Lives Matter…

So I know that it’s been a really really really long time since I’ve posted anything on here.  it’s not because I’ve forgotten, it’s not because I don’t care but I’ve been crazy busy, with work, especially.  And I suppose to a certain extent, I haven’t really been inspired to write.

However, for the past few days I’ve had this tingling, this itch to express what I’ve been feeling as it relates to the killing of blacks in the United States of America.  Now I know that I’m not American, I do not live in America, I do not intend to move to America, but shit, I have family and friends living there and being threatened with the possibility of leaving for work one morning, or going to the store..or whatever and not returning home all because of……the colour of their skin.

So this has been happening for time in the US, police officers killing blacks, and I’m going to be honest here, I have been complacent, saying only to myself..’boy this is some real shit’.  Even after the advent of the camera phone technology and I see these things happening every other day, I was still like..’boy this is some real shit’.  Forgive me for this though, maybe it’s because I felt I was too far removed from the situation, I am where I am, it’s not affecting me.  But after that video of Alton Sterling, I dunno what it was but something stirred.  It stirred because when I looked at it I was like, what movie am I watching?  To me it was murder.  And when I looked at who was responsible for this murder, my mind raced back to all the times I was like ‘boy this is some real shit’.

I’m not going to ask why in 2016 this is allowed to happen.  Many of you have your reasons, chances are, most of which i fully support.  This is happening, it is getting much worse that I’m sure many of you ever anticipated.  How is the United States of America ‘united’ when a police officer mindlessly takes the life of someone of colour?  When you see disparities everyday in the way they ‘police’ white perpetrators?  When more than a few white folks can make light of the phrase ‘Black lives matter’ by the over arching ‘All lives matter’? When people can comfortably sit back and say, ‘it isn’t a race matter’? When you use a man’s past against him…so because he used to sell drugs at the side of the street 20 years ago, then killing him is justified? When now killing police officers out of frustration and retaliation, is somehow justifiable to some people? So many more questions…

I’m not too sure how many of you know this, but I am expecting a soon to be baby boy (that’s what they told me anyway) and the thought of what’s happening in the US scares the hell out of me.  I’ve been asked on many occasions, ‘why don’t you go to the US to have your baby?  He will have automatic citizenship, countless opportunities.blah blah blah’.  It never crossed my mind to be honest, I know people do it, but that was never something I thought I’d do.  But now all I can think about is this, opportunities for what? to die on the street just for being black?  it’s scary thinking about the conversations black mothers and fathers have to have with their babies now…’son/daughter you are a target, not because of any wrong doing, but because of your skin colour’

What can we do to change this?  To be honest, I don’t know.

We are so used to killing each other that when someone else starts killing us it’s a problem.  We don’t come together when we kill each other, but we choose to do so when someone else kills us.  We only unite with mutual hate for something, which is not bad but never sustainable.  Because then we experience belonging and when that dissipates we go about our usual day and then long for that moment again.  So we will always be rejoicing in being together when shit like that happens.

But coming together is the answer, not necessarily in situations like this, but as a community and support each other.  One that cheers each other on towards greatness without sneering and wishing bad.  We need to stop thinking that the only way we can get ahead in life is if we are athletes, rappers, singers, actors and drug dealers…What people think about us is completely up to them but don’t continue to give them the ammunition.  Let’s stop reveling in the ‘bad’.  Let’s stop with making popular things like having side dudes and side chicks, having 4 and 5 baby mamas and daddies.  Let’s stop blaming other persons, like celebrities to step in and help us out, yes they have influence, but what they choose to do with their time and money is completely up to them.  Let’s start with building strong black families, a strong unit – that is such a huge threat to white supremacy.  Let’s start from small, and things will change, I have hope that we can.

As per usual..take care of yourselves and each other 🙂

ll

 

 

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Lives matter…

So I know that it’s been a really really really long time since I’ve posted anything on here.  it’s not because I’ve forgotten, it’s not because I don’t care but I’ve been crazy busy, with work, especially.  And I suppose to a certain extent, I haven’t really been inspired to write.

However, for the past few days I’ve had this tingling, this itch to express what I’ve been feeling as it relates to the killing of blacks in the United States of America.  Now I know that I’m not American, I do not live in America, I do not intend to move to America, but shit, I have family and friends living there and being threatened with the possibility of leaving for work one morning, or going to the store..or whatever and not returning home all because of……the colour of their skin.

