An editor’s departure at JAMA is bringing calls for a sharper focus on racism and its consequences.
¿Cuáles son sus principales amenazas? ¿Qué pasaría si se pierden estos bosques? ¿Qué se está haciendo para restaurarlos y conservarlos?
Residents living in the shadow of the busy Cross Bronx Expressway are among the New Yorkers who face added environmental hazards in the borough hit hardest by the pandemic.
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This is a listen to people living their lives: An immersive experience into the soundscapes and personal narratives of those living off or working for the land.
Perhaps for you this is just a calming ASMR experience after a long day of remote work. Perhaps you will see your own appreciation for place and landscape reflected in these stories.
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Let's take a listen into Yellowstone National Park, the oldest and one of the most idyllic public spaces available to the American public.
Today we speak with longtime park ranger Beth Taylor, who dives into her journey as a park ranger, and what the diverse landscapes of Yellowstone mean to her as someone dedicated to environmental education and conservation.
This episode is part of the A Listen into Landscape project, a series of audio postcards spotlighting peace, place, and connection to landscape from the perspective of those working in nature.
Michelle Gin joined the Agents of Change in Environmental Health podcast and talked about being a first-generation college graduate, what it's like working with businesses while also holding them accountable, and strategies for communicating environmental risk to different populations.
Gin, the Toxic Free Kids Communications Planner in the Environmental Health Division of the Minnesota Department of Health, is part of the current group of Agents of Change fellows.
The Agents of Change in Environmental Health podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows. You can see all of the past episodes here.
I'm super happy to be joined by Michelle Gin. Now, Michelle, how are you?
Doing well. 2020 is a crazy year.
Yes, that is a that's about the same answer. I keep getting on these. So yeah, you're you're in the same boat as most of us. So Michelle, you're our first guest here with our new group of fellows. So I'm super excited to talk to you and you have a little different role. You're coming from a state government sector, which is super cool for us. We're glad to have people outside of academia. And that's really exciting. But I wanted to start with your essay that you provided to us to get started, you talked about how your family's originally from Hong Kong and you're a first generation college graduate. I was wonder if you could tell me a little bit about what that milestone meant to you and your family?
When I think about that time, when I was that high school student going to college, it didn't quite faze me. I didn't see the significance as much because you know, your teenager is focused on like, what's going on my life. I my peers, they were all applying to universities as well. So it felt normal for me. Where I really felt started to feel different was when I realized my friend's parents, they were able to guide them through that process. It was just my mom and I and she wasn't able to mean she did the best she could we visited a couple schools, she looked through the brochures with me. But I didn't really get that same level of support. That number of my friends had ignored. And I realized that lack of support until later on. You only know what you know. It was really my first week on campus actually the week before school started. And that was because I was brought over brought in by the Iowa edge program at the University of Iowa. It was a program designed for first generation students and I am so glad they host that program because they recognize that there was a disadvantage, didn't understand how to access real academic resources, financial resources, and they truly made a difference in my ability to succeed in my four year college program.
And I mean, I finished my degree, it was fantastic International Studies and global health. And some years later, I went in for grad school and I felt pretty prepared like okay, am I bachelors, I know how to do this. And I was at the end of my two years, my master's program public health where I realized again, I had this disadvantage, and it didn't feel great. I realized at the end that there were so many things that I hadn't known before I would have done differently. I love my experience, I wouldn't change that. But I realized how I could have maximized more of my education and maximize more of the financial side of things. And again, I think that came from not Having a family member in my life to really share their experience. I know for my mom, she was incredibly proud of these achievements. She was the graduation both times waiting the long list of names for my name to get called just to walk across the stage. And it meant a lot, she would tell me how my grandma in Hong Kong, she would be working constantly saving every, every bit of money for the future. She worked in a laundry shop smaller than most people's bathrooms here in the United States. Just to get by and on her commute home to, to and from work, or get you to work. She was also working, she'd be mending people's clothes on the bus. My mom would always talk about how life was always working. And same for my own mom, she earned her associate's degree while I was in high school, because she saw the value of education. And she always told me, this is one of the most important things always push forward and do not let anything stand in your way. And she always found a way to help support me through school and also the finances of school.
