This film highlights several instances, which in aggregate show that there appears to be a relative lack of support and representation for Native American students at the University. Several of the students acknowledge feelings of inadequacy and a trauma associated with the lack of respect for their identities and legitimacy to be a part of the community at UNC. The solutions provided by the students also acknowledge the importance of understanding culture and creating a diverse community. Through improved representation and deeper appreciation for other cultures, supportive environments can be created for underrepresented students. Such an environment can help to address distressful situations that can be detrimental to one’s health and wellbeing.
New! Precis: The Time Coca-Cola Got White Elites in Atlanta to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
This NPR code switch article written by Jim Burress recounts the historical roles that large corporations have had in intervening within larger social movements. The article begins by discussing the aftermath of Arkansas and Indiana’s “religious freedom” laws. Large corporations including Wal-Mart, Apple, and even NASCAR voiced their opposition on the basis on the potential for discrimination against gays and lesbians, coupled to the potential of the legislation to be bad for business. The article then revisits the history of Coca-Cola intervening in Atlanta at a time were the social conservative elite initially refused to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
The article notes that when event invitations went out to Atlanta’s elite to attend a dinner honoring Dr. King for his Nobel Price, almost no one initially responded. Subsequently, the mayor of Atlanta appealed to the former CEO of Coca-Cola, Robert Woodruff, who was opened-minded and forward thinking enough to recognize that shunning of Dr. King by Coca-Cola and Atlanta, both of which had aspirations for international recognition, would be bad for business and for the image of the city. Mr. Woodruff who was at the time one of the most powerful individuals in the city was receptive to the Mayor’s concern asked the current CEO, J. Paul Austin, to intervene.
Accounts of Mr. Austin’s perspectives, as recounted by former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, note that Mr. Austin, who had previously seen the economic impact of apartheid on South Africa, would not let Atlanta succumb to “pettiness and racism” manifested in the social conservatives resistance to attending Dr. King’s event. The article concludes indicating that in response to Coca-Cola’s strong stance, more than 1,600 people were in attendance of the dinner for Dr. King and that the event proceeded without issue.
Relevance for the course: This is another example of how the activity of corporations can shape the local environment. Corporations almost always act within their self-interest, which may contribute to advancement of social justice, as seen within the actions of the aforementioned corporations or contribute to health inequities. These historical events suggest that the best way for the public health community to convince corporations of the importance of social justice in advancing health equity would be to provide a business case to establish the legitimacy of he importance of social justice and equality.
Precis: The Supreme Awakening: Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time—And How You Can Cultivate Them
By Craig Person
This is a book about transcendent meditation from ‘historical’ perspective. The back cover describes the book as bringing “… a remarkable collection of transcendent experiences reported by people through the ages and shows that they are experiences of advanced stages of human development…” I’ll talk about this aspect of the book only briefly first and then summarize the section about research on meditation, which was the part that appealed to me most in the book.
The book relies on quotes from everyone from St. Augustine to Buddha to Jesus to William James and interprets them as historical accounts of transcendental consciousness. I find this problematic because none of these people are relating their experiences about TM. Interpreting someone’s words to a practice that that person has not reported engaging in seems disingenuous and manipulative.
Chapter 9 is called “Meditation in the Laboratory” and reviews some of the research that has been conducted with regard to TM. It has a few interesting figures including a few seconds of an EEG that shows how TM brain activity is different than just resting brain activity. However, I don’t know enough about interpreting EEGs to actually know what this means other than it’s different.
I cannot say this book has relevance for a course on social justice. I would not recommend this book unless someone is into TM and wants to read a book about it. The intention is not an objective appraisal of TM, but a book promoting the power of TM.
Vanessa, perhaps I made a mistake in having your read that book rather than another one. I believe that Craig Pearson's point is that the experience of transcendental consciousness is a natural phenomenon that quite a few people have experienced in history, including a number of historically important figures. Indeed, it has been suggested that the founders of all great religions have been inspired by the experience of transcendental consciousness. He is wanting to document that transcendental consciousness is a universally available experience, not something that Maharishi invented or that is entirely a function of TM. The human nervous system has the inherent ability to function in a way that gives that experience.
However, the descriptions of the experience of transcendental consciousness are not generally accompanied by a straightforward procedure for having the experience, and before Maharishi there was not a widely available simple, systematic procedure. TM is a systematic procedure through which the mind can experience transcendental consciousness and eventually develop the ability to experience that state of consciousness permanently, along with other states of consciousness (waking, dreaming, sleeping). So I don't think that Craig Pearson is interpreting the quotations he cites as being connected to the practice of TM but rather suggesting that the question at issue is not whether transcendental consciousness exists but whether TM can in fact enable people to experience it. I suspect that most people in public health do not yet appreciate that transcendental consciousness exists, so in that regard alone Craig Pearson's book may make a real contribution.
Do you think that I am misinterpreting?
New! Precis: Irwin Schatz, 83, Rare Critic of Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Is Dead
This New York Times article highlights the actions of the late physician Irwin Schatz, who was one of the earliest critics of the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. The article recounts that when Dr. Schatz first read of the news of the study in a 1964 Archives of Internal Medicine journal, he was “appalled” that physician researchers were withholding treatment from the “poor, uneducated, black sharecroppers” that were in listed in the study. Although it was early within his professional career as a physician, he wrote a letter in 1965, protesting the ethics and morality of those involved in conducting the study.
The article continues on to note that while Dr. Schatz did not receive a reply from his letter of protest, receipt of his letter was documented as the first received and that the research investigators had no intentions of answering his letter. It would take another 7 years before the study would be revealed in The Washington Star by Peter Buxtun, a former health service interviewer. Dr. Schatz’s letter was later found by the Wall Street Journal as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. The article closes by paying tribute to additional aspects of Dr. Schatz’s professionalism.
Relevance to the Course:This brief article provides additional insight to the early opposition that existed in response to the unethical aspects of the Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. This relates to portions of the course where we have discussed the importance of understanding our own personal values and identity in the event that we may be faced with a critical and compromising decisions to make in the future. Though Dr. Schatz was not involved in the study, he made an effort to voice his concerns regarding the ethics of the Tuskegee Study, which were being disregarded. He serves as a strong example of the importance of valuing the ethical principles in public health, within the efforts of advancing health equity and social justice.