So this has been happening for time in the US, police officers killing blacks, and I’m going to be honest here, I have been complacent, saying only to myself..’boy this is some real shit’.  Even after the advent of the camera phone technology and I see these things happening every other day, I was still like..’boy this is some real shit’.  Forgive me for this though, maybe it’s because I felt I was too far removed from the situation, I am where I am, it’s not affecting me.  But after that video of Alton Sterling, I dunno what it was but something stirred.  It stirred because when I looked at it I was like, what movie am I watching?  To me it was murder.  And when I looked at who was responsible for this murder, my mind raced back to all the times I was like ‘boy this is some real shit’.

I’m not going to ask why in 2016 this is allowed to happen.  Many of you have your reasons, chances are, most of which i fully support.  This is happening, it is getting much worse that I’m sure many of you ever anticipated.  How is the United States of America ‘united’ when a police officer mindlessly takes the life of someone of colour?  When you see disparities everyday in the way they ‘police’ white perpetrators?  When more than a few white folks can make light of the phrase ‘Black lives matter’ by the over arching ‘All lives matter’? When people can comfortably sit back and say, ‘it isn’t a race matter’? When you use a man’s past against him…so because he used to sell drugs at the side of the street 20 years ago, then killing him is justified? When now killing police officers out of frustration and retaliation, is somehow justifiable to some people? So many more questions…

I’m not too sure how many of you know this, but I am expecting a soon to be baby boy (that’s what they told me anyway) and the thought of what’s happening in the US scares the hell out of me.  I’ve been asked on many occasions, ‘why don’t you go to the US to have your baby?  He will have automatic citizenship, countless opportunities.blah blah blah’.  It never crossed my mind to be honest, I know people do it, but that was never something I thought I’d do.  But now all I can think about is this, opportunities for what? to die on the street just for being black?  it’s scary thinking about the conversations black mothers and fathers have to have with their babies now…’son/daughter you are a target, not because of any wrong doing, but because of your skin colour’

What can we do to change this?  To be honest, I don’t know.

We are so used to killing each other that when someone else starts killing us it’s a problem.  We don’t come together when we kill each other, but we choose to do so when someone else kills us.  We only unite with mutual hate for something, which is not bad but never sustainable.  Because then we experience belonging and when that dissipates we go about our usual day and then long for that moment again.  So we will always be rejoicing in being together when shit like that happens.

But coming together is the answer, not necessarily in situations like this, but as a community and support each other.  One that cheers each other on towards greatness without sneering and wishing bad.  We need to stop thinking that the only way we can get ahead in life is if we are athletes, rappers, singers, actors and drug dealers…What people think about us is completely up to them but don’t continue to give them the ammunition.  Let’s stop reveling in the ‘bad’.  Let’s stop with making popular things like having side dudes and side chicks, having 4 and 5 baby mamas and daddies.  Let’s stop blaming other persons, like celebrities to step in and help us out, yes they have influence, but what they choose to do with their time and money is completely up to them.  Let’s start with building strong black families, a strong unit – that is such a huge threat to white supremacy.  Let’s start from small, and things will change, I have hope that we can.

As per usual..take care of yourself and each other 🙂

ll

 

 

 

Greenz…health system..hospital..what?