Wow, that's that's a really great story. And and I guess, I do think it highlights how vastly different the experiences for people going to college for for a lot of people in the US. It's just the next step, right? It's it's for a lot of privileged students, it's just a next step, not thinking about how it can be a real challenge for some people if you don't have the kind of the support system. So getting from kind of your masters in was it public health, your masters,
Yeah it was masters in public health, focus in maternal and child health, health policy and health disparities.
So from there to your position now, tell me about that journey.
Ah, so long, long journey is never a straight path, which is how I prefer it. Before I went in, even for my Master's in Public Health, I actually thought I was a nice come a science teacher, I love the environment. Thought I love science more. But I realized I liked people. And it was while I was doing some research in Costa Rica, that I realized, like, Oh, this isn't for me. And I took a few years off to really explore things I worked in nonprofit, I work in academia. And it was through those experiences, like I really enjoyed them. But I realized my true calling was in public health. And that's when I went in to get my degree. And coming out of that I had already been thinking about where am I going to go with this? How can I make the greatest impact? I, at first, when I started school, I thought I was going to be going back into the nonprofits. Because I love community work, you get to see the people you're impacting every day, you get to see a youth go through school, and then decide if they're going to go to technical school or go to university in support their dreams, you can see changes and health can see so many things. And I love that. But what kept me kept bothering me bother me like, I wanted to make a greater impact. And I was thinking how can I do that. And it came down to policy. To me, I see that policies, shapes, systems, those systems impact more people. Like that was the way how I thought I could make a difference. And I'm like, how can I make better policy change. And that's when I decided that I think government would be a route to go, I had heard the horror stories of how slow government can work. And I was ready for that challenge. And I will agree like government does go slow. And there are reasons for that you can have policy change every year that's going to be challenging for the end user of that. And so that's how I started going to government and actually found a wonderful fit in my current role. We're gonna work on toxic free kids, the Cox three kids program looking at toxic chemicals and consumer products as a blend of trying to promote safer human health as well as environmental health since the environment and people are things I'm very passionate about and this blended them together. And in this role, I get to work on policy change, we get to make suggestions on how do we change laws that are going to protect people and their health and that is just really exciting. And it's not as community focused as it used to be I roles used to be however, I also have been lucky that I've had the freedom to really shake my role. And I have supportive leadership who they trust my judgment, how do I do this best and so I do still get into integrate the community.
I get to involve a university professor, I got to work with her entire class in first semester, we looked at skin whitening products in the Hmong community and looked at Target health communications, that would be most effective. Because your health communications are really going to read a very depending on your audience. I also get to work with our local businesses, and what are they doing. And those are some things that I didn't know I could integrate in with a government job. And I've been able to, it's been a wonderful.
It sounds like a really progressive state program when it comes to tackling toxics in that want to hear more about it. But before we move on, from kind of your path to getting there, I wanted to ask a big broad question of what is one defining moment that shaped your identity?
It's a good question.
I need a moment for that.
Sure. And while you're thinking, I will say as somebody who has been a journalist for many years, when someone says something's a good question, that usually means they really want to answer it, or they really don't want to.
Because I wish I had known that question advance, I could have prepared better. I think a defining moment for me, has been having the opportunity to live in travel abroad. So it's not one specific moment. But I can identify that there's an organization called international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war. And I have been with their organization since 2010, so it's been a decade of my life. And their work is a blend of advocacy, global citizenship, policy change, and health in the environment. And these are all things that I am passionate about. And I kind of fell into this organization by chance. And it's become a part of who I am, it's part of my identity. And that work has taken me around the US around the world, to really build strong relationships, so that that collaboration, I think, is so critical. Like I work and like people often work in silos. And through this experience, we purposely are trying to build relationships with young health professionals across borders. So as we grow into positions of leadership, we can say, I have trusted contacts in X, Y, or Z country. And we're gonna keep working on these larger issues, because it's greater than ourselves. And that I think, is a would be a defining time, that experience I had, specifically in 2012, with this organization, I met so many like minded individuals who've truly thought until those global citizens working so hard for Human Environmental Health. And they became my family. And some of that work truly has shaped where I continue to go today.
Awesome. And what was the name of the organization? Again,
International physicians for the prevention of nuclear war.
Great, awesome. Well, I hope I hope listeners check that out. I that's the first I've heard of it unless it was in passing in a news article. So very cool.
They had a Nobel Peace Prize.
