Venus Green | Jackson, MS – M.A., Medicine, Health, and Society
Venus Green is a native of Jackson, Mississippi and received her BA in Political Science and African American Studies with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Irvine. Her current research interests include examining middle class African American women’s health, coping mechanisms, gender ideologies, and maternal health and well-being within Black communities in the US South. Venus plans to synergistically work alongside the Maternity Services Liaison Committee in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets. Venus wishes to learn about how gender roles, structural power dynamics, and ideologies of motherhood inform one another and may craft how ethnic minority women receive and perceive maternal health care in their communities.
Blog Post One:
Minor Cognitions, Thoughts and Questions
What a time to be in London…
I wonder whether or not to punctuate the previous sentence with just a period, maybe even a semi-colon and a witty analogy, a question mark, or perhaps an exclamation point. Here, my emphasis on expression of thoughts and feelings using punctuations to convey my first 48 hours in London performs a double entendre both reflecting my own individual feelings of uncertainty as well as larger the nationalistic consciousness that ponders on exactly what to do next. Futurity or thinking about the future I feel (albeit a bit pessimistically) is one of the most debilitating as well as liberating human tragedies. The future in and of itself requires a sort of undying trust and back breaking labor on behalf of its subjects, while also having the ability to deliver absolutely nothing in return to its subjects. Once again, perhaps my sentiments seem a bit pessimistic, however, ask a Londoner on the street, or even Damian Atkinson, the head of commissioning of the London Borough of Newman, their thoughts on the UK’s next move as a nation and all will undoubtedly reply that they do not know. During one of the cohort’s day projects, I was able to critically engage with Damian along with my other colleagues in a very thought provoking and informational meeting discussing the current state of Newham post-Brexit as well as the anti-immigration campaign that was utilized to install a sense of urgency and fear into its “real citizens” to leave the EU.
During my time in London thus far I am pleasantly surprised at the amalgamation of cultures as well as the sheer diversity of the cultural mélange that exists in East London. According to Damian Atkinson’s PowerPoint presentation of the demographic makeup of east London, 29% of folks are white, 43% Asian and 20% Black. Even more encouraging is the data that shows that 89% of residents argue that people from different backgrounds get on well together in their neighborhoods. In this community, it seems as if there is a great representations of folks in every area of business all coalescing and coexisting, making for something that I have always longed to see in the United States. But what of this longing to see a peaceful coexistence between groups with different backgrounds? Perhaps this image/ fantasy of a romanticized racial mélange is quintessential to debunking political propaganda mythology that strongly believes in a criminality or deviancy that exist within ethnically diverse immigrant populations. This mythological assumption that these groups are unable to get along with one another and that they inevitably share an antagonistic relationship is quintessential to the process of being suspicious of one’s neighbor and works to systematically reestablish preexisting power structures.
Within these conversations of futurity and the birthing of a new nation, the main image that has been rendered deviant is that of a pregnant immigrant woman. Her womb being the reproductive center for producing a degraded worker for the empire who is seen as sub human, or perhaps, an alien that steals jobs, and will (in the future) outperform “normal” London citizens. This same image of the pregnant immigrant also performs the labor of being the reproductive center for new immigrants. To me, I find it ironic that the existence of these new immigrants are desperately needed for conservatives to propagate a nation to fear and admonish its citizenry to close the boarders of their nations and their minds, further allowing a type of coalescing of a conservative group to distance themselves from a more diverse futurity.
These thoughts have run through my head as I hear the buzzing conversations of east Londoners on the tube, passing by folks talking on the double decker busses, and have caused me to ask the following questions about the service that I will be involved in with the Maternity Services Liason Committee of the Social Action for Health organization in east London. They are as follows. How might these larger nationalistic ideologies hinder minority women and immigrant women from receiving the health care that they absolutely require to have a healthy baby? Do these women experience animosity from their doctors or health care providers given the widespread propaganda and ideology pertaining to immigrant women and their future children in this country? In what ways might these women resist these over deterministic narratives of their perceived deviancy and utilize their resources to have a healthy child regardless of circumstances? How might health care providers gain a sort of consciousness about minority women’s position in society in order to better serve them to their highest potential? How can we avoid pathologizing minority and immigrant pregnant women and instead contribute to imagining a futurity in which the being inside their womb can come into a world that welcomes its life instead of abhorring its future existence?
Blog Post Two:
Before I begin this post, I would like to sincerely thank the Nichols Humanitarian Fund for providing me with this incredible opportunity to be of service to several communities in London while collaboratively learning key insights into health care providership and the effects it has on the recipients. I feel that the insights of how the recipients of certain types of health care often goes unnoticed or perhaps disavowed in the case of the UK due to its universal health care coverage. Through meeting with the Mayor of Newham, talking with health care officials of various organizations, providing service with a social justice infused health organization, and talking to the folks in the city of London about their experiences with health care , I realized that the universal health care being provide seems stable, however it is on a very tumultuous ideological and political terrain. The last few weeks of service were very enriching. Upon hearing that I had only a few more days of work with Social Action for Health in Hackney, my supervisor Cari, issued a new report for me to complete.All of this served to be exciting news to me , because not only was I to get hands on experience in organizing, drafting, and executing a report for the funders to read, I also had the privilege of gaining insight on the actual narratives of the women in that area as well as how they experienced both their birth and their maternity services. It was a nerve wracking experience, due to the precision in which the organization made sure to include all of the accounts, the dates of birth of their children, the month that they were interviewed by members of the maternity liaison committee, the hospital that they gave birth to their child, their ethnicity, and whether or not the women expressed common concerns or triumphs. All of this had to be accounted for in order to organize the information into a themematized and organized report to be easily accessible to mothers in these neighborhoods, members of Social Action for Health as well as funders who want to keep track to the work, activities, programs, that are being established on behalf of this non profit. In the end I completed additional graphs detailing and outlining the demographic make up of the four main boroughs the maternity Liasion Committee conducts service and research in. These include: Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Waltham Forest. According to several key team members and of course my supervisor, the data and information that I created will be utilized at their meetings and for their records for years to come.
The forging of new connections in a new environment can be quite stressful, something that at first glance I knew would be a challenge and that I was going to have a difficulty achieving, but I handled all of my situations smoothly. To celebrate the end of the service trip and unfortunately my sojourn to the other side of the pond, the women hosted a celebration and lunch for me and for those who were unable to attend, sent their sincerest regards and appreciation during our cohort dinner. A night that I shall never forget. The organization truly appreciated the demographic data and decided to include it as a part of their overall information packet to be utilized in order to decide which ethnic or religious groups need their attention because they may be in a very unique societal position, yet they still need maternity services. The speech provided on behalf of Social Action for Health members was heartfelt and provided detail into the types of service that I provided. It was a surprise because often times I would not notice the extent of my actions and their impact.
To conclude, I would like to extend my appreciation to the kind host family that made my stay the most comfortable and enjoyable experience. I found the hospitality, fairness, kindness, and consideration that they provided to be an invaluable source of support. Thank you.