Hello everyone! I know it’s been ages since I’ve been on here. I took a hiatus mainly because I wasn’t inspired I suppose…hope that’s an excuse I can use on here especially seeing that it’s a public health blog…who isn’t inspired by all the public health issues we are surrounded by each and every day??!! But seriously, I’ve been really busy and distracted with carnival and all the festivities that came along with it. This is now over and it came with a slight tragedy, if I can call it that, in our family; one that has inspired this blog today.   So my brother got a stroke a few weeks ago, he is 37 and it was really a shock to everyone. It was a pretty bad one too actually, which led to his right side being paralyzed and him being unable to speak. He is home now and doing better, but this case has truly been my first introduction to our health care system here in Grenada. My experience with it has not been entirely pleasant and I realize that even some of the smallest things can make a huge difference in how our system operates. So my brother needed a CT Scan pronto to identify the stroke he had to then be able to treat it accordingly. Now this scan cost a pretty penny but to us it didn’t really matter and it had to be done so it was done. However, there was a procedure involved with this. The scan couldn’t have been done unless monies were paid, or at least some arrangement of payment was confirmed.   So there you have a stroke patient, an emergency patient, who NEEDS this scan to determine treatment but unless they have the funds, they can go untreated and the worst can happen. With strokes particularly, the longer the patient goes without treatment, the worst the prognosis, and the scan is needed before treatment can even start. I’m grateful that we are able to quickly come up with the funds for the scan but what if we couldn’t? Undoubtedly there are families right now in this predicament. The thing is, in this particular case, the resources are available but the accessibility is the issue. Accessibility to health care should be paramount to everyone who needs it. That’s the essence of reducing disparities within health. Most of the complaints you hear around is that ‘..we do not have resources..’ but how are we to now react knowing that we have the resources but still can’t get it? What because we are a few pennies short? What is the point of the government then?

The drive for universal health coverage, a health system that pretty much pays for itself, is one of the ways to eliminate the problem of inaccessibility, how it provides for having resources is yet to be established but I believe it has a really strong case!

So as well as having resources, the few we do have, personally I believe we need to find tune the quality of care we do receive. Not saying that what my brother received was terrible but I believe it could’ve been way better! And that speaks to his actual care on the ward. Things like the foods he could and could not eat, which was noted multiple time but they prepared for mass consumption. Other patients on the ward had the same issues too, some going without food at times. Are we really so withdrawn that connections and relationships and lives do not matter? Or is the complaint there the usual ‘..we do not have the resources..’   What! To provide the right meals to the patients??!!

So I know this is my experience but I’m sure many could back it up and individuals may express other issues as well with the system. Money, should never be a reason individuals cannot access health. Can you believe in the Cayman Islands, every individual who requires treatment that isn’t provided in CI receives it abroad? Of course that is costly and of course CI is a higher income country than Grenada, and of course I’m not suggesting that for Grenada, I actually think that’s not the best way either. But the fact that their lives matter, and the fact that accessibility isn’t a problem are, I think, the fundamental thing to take from this.

As per normal, thanks for reading….comment, like and share!

ll

ll

Domestic violence

Hello everyone! Hope all is well with you… 🙂

I’ve been away for some time…that I am very aware. I apologize but you know how things go sometimes….life happens!

So the topic I wish to talk about this week centers around domestic violence. I know it’s an exhausted topic, you hear about it all the time, you wonder why it happens and then it happens again. Just a crazy cycle, and no doubt we all have our own opinions about it in our heads. But when we think about domestic violence, I kid you not the first thought or image or picture that comes into your head is a man beating on a woman right? This is what we know to be domestic violence. That is because we deem the woman as the meeker of the sex and so in any situation where a male, who is supposed to be strong, preys her upon is an extremely terrible thing.

Because of our thinking we do not even consider domestic violence against men. We do not even see it as a thing to be concerned about. This has always baffled me; it’s never okay for a man to hit a woman so how can it be okay the other way around? I have come across some videos on the Internet recently, over the last 2 weeks actually, of situations where women, physically and verbally abuse men, and the audience either laughed or congratulated the females. Mind you, I did not know the situation with which these acts had happened but I do not think it is justifiable. In one particular video, I’m sure many of you saw, one young man was being physically beaten by 3 or 4 young women, one of whom was his girlfriend, and the person filming the fight, a young man himself, was heard saying to the victim, ‘don’t you dare raise your hands on them’…or something to that effect. I interpreted that to mean, stay there and take your lash, I’m not going to jump in unless you start hitting on these meek young women, and then we will have a problem. I applauded that young man actually for not responding to these women, physically, which I am sure he wanted to do. In a situation like this, this should never be okay, just as how any man would be stopped if he attacked a woman, so too should these young women have been stopped.

I understand that there’s the ego thing and no man would ever admit to his woman physically abusing him. He wouldn’t say it to his friends or his family, much less the police. They would probably laugh at him and tell him to be a man! But what does that mean exactly? Being a ‘man’ means different things to different people.

My thought on this is that there’s no need to create a double standard here.   It’s never okay to hit, or beat or physically or verbally abuse your partner. It’s never okay period! But as it relates to domestic violence, it’s never okay, so let’s stop praising the women who violate their men and start shaming them (not literally), and giving them the same treatment we do if it was the other way around.