Oh, geez, I should I'll have to edit that out. And so so back to where you're at now in your in your role and looking to reduce toxics in consumer products. And, you know, we talk about reducing toxics. This is kind of near and dear to my heart. You know, I've written about this for years. And, you know, we're all exposed to a variety of different air pollution, pesticides, and the cringe disruptors. In your work. You've looked to shine a light on potentially harmful products used also in specific to lower socio economic populations. And you mentioned the Hmong population. And I'm wondering if you could tell me what type of exposures we're talking about here. Other examples and how you're working to combat it?
Sure, I can. I think there's two examples that come to my mind. One that's very broad, and that is some project our team did last year. So when I say that the team is called the chemicals and products interagency team is a collaborative between the Minnesota Department of Health Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in Minnesota Department of Commerce with three state agencies, and we all bring our respective strengths to the table. And leverage our resources because you know, government has limited resources. And we have to be creative on how do we do what's best, and make the most impact. So in our group, we do consumer product testing, looking for specific chemicals, where we have policies on them here in Minnesota. So we were looking at lead and cadmium, which are heavy metals. And we were looking at them and these spitting battle toys, I'm not sure if you're familiar with what those are. Sometimes they're known as beyblades, which is a brand name. If you have children in your life, you've probably maybe seen these little toys that they like spinning tops, and you spin them and they hit one another. So it's a balance between these toys. And we had purchased a number of those toys online, as well as in person and brick and mortar stores. And we purchased products that were like the official products from two care Tomi, as well as from Hasbro. And we also purchased a number of products that were less expensive. And were the off brand versions of these bidding battle toys. So we tested 50 of these toys. And we were looking at the different pieces of them. So we were looking at the paint or the metal parts that may flake dusts, which could contain the lead and cadmium which is toxic to children. And when through this testing, we found that the name brand spinning battle toys did not show concerning levels for letter cadmium, but those that did contain the lead, cadmium were those off brand spinning battle toys. And that right there, yo those off brand toys, who's more likely to buy them, someone who might not be as financially secure. And that is something that we've seen in other products that we've done testing on is where there's less regulation or it is your lower socio economic group is more likely to purchase thing. There might be more exposure to chemicals. And that's something that our group is working on and try to identify that because when you go to purchase a product, you shouldn't have to be thinking is this going to be toxic to my health or my child's health? So that's one case where we've looked at trying to combat exposures to toxic chemicals. Another one is the work of skin lightening products. So this is the work I had mentioned earlier, how is not just within the Hmong community, skin lighting products is an issue that impacts all people of color, all around the world. This isn't a Minnesota issue a US issue. This is a world issue. Skin lending products back in 2013, were a $10 billion dollar industry and they just continue to grow skin lining products. If they are showing some kind of sign of effectiveness, it's probably because they have a chemical and agent in there that isn't good for you. And often it is mercury. Sometimes it's hydroquinone, or sometimes it's steroids, or it could be a combination of those three things. And in Minnesota, we've been coming across this issue for a number of years and have been working on trying to educate people who might be users of it. vendors who might be selling it, because if we can get it out of the supply chain, that means there's less access. And we also for this issue, we realize it's not just a supply and demand issue of these products that have toxic chemicals in it, we realize that this is an issue that goes much deeper. This is colorism. This goes back to Eurocentric beauty ideals. This goes back to the days of colonization where Europeans would go to places we know today as Asia, Africa, the Americas and view people as inferior and to a strategy that was used by colonizers was to divide people and how do you do that? You put them against one another.
So if you were someone who maybe if you looked more like colonizer sounded more like colonizer spoke more like them, like could be just a little bit easier for you. And that is some of those that's the rooted history where you might have I might have a family member telling me Oh, you want more fair skin and where does that idea come from? It comes from them being told by their elders that this will make life easier for you. We know this exists today. Racism exists today. This colorism is part of this. So that is an issue that I'm honored that our health department is spending the time and effort working on it. There are other states across the country, who we team up with California, New York, is still a relatively new issue is not very well known. Just because of mercury, for example, you can't see it, you can't smell it. You can't taste it in product, the consumer, how would they ever know it's in there, it's not like it's labeled on the product. And if it is, for some reason labeled audit, it can also take on multiple names, and just the word mercury. So this is some work that we've been doing to really educate people how it's harmful for their health and their family's health, because mercury vapors, they will go into the air. So if I had a jar of a product and had a bit of mercury in it, I open it that goes into the air of my home, if I live in a multi generational home, that's impacting the grandparents, the grandchildren, everyone there. And that's what it is one way that people can be exposed to mercury. It's inhalation dermal absorption, and ingestion. And so there's still other ways as getting into people. And oh, I could just talk about this. I hope I can answer the main question there.
