THE STRUGGLE FOR A NEW AMERICA – II

For those who do not know my heritage I am Ghanaian by birth and moved to the United States about 16 yrs ago. In the US I have never been able to escape being mistaken for a Nigerian, Caribbean American or African American among a whole host of origins and associations. I have no qualms about this because I do not believe my heritage defines who or what I am. Our genetic heritage outside of the social associations and restrictions that it may imposes upon us does not define or determine who or what we are, or become.

In Charlottesville today there are violent protests between groups on two sides of a perceived racial divide. What makes this situation so sad is that we are fighting among ourselves over the social construct of race. A social divide that we have created and reinforced over centuries to determine allocation of resources and opportunities. Slavery in the Americas is one of the most extreme forms of this social policy. I use the word policy because in those times our laws supported this practice. Today though not supported by law it still exists deeply entrenched in our society. Our society has evolved from slavery into a social system that fosters racial bias with whites at the top of the hierarchy and blacks at the bottom with Asians, Jews and Hispanics somewhere in the between.

Over the ages several writers and philosophers have come out with several theories that try to propagate the belief in white supremacy. Historical accounts that accentuate white supremacy either by design or happenstance have tended to be promoted at the expense of other groups. This has created a strong believe among some white Americans that the resources of this nation should be their one of their inalienable rights at the expense of other groups. This is probably the driving force behind the protests in Charlottesville, VA. I was not surprised to hear David Duke a former KKK leader and a strong supporter of the trump campaign for president comment yesterday on the protests in Charlottesville.  “This represents the turning point with the people of this country, we are determined to take our country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That is why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he is going to take our country back and that is what we are going to do”[i]

 Duke’s statement most likely reflects the beliefs of most of the right wing protesters in Charlottesville. When David Duke mentioned taking his country back I could only cringe at his words because, I know a group of Americans who should be singing that tune. The riches and resources of this country have been divided and shared over the years. Historically slavery and post slavery Jim Crows laws have always ensured that the sharing has almost always been unequal with Black Americans getting less of the pie.

Today if there are any groups of Americans who deserve to be taking their country back, it is Native Americans. Unfortunately today Native Americans are a minority on this continent. The sacrifices and contributions of all the various racial and ethnic groups  to the greatness of this country needs to be recognized.

Today I raise a shout to all our, Latino, White, Asian, Native American, African, Jewish and Arab brothers and sisters who are standing side by side in defense of Unity and progress. Today as we mourn the protesters who died at Charlottesville ‘I say you are all great American heroes’. You stood for what America stands for, and you will be remembered by posterity.

 

References:

[i] CNN Politics; Stories worth watching; http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/08/12/david-duke-trump-charlottesville-protest-nr.cnn accessed on 8/12/2017

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My brother’s keeper – Healthcare in Trump’s America

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I recently heard a story from a colleague about a patient that he admitted who refused admission for a potentially fatal illness because he was afraid he will be arrested and deported.  This incident happened during the Obama presidency that happened to have deported close to 3 million immigrants during the 8 years in office.  ICE (Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement) reports suggest that the exact number deported in the Obama era was 2,749,706; an average of 343,713 immigrants per year.  The Department of Homeland Security however still restricts enforcement from so called sensitive locations such as schools, places of worship, hospitals, and public demonstrations and rallies to allow undocumented immigrants easy access to those sites and services.  The problem that we face today with immigration policy is not the policy itself but the publicity associated with the enforcements.  As a physician I am focused on addressing the healthcare needs of all my patients irrespective of their immigration status. Unfortunately most undocumented migrants do not know and cannot be expected to trust us if they begin to feel that the whole nation is out to get them.ice-removals-edit-2

It is clear that the publicity related to the enforcement of our current administrations immigration policy can be harmful and may have unintended consequences on the health of our immigrants.  The current public nature of this policies is not all the fault of the Trump administration though.  The public nature of current enforcement is a relic of the election era utterances and pronouncement which continues to this day. A recent Pew Research survey suggest that numbers of undocumented immigrants in the United States has stabilized and as at 2014 a large majority (66%) of these immigrant are long term immigrants who have been in the United States for 10 years or more[i].  These are people with very strong social and economic ties to the United States and removing them from this country could have a significant economic impact on this country.  The health needs of these undocumented migrants unfortunately are the responsibility of the US government.  This may sound like a damning statement to some individuals but if you consider healthcare in its totality with the inclusion of communicable diseases we realize that creating an environment that makes our visitors as I would call them from now on unwanted can have a significant impact on the health of all Americans.

Our current leadership may have come into power with strong support from some evangelical Christian groups. Franklin Graham the son of Billy Graham in his speech at the inauguration of President Trump is reported to have said that Trump won the election by the hand of God[ii]. There is no way that anyone can challenge that because Franklin Graham most probably is basing his pronouncement on a personal message that he received from God.  I however have a very public message from the Bible Matthew 25 vrs 34 – 40 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(The Bible New International Version).

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This is what the bible says; unfortunately the man chosen by the hand of God if I should believe Franklin Graham is singing a totally different tune.  I guess I can only blame God for all the fear and hatred that we see and hear about nowadays.

I certainly do not have the ear of President Trump so I do not believe what I have to say on these issues matters at all. I am just a lowly doctor and teacher trying to ensure that my patients believe they have unfettered access to my services and the services that other healthcare providers provide. These people that we call illegal immigrants are our neighbors, friends, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters and co-workers. They pick the grapes and tomatoes that we eat. They clean our yards and sometimes they actually help build some of the information systems gadgets that enables us go to cities and towns we have never visit yet freely navigate these places.

Today, in America we hear about our visitors getting shot just because they did not look or act American enough[iii]. In this environment nobody can feel safe because we can never guess what the stranger on the street thinks of us.  This is America a country of immigrants and nobody should be made to feel unsafe or unwanted just by virtue of how they look, talk or act. My message to everyone especially to some Trump supporters who believe the United States is for only whites is; “ Please remember we are all immigrants the only difference is a matter of time”   We all need to feel safe and secure in this land and some of the xenophobic rhetoric must be toned down to ensure the safety of all of us living in this country citizens and visitors.

Bibliography

[i] Pew Research Center; 5 facts about illegal immigration in the US; http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/. accessed 3/1/2017

[ii] Religious News Service; Inauguration speaker Franklin Graham: God allowed Donald Trump to win; http://religionnews.com/2016/12/30/inauguration-speaker-franklin-graham-god-allowed-donald-trump-to-win/ accessed 3/1/2017

[iii] CNN; Deadly Kansas Shooting: a senseless crime and a friend lost; http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/us/india-kansas-olathe-bar-shooting-911-calls/ accessed 3/1/2017