Maybe we need to focus more on anger management but that’s another discussion.

Thanks for reading and as per usual, leave comments and feedback and share! J

ll

A little off topic….

So today is May 14th 2015. I woke up early this morning and a weird sadness came over me.   For a few hours I really had no idea what it was.   Later on I was going through my plans for the day on my planner and there it was, Slocombe’s funeral.   It was only then I realized that I was affected by his death more than I lead on or I even thought I was. I knew I was going to go to the funeral either way, not because everyone was going, but because I really wanted to go. I mean who really wants to go to funerals…that’s crazy right! The fact of the matter is I met Anthony a few years ago in college whilst he was going out with a friend of mine. I mean I haven’t seen him for some time as I was away but since being back, every now and again when we see each other it was always a courteous, genuine smile and ‘hey how’s it going with you?’   And that’s what it was, that’s what it always was and has been. We never hung out, we never called each other, I knew he biked but I didn’t know he was an avid biker, like the videos show.   So in my mind, I’m like why the hell am I so sad?!! He’s been a great friend to many people and everyone had the nicest things to say about him.

I think the reason I was sad, was not because of me and the little, almost non-existent relationship I had with him but I was sad because of so many other persons, who were much closer to him, who had a chance to really know who he truly was would be left with a gaping hole somewhere in their hearts. His family and loved ones surely must be going through a lot of hurt right now, and my reasons for going is simply to be of support.

And Slocombe’s death was one of many that occurred which stirred this sympathy in me. The MPH family, where I work, have suffered as well, some alumni have passed within weeks of each other and most recently another youngster, that I’ve seen around campus. And all of this happened within one month!!!

Death is inevitable, we know it happens, it happens all around us yet we never seem to be ready for it when it does happen to someone close to us.

My only wish is that people live with no regrets, make mistakes and learn from them, grow in love. Slokie, rode bikes and dove and fished and he seemed like that’s what he loved to do and he did it to the best of his ability. I’m not saying to go jump out of plane now, but do whatever it is you need to do to make you feel alive, if that’s exercising, or reading books, or travelling, or going to the movies then go for it!   And every moment we get, let’s tell the persons we care about that we care about them, that we appreciate them, that we love them.

Take care of each other!

ll

Health Disparities

You know what grinds my nerves?! A photo like this:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/01/30/395392/Over-200k-Somali-kids-starving-UN

This photo was taken at a hospital in Somalia, in May 2014..only a year ago. I’m upset, not because yet again there is another black family suffering for the world to see, but it sickens me that this is something that still exists in our world today.   Had I thought it was eliminated altogether? No, but not to this extent. I thought one of the MDG’s was to remove world hunger, and ensuring that children specifically have the necessary nutrients they need to at least make to the age of 6?

Maybe I’m being naïve, quite possibly I am, but we need to question these goals that were set and hold our policymakers and leaders accountable.

Now this picture is just one of many that highlights a very disturbing and surreal phenomenon that happens in health care (the provision and access) around the world. That is health disparities or health inequities. What this simply means is that if you look at that above picture, there are many others like these –

http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/child-nutrition-training

The differences between these pictures are astounding. Of course you can make assumptions and some of the assumptions I’m going to make are there is better access to food in the second photo than in the first; possibly better access to health care in the second photo than the first; possibly better education on infant care and nourishment in the second photo than in the first. They are just assumptions and of course I could be wrong, but when you do think about it, child health and infant care along with pre natal care, and scarcity of food is something we do not worry about in Grenada, in fact we do take these things for granted. So why is it that we still have masses of people without the basic level of care that we get? Why do you have cases as shown in the first picture, when you know for a fact the second picture happens?

Health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes and status between different groups of people. For example, life expectancies vary tremendously between countries in the world. In Malawi, a child born today can be expected to live until the age of 47, where as in Japan this child can live until the age of 83. That hardly seems fair. In the same world, they are a few thousand miles apart but these differences exist.   Even in Grenada, our infant mortality rate is higher than in place like Europe or even the United States. This is what we mean by inequities.

I think it is worth mentioning that different countries have different abilities, different resources, different levels of management and leadership skills and abilities and so this plays a very integral part in how things operate within their country; how it’s run, how it’s organized, how its measured.