Oh, for sure. And on the second issue of skin lightening, I don't think it's very well known. And I'm wondering how you and your colleagues go about not only tackling the immediate issue of stopping these harmful exposures, but of addressing some of the deep rooted racist underpinnings?
Absolutely. It is a multi prong approach. I don't think you can talk about skin lightening products without, you know, touching an uncomfortable subject. We talk about colorism every single time we give a presentation and talk about it, we open up with let's look at the history of this. Why do people want to do this? Because when we first started talking about this, sometimes I'd get those comments of Oh, isn't it funny, you know, people who identify as white they want to get tan and vice versa. It's just always grass greener, greener on the other side. And that is not true. colorism is a privilege as the product prioritizes lighter skin over dark. We know that and it's it's something that needs to be addressed. People need to go uncomfortable with it. People need to know where's this coming from? How does it impact others around them. So we always open up our education with acknowledging that. We also talk about the health side of things, it really depends on who our audience is. For businesses I can think about they want we do education with them, because they might not know that this was a problem to begin with. So we talked about one that first products are actually banned in the US in Minnesota. So there's that issue, too, if those products are still around in there, and they're selling them, they're selling to their community, and they're like, Oh, I don't want to sell a toxic part to my community members. This is my family. And that is a way that we share that message. And we also share of course, the message about it's important to love your skin so that we don't have this demand that's causing a supply.
We talk about how this is related to colorism. So all these messages, one of them or more, one or more of them will generally resonate with a person. And that's where we are able to say see behavior changes or policy changes. And that's really exciting. So it's always a multi prong approach. Minnesota really takes the attitude of education first, we're not looking to try to get people in trouble for for this.
And you mentioned working with business as one of the one of the prongs, one of the approaches that you would use. And I think that's an interesting. It's an interesting viewpoint that you can bring that maybe an academic or someone from the nonprofit world couldn't. And I think a lot of people in the environmental health space automatically think of legislative fixes when it comes to things like toxics and pollution. So I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about working with businesses to reduce harmful products and how this coupled with the power of the consumer could maybe be more powerful than always turning to regulation?
Absolutely. Well, first, I think it's a combination of both. legislation is important because it's something that you can always reference when talking to community. But also with legislation, you need to have something that passes that has enforcement with it actually has a bite to it. So that's important. So whenever policymakers are writing something up, that can sometimes be a missing part of it. So on the side, where I'm coming from, if I don't have anything to work with, I can't do you have any kind of enforcement so what does that do? So that's important, but the other side then is working with businesses, and I'd really like to uplift a business that we work with Quite a bit, they're called the longtail marketplace. In St. Paul, Minnesota. And their manager Jamie is a close friend of mine. And we have grown our relationship over a number of years because though we are government and business, which usually has this idea of like, oh, they're, they don't like each other because the government is trying to regulate the business. But that's not the relationship that Minnesota tries to take with businesses we work with. We look to do education and transparency, and having resources available being open for questions. And that question doesn't mean their business and if something bad, they're just trying to ask a clarifying question, we get trouble for it. So longtail marketplace, number of years ago, they realized they were selling these products that they shouldn't have been, and their vendors, instead of having a fine, were given the opportunity to go through an education program, so that we could understand what are these things? Why are they bad, why they should sell them anymore. And Jamie, then, over the time, worked with our local hazardous waste folks to get a container set up there to actually dispose of them. So it was like no questions. And that's a big deal. Because for these vendors, they spent a lot of money on these products. And this is something that they're giving up. But they give up because of understanding this is for their community's health. And Jamie over the time to will, he's someone I go to, like actually, just right before this interview, I we were on a phone call. And we were talking about ways to promote businesses during a time of COVID. And looking for a good info graphic type thing to promote takeout. As a way to support local businesses during this time, and people are staying home and longtime marketplace has delicious food. And Jamie also, through this experience, realizing that wanting to protect the community, from exposures to mercury from the skin lightening products, took it upon himself to integrate into their vendor leases, that these are horrible products, and that this is not allowed to be sold in their marketplace. So all their vendors actually have to sign this document to be able to be a vendor at the marketplace. And that's really exciting. And collaboration, like we're able to lean on each other to ask questions like How should the writing be like what are examples, always getting materials translated materials to them. So shamy has a very open relationship with myself and others in different levels of government because they realize that we are a helpful resource. And they are able to get ahead of things. Buy have an open door, and I can share things with them. I'm working on some communications, I can just go over and be like, Hey, what do you think about this, because he has a different idea than I might have. For example, I think there was a number of years ago, I was working on a piece in trying to find a visual that showed the value of education and how mercury has neurotoxins that could harm a child's brain, which then could impact their education. And Jamie looked at things like this doesn't make sense. Because I had used this owl because to me and education, but oh, I grew up with like, like PBS programming, for example. And like I saw it, and I was just that was natural for me like, this makes no sense. And he has it for someone who didn't grow up with that. And we changed the symbol to be I think it was, I think was a stack of books was our end result. But that collaboration is something that I see. beneficial for both of us, we both benefited from it.
