Where: 16 Beaver St, 4th Floor, Manhattan
When: 9/28/14 @ 6PM
What is the future of struggles around social reproduction? As 2014 winds down, capital continues its offensive against reproductive labor conditions, women and trans* power, social programs, and overall quality of life for working class people in New York and beyond. Where are people pushing back? And how can we forge meaningful connections capable of linking these struggles without glossing over their particularities?
Florence Johnston Collective is an autonomous and unfunded group by and for working class people, dedicated to advancing struggle and generating analysis around issues of social reproduction.
Over the past year we have met countless inspiring people who share our desire for radical change in social reproduction. In our pickets, flyering, public meetings, movie screenings, reading groups, and door to door campaigns, we have met folks of every stripe who share a common desire for a society based on human need, and capable of human care.
As we plan our next steps, we want to hear from you.If you share our vision, want to discuss the future, or just want to hang out and see what we’re all about, join us for a dinner event to welcome the Fall and plan for the spring ahead. Bring your friends, co-workers, family, children, lovers, and let’s put our heads together toward a meaningful way forward.
Here is part two of our analysis of SB1391 from a medical worker deeply acquainted with people with addiction and in recovery. This piece further articulates the relationship between medicalization and the history of anti-drug legislation, and lays out a series of mandates/demands for healthcare and society.
Another Care is Possible: Thinking Beyond Criminalizing Substance Using Mothers
Kristen was 19 when she took her first Percocet at a party, and for that moment, all of her depression and anxieties disappeared. But it also set off a decade of addiction to pills and eventually intravenous heroin. She dropped out of college and plunged from one crisis to another. It wasn’t until Kristen realized she was pregnant that she finally reached out for help and enrolled into treatment at a New York City public hospital where doctors provided her with treatment and helped her deliver a healthy baby boy.
Kristen’s story is not a miracle – recent findings have demonstrated the effectiveness of treatment for mothers with illicit substance and alcohol dependence. However the recent passage of Tennessee’s SB 1391 has dealt a blow to women’s rights and the autonomy of healthcare workers to provide quality care. The law mandates healthcare workers to report substance abusing mothers to the police, who face misdemeanor charges if babies are deemed to be harmed by the mother’s substance abuse. Despite evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of substance treatment, cuts in education, public housing, and healthcare services have crippled efforts to support women in recovery and diverted public funds to incarceration.
Such events are not incidental and are linked to dominant historical, ideological, and economic forces that shape how healthcare is provided. We must beyond such events and rethink our autonomy as healthcare workers and how we can collaborate with marginalized communities to launch more lasting alternatives. We must open spaces in and outside the clinic that can launch conversations that allow us to listen and collaborate with marginalized communities in order to launch new modes of reproducing care.
Nixon, Reagan, and ‘Just say no’
In the 1960’s, organizations such as the American Indian Movement, Black Panther Party, Young Lords, and Brown Berets rattled the core of the American establishment. In the wake of the Civil Rights Act and weakening Jim Crow era laws, Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ re–escalated the government’s disciplinary apparatus in communities of color. Spaces and social bonds that could produce non–capitalist alternatives were nearly annihilated, including radical organizations, unions, and eventually family and neighborhood networks with the waves of foreclosures, gentrification, and rising incarceration (particularly in communities of color). A new mode of economic production would come to dominate poor communities – the sale and consumption of illicit drugs.
Second screening of the movie series hosted by Flo Jo!
Sunday July 13, 5PM-8PM
At The Commons 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (between Hoyt and Bond)
Subway: A/C/G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn or 2/3/4/5 to Nevins St
“The Waiting Room” presents an ordinary day in an Oakland public hospital emergency room, from both the workers’ and patients’ perspectives. The film asks workers what they do on a daily basis to deal with the constant (over)flow of patients, and shows them in action as they redress and remedy endless ailments and afflictions, doing some of the most demanding work in our society: care work. Simultaneously, the film depicts patients, mostly uninsured and poor, as they navigate the hospital and insurance bureaucracies and struggle to survive and be healthy another day. Join us as we bear witness to these struggles, discuss how it applies to our own lives and situations, and develop some ideas about how to fight for a society with human care at the center, for workers and patients alike.
