Chapters 9 and 10

Chapter nine in some aspects was able to vindicate the Lee’s.  First, American hypocrisy and ethnocentrism seemed to be a central topic of interest.  For instance, why is it so wrong for the Hmong to sacrifice animals, but it’s not wrong for us to eat meat?  Why are certain animals okay to eat but other ones aren’t?  Secondly, The Americans, particularly the Merced doctors allowed judging the Hmong cultural practices to get in the way of probably giving Lia the best care she could have received.  Additionally, we see how even though the doctors may have had her best interest at heart, it seems as if Lia got worse while she was away.  The hero of this chapter, to me, was Jeanine because she seemed to be the only one trying her hardest to bridge that gap between cultures.

I wasn’t as much of a fan of this chapter as it was basically setting the foundational information surrounding the war that drove so many Hmong to be refugees. We learned that the Hmong were farmers, and everyone basically did the same work.  Because fo this, it was a rather equal society because everyone had the same starting point/disposition.  In turn, class conflict was not as important.  They farmed many different crops, but the most notable was opium, of which they mostly sold.  Regarding the war, 90 percent of the villages in Northern Laos were affected.  Because of this, more than a third of the Hmong became refugees.

For analysis purposes, I focused mainly on chapter nine because it caused me to reflect on my own inherited ethnocentrism.  For instance, I thought about the politics of food in this country.  Take soul food, which developed from the scraps that slaveholders would give to the enslaved.  Those scraps turned into a delicacy, however, some things could be seen as rather gross.  For instance, a lot of people eat chitlins or pig intestines.  It seems as if the only determinant of whether or not something is considered “gross” are really those in power.

On another note, I thought that this reading aligned nicely with both our textbook readings and previous class discussions.  Although we haven’t got to culture and health yet, it seems that cultural orientation is a social determinant of health as well.  Regarding last weeks topic, I thought that the individual level determinants came into the picture with the fraught relationship between doctors and the Lees.   Because of this disconnect and the role of Jeanine in chapter 9, I’m thinking that having some sort of full time cultural social worker would be beneficial.  For instance, we had the debate about who’s responsibility it was to bridge cultural gaps, the doctor or the client.  I think it’d be interesting if the question was simultaneously neither and both of them.  In other words, I do think that doctors must become as culturally competent as possible.  However, because of the way our healthcare system is set up, I don’t know if it makes sense to put all of this responsibility on doctors who are crunched for time anyway.  Jeanine was able to connect with this family and went to so many lengths to get them to give Lia her medicine and follow a schedule. It seems as if maybe there could be a job just for someone to bridge this divide between the doctor and patients from vastly different cultures.

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