And their business is one that we highlight to others of here's an example of, they had a need, they wanted to get a box to securely collect these toxic hazardous products. And this is what they did. And they are a resource to other community groups at this point now because of their experience.
That's awesome. It's really great to hear and you you know, you have a different perspective than a lot of our academics because you know, communication and outreach is kind of built into your job. So you're probably doing it more so than somebody who's kind of conducting research to publish in a very, you know, esoteric journal. But you know, agents of change this podcast, this is all designed to really to be pretty science communication out there to a broad audience as possible. And I'm wondering, kind of why you feel that's important. I'm assuming you do. You're here, and kind of what role you see for both, you know, written essays and but also social media for people in the scientific community, people in government or, you know, environmental advocates.
Absolutely. I mean, science communication is crucial. Science is complex, it has a lot of qualifiers, it is not always easy to read. I mean, if I were to try to read a scientific paper, I probably would still struggle with it at times. And it's my job to try to translate that into something that is digestible. So a strategy that I think myself and many other health communicators use is called the bite snack meal. If you're familiar with that, it's where that bite is that little something to get your audience member interested, for example, it could be social media, where I post an image of commonly, like a common skin lending product that I know is in the community and say, Did you know this is bad for your health? That's just like that little fellow interest points, then the bite is getting that person to want to maybe click on the link where they're led to some more resources that talk about what is mercury? What are the exposure pathways into my body? And why is it bad? How do I safely dispose of this because it's not safe to dispose in the trash. And the meal that is eventually getting people to maybe want to be interested in going to an event or downloading our community report where we did a study working with pregnant women, and their exposure to mercury and other chemicals. And so that's, that's one form of health communications, I feel like that we do science communication. And it's so important. I also think that humor goes a long way. Everyone likes to laugh, laughing. And that's a universal thing around the world. I have a colleague, She's hilarious, and she's a fantastic science communicator. And you can see how if you are a good presenter, and can really connect with your audience, and get that laugh, it really goes a long way. And other important things, it's not just for the laugh, though, it's for people to understand something, it's for people to find value in this work. If people didn't value, the work of science, funding for things, how to policy, you get changed. So I also see it as my job to try to power people with knowledge so that they can also make the change. Consumer purchasing power is something that I'm very interested in. Because I think about these consumer products, I will work on getting changes to ban a product, for example, or to a chemical. That's a very expensive process. But the voice of the people that will change businesses are faster. Think about BPA in plastic bottles. At one point, no one knew what that was picked up steam through good consistent messaging that this is something harmful. And now on all your BPA free BPA free. I'm starting to see in the last few years more things like bps free because similar chemicals are also similarly harmful.
And it's interesting that once you can get that good message across and you can motivate lots of the consumers and people to say no, I don't want a product that has this, businesses will change far faster than if they receive notice that government is telling them like you can't use this particular chemical anymore, you must report it if you do in certain products. So I think that is the power of science communication. You can really motivate change, and that change can be so much stronger than other methods.
So now the final question, and I really appreciate all your time today is what is the last book you read for fun?
Oh my gosh. It's on the stairs right around the clinic and the title of it.
My husband is reaching down the stairs to grab it.
A time for truth. Short stories in Minnesota, highlighting racism and challenges. That's how I spend my free time.