But when it comes to health, we know what affects it, and we know that it is somewhat of a right. If that is the case, then there should be more done to ensure the most basic of health.

So how do we get rid of inequities.?? I think it’s fair to say that we will never be able to fully get rid of it…well unless the world becomes one huge country and its run by communism (the true sense of communism) then maybe.   Differences exist in the world and so a good way to start is to recognize these differences and understand them, especially in the context within which it is happening.   Whether these differences are social, economical, biological or even genetics, recognizing them and understanding them is the best way of closing gaps and working towards ensuring everyone and their health status and outcomes will be more like the second photo. The hyperlink below showcases some health inequities highlighted by the WHO

http://www.who.int/sdhconference/background/news/facts/en/

Once again read, share and comment. Let’s get this conversation started!!!

Just a side note – for the next two weeks I will be away, I will endeavor to post weekly but it isn’t guaranteed….I will try 🙂

ll

Sexual Health and adolescents.

Hello everyone! And thanks those of you who read and commented on my post last week. I realized only after I posted it that it was really long and for that I apologize. I will endeavor for now and in the future to keep my posts not so long…I will try.   Sometimes, however, I get carried away. Some topics are very near and dear to me and well I have a lot to say about it. Like the topic for this week…Sexual Health.

Now I know that is something us Grenadians shy away from, we don’t like to admit that we are sexually active, we don’t like to admit that we cheat, we don’t like to admit kids as young as 8 years old have sex (yes they do!…in Greenz) but we are not here to discuss those, we just only need to admit that it happens and try to find safe ways to deal with it.

There was a time I was invited to discuss sexual health among adolescents here in Grenada as a class project for one student and I was glad that I was able to at least air some of my views, albeit it wasn’t a formal discussion and it was only for a grade, I still felt in some way my message was being heard.

So sex, why are we so afraid to talk about it??!! Maybe because we think it’s taboo here in Grenada, not the act itself, but the fact that it is personal and that we only appreciate it or accept it when it’s done within marriage. Sex however, is happening inside and outside of marriages, among young and old and because of our lack of opening up the conversation on it, things like unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STI’s/STD’s is rampant here.   In fact there are a high number of STI’s and STD’s going around in Grenada, unwanted pregnancies and abortions that are occurring and many people turn a blind eye to it.

Why is it that whenever a campaign about sex, especially sex among adolescents, come around, parents, schools and our society is so quick to shut it down. They’ve pretty much put a stop to the planned parenthood association visiting the schools and discussing healthy sexual behaviours.

Let’s face it, our children are having sex and when you hear young children aged 8 and 10 are having sex, I think we ought to be worried. Chances are these kids are having sex without being equipped with the right information, and so it may be unprotected…and we all know some of the consequences of unprotected sex.   Mind you this isn’t a discussion about forced sex, where this is also an issue, this is about 2 people, young or old, consenting to have sexual intercourse. My thing is, we are too eager to shove that topic under the carpet, our children are too afraid to go to their parents to discuss sex; their parents are the ones who should be able to be open about this with them, discuss their queries. I think, however, when this happens, people get the impression that they are effectively sending their children out to have sex. I was doing some research on this and I came across quite a few studies which found that the open parents and schools are to their children about sex and sexual behaviours and health, the less likely it is for children to have sex at a younger age, and also the more responsible they would be when they do choose to have sex. Ultimately, that is want we should strive for. We cannot ignore the fact that things and times are changing, our children are being more exposed to different lifestyles and cultures and it might be impossible to stop that so we need to adapt. Opening up the conversation about sexual health within our families and within our schools isn’t saying you have a free card to go out there and do whatever you want. We are saying that it is an issue and we acknowledge that sex is something they may be anxious about but here are the tools and here is the knowledge and education you need when it comes to making that decision, so when you do decide to take part, then you would be in a position to make an informed one and you know all of the risks and consequences involved.

Teenage pregnancies are a burden to our society, STI’s and STD’s are a burden to our society and these are things that are preventable…as easy as opening up the conversation about it to our children. So let’s break down that barrier and let us educate ourselves so we can educate our future.

As always, thank you for reading and feel free to share and comment…let’s get this conversation started!!

ll