We will have a special introduction with a former employee of the hospital, who now works in the ED of a busy New York hospital, and as always, discussion and refreshments!
For more information on Florence Johnston Collective, check this blog or contact us at email@example.com
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has been conducting a study in treating severely-wounded patients who are brought in for critical care. The study is called “EPR–CAT: Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation for Cardiac Arrest from Trauma”. Part of the study involves bringing the patient’s body temperature down to 50F by draining the blood of the patient, whose heart stopped beating, and replacing it with cold salt-water to cause artificial blood loss. Once the patient’s body is cold enough, researchers expect that they can “buy time”, gaining surgeons an extra two hours to treat the patient for their wounds. Once the surgery is complete, surgeons will return blood to the patient, causing the body to warm up gradually and eventually catch up with oxygen.
Both articles specifically mentions that the study is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Unsurprisingly, this study has been unable to get participants upon consent. Any medical studies that involve human bodies need to obtain informed consent from study subjects (patients). When patients are under a very specific condition – cardiac arrest – how will they sign consent forms? Will the surgical team force-sign a consent form by holding pen for the critically-injured, since that person might die anyway? Undaunted, these researchers have simply begun enlisting patients who come to the hospital with serious trauma injuries, without their explicit consent, to be test subjects.
NY Times reports:
“Black males are disproportionately victims of homicide, especially gun violence, and most of the patients likely to fit the study criteria in Pittsburgh are African-American males, according to officials at the medical center.”
This is no coincidence. Since the earliest days of slavery, black Americans have been victimized by nonconsensual medical testing. The notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment is perhaps the most famous example, and only a single episode in a long horrific history recently captured by historian Harriet Washington in the book Medical Apartheid. When the researchers in Pittsburgh selected a disproportionately black demographic for their testing, they did so with the confidence that comes from centuries of unaccountable medical experimentation on black Americans.
In the early stage of the research, the team began a campaign required by the Food and Drug Administration to educate area residents about the study. One of this is a Youtube video which has only been viewed 49,239 times at the time of writing. The video explains the course of the study using dummies and prompts people to spend time to contact the reseach team in order to opt out from the study: “Community members who do not wish to participate in these research studies can obtain a bracelet to opt out by going to acutecareresearch.org or contacting Tina Vita at 412-647-9652.” This perverts the notion of “consent” even more than a forced signing of consent forms, as ignorance of the program itself can be construed as consent. Even those aware of the program must navigate the bureaucratic process of obtaining a bracelet, to be worn at all times, presumably, to simply avoid becoming a test subject.
The Florence Johnston Collective is horrified by the nature of the study as well as the method of implementing the uninformed consent from the community members, and, perhaps especially, its targeting a particular ethnic group.
We are also looking further into seemingly cozy relations between hospitals (especially university-affiliated hospitals) and the Department of Defense, which we encourage others to investigate as well. We expect to find more of the same compromise of medical ethics, coupled with the increasingly obvious signs of a US state no longer concerned with even the appearance of human rights and the rule of law.
In the meantime we urge all health care officials to boycott this program, which violates not only good standards of professional ethics and human compassion, but also the Hippocratic Oath itself. Medical professionals who participate in this study willfully should not expect history to regard them as favorably as the current racist state does. And their work should be made as difficult as possible.
This summer, we’re going to spend some time doing some community surveying around hospitals but also in other areas in the community, like parks and grocery stores. We’d love to hear from you. What are your health needs? What do you think “care” actually means? Check out our survey below. And, as always, email or call us to get involved.
-FJC firstname.lastname@example.org 347-871-0352