBA Player Development, in which he “explained to Carr that there is a need to ensure that NBA players are getting proper training in financial literacy to manage such vast sums of wealth. Without disrespecting Carr or anyone else with the NBA, we can argue that the experiences of both Coleman and Walker imply that something more adequate might be necessary.”

“…And Did You Learn Anything?…”

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2010 at 8:11 am

Tiger Woods. Perhaps the most googled name since Thanksgiving. And now, on the heels of a good showing in the first round of the Masters, Tiger Woods is rebuilding his brand. I’m no Woods apologist, but he is flawed, he’s a mere mortal just like me–mistake and poor decision prone. In his “return” to the endorsements, Nike recently released a solemn looking, a vulnerable Woods gazing into the camera with his late father speaking; inquiring of Woods

“Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?”

Did you learn anything? For Nike and Team Tiger this hits home to his recent struggles, yet the late Earl Woods comments can be applied to almost any situation. Did you learn anything? Did we learn anything? Virginia governor Bob McDonnell recognized April as Confederate History Month, but with one glaring omission from the proclamation: no word regarding the historical account of slavery in the state. According to Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz “…Virginia’s chief executive issued a Confederate History Month proclamation that was so horribly flawed, so politically tone-deaf, that he had to apologize within 24 hours.” What have learned? Would we rather glean over the difficult periods in our history and pretend it never happened? When we tell history, who’s history are we telling?

McDonnell subsequently apologized and amended the proclamation to include the following paragraph:

“WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history…”

In our struggles, when we retell our histories, what will they say? Who’s truth will it be? Whether our histories are personal, as Tiger’s, or whether historical accounts of events, we all must ask–did we learn anything?

Looking for a New Start or a Conversion?

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2010 at 9:01 am

For Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson the Mississippi Senate Bill (SB 2293) or the New Start School Program and Conversion Charter School Act of 2010 is segregation by another name. In an interview with the Jackson Free Press’ Adam Lynch, Johnson said that “Charter schools undermine public education. Anytime you use public resources to provide a quality education for a limited number of children, and the rest of the children are left behind, you undermine public education. At most, under the charter school program, only about 20 to 25 percent of the children are served. What happens to the other 75 percent? We’ve got to get more burglar bars on our houses, and we got to get more burglar alarms on our cars to deal with them, and the kids end up rerouted to the prison system.”

On March 31 the House and Senate have reached agreement and adopted a conference report, to which Governor Barbour intends to sign into law. The Act would allow “a new process for transforming some failing schools into ‘New Start Schools and Conversion Charter Schools’ that use district funding.” Representative Cecil Brown of Jackson said that the charter schools or conversion schools will not compete with other school districts for funding. Brown said that “These schools are not competing for the same money. In fact, one of the reasons we passed the bill we did was because there wouldn’t be any additional money needed. I know Derrick and some of the people have legitimate concerns about this, but I think we’ve addressed most of these concerns.”

Click here to read the remainder of Adam Lynch’s article.