So it's time for truth. It's called
I'm dreadful at remembering the names of books. A Good Time for Truth: Race in Minnesota.
Excellent. And is it? I assume it's a local author there.
Yeah, it's compiled stories. It's, it has a number of compiled stories from Minnesota and it's a great read. Simple, very powerful. And it's I think it was a hit home, because because it's from Minnesota, I can recognize the places that these people are talking about.
Excellent. Well, Michelle, this has been a whole lot of fun. I really appreciate you taking time today.
Thank you. It's been my honor to be with you. I'm so excited for the agents of change fellowship program and excited to see and read what my colleagues have to say.
Ans Irfan joined the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to talk about his path from Pakistan to public health—and how the field can and should place equity and justice at its core.
Irfan, a public health scientist and lecturer at George Washington University, was part of the first group of fellows for Agents of Change, an ongoing series featuring the stories, analyses and perspectives of next generation environmental health leaders who come from historically under-represented backgrounds in science and academia.
Irfan wrote about farmworkers' rights in his essay, New country, same oppression: It's time to bolster farmworkers' rights.
The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows.
You can listen below or subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher.
Ans, how are you?
I am doing fantastic there is a pandemic I'm still six feet above ground, life is wonderful.
Excellent yeah I know that's kind of top of mind with everybody we talked to you right now. I'm really, I'm really glad you can make time today your, your essay was it really resonated with me the first time around I live in a rural area and of course wrote about farm workers rights and farm workers health. So I wanted to start there from your essay I know that you were you grew up in a Pakistan farming village you said and I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your journey from growing up, working there to coming to the US where you're at now.
Yeah, certainly. So I grew up in a farming family and it's so I think like. One thing I just want to highlight for me it's like you've been doing a lot of that work that's related to environmental justice worker rights health equity and so on. But you didn't have the language for it. So, so my experience really was that sort of like, I didn't know that these were the terms for those situations, but growing up in a farming family were like you know they're your water is Russian for your agriculture itself and that sort of impacts your crop yields and so on. And you know, I, you never get that sort of education or exposure to be able to draw the connections with climate change for instance you know that why is that that that thing is happening. So it was sort of like you know all sorts of like intersections of all sorts of health inequities from systems perspective, we're, you know, a your Pakistan is one of those countries that can and has one of the largest canal network to redistribute river water for agricultural purposes, especially in the area where I grew up, and. But then the government controls how much they can extend and then that gets distributed by the farms and how much land you have and so on.
So there was always that issue of, you know, in summertime and so on, where you would have rationing of water and that would impact your crop yields. And that had all sorts of repercussions from food insecurity to, you know, financial insecurity and so on. But you're not able to sort of like think through it because you didn't have like again like I said a moment ago exposure that it's tied back to climate change. And then, growing up in Pakistan also us started. One of their many wars and interventions around the globe in Afghanistan, which is a neighboring country to Pakistan, and that ended up having Pakistan being one of the largest refugee hosting countries, because of the US initiative and more. So socially and culturally I grew up with that context without having the language and understanding and more sophisticated terminology for a lot of that stuff. But we had a lot of fun workers with the, you know, like a lot of social pressure into Pakistani culture is fairly hospitable so like, they were very open to it but end of the day when it comes to resources and your government is spending more resources, much like the US government towards military action and militarism versus social programming. That kind of creates that tension so you know there were those workers that you saw them, not only as food vendors, but also agriculture workers and so on, that they actually had no rights whatsoever. Like if you could, you could sort of like you know they would do the job. You could deny them wages, and there were rarely any repercussions for it you know and interestingly enough, like it's quite fascinating that a lot of those challenges in agriculture world farm workers, they're very similar in the United States, even though I've been here for a very limited time and I don't claim that I do community engagement work here in the US anyways. Not yet. Anyways, but those challenges are very standard like you know there are language barriers, much like they're in the US context that's majority of them speak Spanish majority of these folks are undocumented, and in our social context, there's always this narrative in the United States that look at these illegal migrants, whatever that means. coming in and taking our jobs and whatnot. When in reality there really is that if it wasn't for this particular community, our entire country would shut down, you know like we would not be able to literally feed ourselves you know, and that's something that we don't sort of think about as much. So I always encourage people to whenever they're consuming there. I live in DC and a lot of people here are very privileged in their bubbles. You know, and they're very well educated and with very good intentions, not the most critical people I would say, so I'm always trying to encourage them to think about those farmworkers when they're consuming their fancy little salad somewhere.
