At this point in the course we now understand that there are definitely issues regarding difference in how people with different ethnicities, gender and class receive healthcare and treatment. I was ecstatic to notice that we were going to read an article by Patricia Hill Collins, whose work in black feminist theory has done wonders in bridging the gap between ethnic minorities and the mainstream Anglo-American society. Collins article Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection, takes a different approach to the subject matter in that it doesn’t necessarily conduct new research but yet rather looks at how oppression effects people.
I loved that Collins looks at the three main dimensions of how oppression effects people within society, those of course being “institutional, the symbolic and the individual” (1993: 47), however what I was hoping for was that it would possibly look at more concrete examples that were rooted within the health sector as much of the information was more historical based.
Another issue I had with the article was that it seemed to take on a rather poststructuralist viewpoint in that it was arguing that we needed to break down continued dichotomies that exist within our current societies so that people of all backgrounds are seen as equals (1993: 46-52). While this notion theoretically is a good idea, what I found shocking was that she then said that there needs to be coalitions built around common causes, noting that minority groups need to band against a common cause to combat these injustices (1993: 53), however by working against the dominate group I don’t see how these ideologies (dichotomies) will be broken down and not perpetuated.
While from a feminist perspective I adore Collins viewpoint, I find that some of her ideas are more difficult to stomach when placed into the health spectrum. She concludes her article by noting that we need to build empathy no matter what side we are on (that being of privilege or the other), however I think that empathy is not exactly where we need to go when looking at the medical field. While her argument about the need for empathy make sense in that we need to understand that since oppression has been rooted in our institutions we need to understand that people have more to fight against; I feel that the medical field needs to be held at a higher standard and that empathy should be held for all in the first part.
While I did have some issues regarding this article and how it relates to the healthcare system, I can see how oppression has effected minorities psychological health, which we know effects peoples overall health over time. Its rather interesting that oppression continues to be a major factor in how people are treated, and that it still effects people who live in so called equal societies (Canada and America). While many of us think that oppression has been removed from the system it is clear that it is embedded in peoples ideologies and everyday practices which was clear in Collins “masculine and feminine exercise” (1993: 49), something that is shocking to me in this day and age.