Unnatural causes: Place matters

The video reflected on the lives of those in impoverished neighborhoods, driving home the point that environment can affect health as much as any other factor. The lifestyle of those living in Richmond, California has been in decline since the majority moved out, leaving the minority with sparse resources as big businesses pulled out. With the introduction of the poverty tax, options for affordable food include high fat content, leading to gallbladder disease among others. The hospitals in such locations see a high volume of very sick, much younger people, with no genetic history of the illnesses presented. The story of Gwai and his heart attack at 49 stemmed from excessive anxiety and worry, making his heart too weak to work, but falling on social security was not an option either. After losing a son to drugs, and a daughter to gun violence, he could depend on very little to pay back his debt. Since he could not move out of the neighborhood on his salary, and could not break this cycle as the poverty meant meagre schools and resources, he was forced to live out his life under these conditions. On the other hand, the county in Seattle who had their voices heard, managed to secure homes with better ventilation, which would give them a chance to give their children a better life and reduce their costs. However, such changes are not possible everywhere.


I was surprised at the extent to which the Laosian community suffered; there was a clear link between immigrants and low income neighborhoods, which was different from what the speaker indicated about resettlement. I also agreed that clumping them under Asian Americans gives a false positive outlook on the population. There is a set of Asian Americans fighting for spots at Harvard, which is the most easily recalled stereotype, and which does not consist of the other classes of Asians present in America. The stress and anxiety that this population has to endure leads into the children having development issues, or being under the wrong influences. It is not healthy, neither safe as indicated by Gwai’s deceased daughter, who was killed in her own home.

I think this video came at the right time, since it ended on the note that the decision lies in the hands of the policymakers. It is not just important to change the surrounding, since those displaced to perform this task are often not invited back. Rather, it needs to be phased in. As discussed in class, having the affected population present their own voices in the decisions made for their neighborhoods should be a pertinent step if more towns like Richmond, California are to be avoided.

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