So yeah, like, but to long story short I grew up there, and I ended up I had some scholarship ended up for medical school back in China. And that was partly because they have jokingly say I went to med school because I'm brown and my parents told me so.
And that's mostly because they culturally, you either have to be a physician or an engineer. There's nothing in between.
Throughout med school I was going to pursue interior designing after that, because that's something I enjoy. But I did some of the underserved related work back in China with the warrior community, which I do want to highlight in this just because they have the platform that there's an active genocide going on for the community right now where the global community has been largely silent, including the United States. And it's a, it's a majority minority situation there so their majority in that area but minority in China and Chinese government is actively committing cultural genocide at the moment for that particular community. And after moving from China and worked in Pakistan as a physician in turn for about a year. That's where I got to work closely with a little bit of brick factory workers, a little bit of Transgender Health, and I really fell in love with it, and I could never and it's till this day I cannot. Sort of like tell you that there is this one particular area of interest I have like it's just because public health is so interdisciplinary and touches everything especially with the climate change and environmental health context. It's a all of it that I just enjoy very much so. And I was fortunate to have my family moved here back in 2009, and after moving here. I just had been in public health and it's my eternal love.
You actually kind of led me into my next question so you did write about farmworker health for us and it seems like early on that kind of shaped you and maybe it's something you were paying attention to, but I've seen your writing since and some of the things you're researching and it does seem like you kind of cast a wide net when it comes to public health, environmental health, environmental justice. And I'm wondering kind of what are some of the other issues that are. Sounds like all of them, but what are some of the issues that are maybe kind of really sticking to you right now that are keeping you up at night.
Um, so I want to say like keeping me up at night I think like at the moment, I knew that folks try to avoid anything that to closely resembles politics. So currently, just because we barely survived fascism. And a few months or weeks ago.
And I just want to sort of like you know point that out that there was a lot of activism and I'm not saying it was disingenuous you know like it was very genuine like people were concerned. But I just want to uplift that part that a lot of those issues were there before a certain administration came into power. So that's what I mean by structural issues that the US society is just so individualistic people who are very well meaning and often talking about social determinants of health and structural issues and systematic issues and whatnot. So they would talk about those issues but end of the day, almost always their interventions are individual level. And that's just not going to cut it, you know. So what keeps me up at night is a that people are going to get complacent and they're not going to push the upcoming administration as hard as they should be pushing. I will always maintain that public health is very political. We are not partisan, those are two different things and we should not be complaining about the two, we should be thinking about how to develop certain frameworks or talk about these and, you know, have those conversations openly and frankly, without pushing people away, who may disagree with us on certain opinions.
But this is something I think like that's that's a fear of mine that the upcoming administration, just because of the complacency of people like myself and other people in academia is going to lead to those exact same conditions that give rise to the previous administration to begin with. So that's one of my concerns and the second thing really is they climate change, you know, climate changes. Almost all of my work has some in some shape or form has, climate change, and health equity related focus into it and climate change is a multiplier of social inequities. And that's something that I think like we still do not think as a society that it's as big of a deal as it actually is.
And by that I'm not talking about the general population. I understand that we live in a society where we're just so forced into daily grind that people don't have time to take time out and think about these issues in a critical way and I get it, but for people who are in academia and so on like this like sort of like you know, intellectual, or intellectual one person's as I like to call them with their PhDs. There are like what three to 5% of people have terminal degrees in this country so it's those people who would say in one sentence that oh it's an existential threat, but when you talk to them about solutions that almost never meet that level, what you just described the problem to be right like you know then they start talking about pragmatism and incremental ism and so on. And we are a filthy rich country. And, like I it's it and that's there's no question about it, you know, like it's just a matter of where we focus our advocacy efforts and whether or not we actually think that it's a big enough issue that's going to impact our society and across the globe, not just the United States but more importantly in the US case, when we think about the intersectionality part of things. It's almost always racial and ethnic minorities, or, you know, women or LGBTQ population and so on, who have historically faced vulnerabilities because of structural issues like racism, they're going to pay the biggest price for climate change and it's, and I just want to say that like, it's not that they're going to but they are currently at the moment you know indigenous populations is an example of it. So that's one of the things that I just want to say the like, you know, regardless of like which particular area you pick.
Climate change is almost always going to exacerbate those particular disparities and inequities. And they're, they're sort of like you know there's a, there has been a long debate between climate mitigation and climate adaptation and people have been pushing back against climate adaptation because they oh it's going to take away from mitigation efforts and so on. But the reality there is communities are suffering. Now, by no fault of their own. So we need to sort of like, think about it a lot more aggressively. Instead of doing yet another theoretical exercise, proving yet another point that we've done time and time again. Perhaps we should think about that we have this all this research. How do we take it and then apply it into policies and practices where we can adapt our society and our systems in a more equitable way because they most of these systems were not built for most people, who are not white in the United States, you know, like they were built by white people for white people. Thanks to colonisation and now we've come around to calling this stuff like using all sorts of like sophisticated terms about that stuff. So, you know, take the end of the day, all of the systems are not conducive to a large chunk of this country's population and we need to have a serious conversation about how do we go back to the drawing board and rebuilt. A lot of our society with the threat of climate change that again was caused by us.
So when you think about the inequities you talk about especially for women, people of color LGBTQ communities. You know I think climate change for so long was framed it started what the polar bears right and then we started talking about things like food security maybe crops and heat you know I'm thinking, heat stroke heat events and things like that. What are some of the more kind of insidious public health threats. For these vulnerable communities in particular, and maybe to build on that taking that next step, what are some of your big ideas, you know, taking the research out of the journal into the public sphere and whether it's through policy or other other ways how can we start to remedy some of these ills.
Yeah, I think like it's the suit, we hear this term about critical thinking all the time in public health literature and at schools and so on. But often people are not thinking about things as critically as they may claim. And I'm not.
I know I sound very lecture-y from but that's not my intention I'm just pointing out, what have you observed. And that's partly the function of the cultural shock that I had after moving to the US, that just how uncritical people were here, because you know you have a certain persona of the United States out in the outside world of this like super advanced society and have like, Wow, that's a shocker.
But I think they are. So thinking about like you know more insidious stuff like I would just want to point out that like, it's like, I don't think like we need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to for the most part, and that's why like a lot of my work is sort of like observational and it's like writing commentaries because I went back to academia to learn the language and understand the methodology really well so I could comment on a lot of this social structures and a more somewhat more confident way I suppose.
So it's thinking about like, you know, like, translate intersectionality like operationalize it, and when we operationalize it Then you really begin to think about populations, like for instance transgender population and prisons right. We still have in the United States, you know modern form of slavery, we just call it prison labor, that doesn't take away whether it actually is you know from the 13th amendment exclusion. So when we think about that thing like in and out when you add all those layers off like who these populations are, this is just one example of a number of other examples out there but just in, with respect to our time here to transfer gender population and who are imprisoned. And then like you know they have to work, and then they have to work in this climate column, climate change related variations that there, which are not conducive to their rights or protections for instance, right, the inside the prisons or outside the prisons right wildfires were happening floods were happening. We often bring people who are already in prison and then expose them to dealing with the aftermath of a lot of these disasters right and then like we're not extending the same level of workers protection to this population as we would be to other people, which in itself is a pretty abysmal situation to begin with.
And then there's a whole issue of climate adaptations, you know like your prison population like our prisons are not adapting to, you know, like climactic conditions, even though that's, that's not to say that they should be thinking about it we should really be thinking about how do we abolish prisons and not so much how do we fix this system and sustain it. But immediately urgently you know there have been cases off like people dying because of like exposure to heat because of their comorbidities and so on. And these are really sort of like you know like fundamental basic human rights issues like i i don't think like I'm asking for a lot like I'm just like end of the day like y'all was sound like, I don't think like I'm sort of like you know, saying anything novel or earth shattering I'm just observing and I'm just asking for basic human dignity for a lot of these people. So that's where sort of like you know the idea of like climate change comes in, and then like I think like on the grand idea, like I have a number of bad ideas and I used to joke about the universal health care and basic income would be a good start.
But, sort of like immediately I just want to see the like, I think, like, academic structures, mostly because like I'm, you know being a doctoral student and also a faculty member I'm involved with some of that part. And a lot of times they, these are the folks who produced this research. I think we need to hold each other accountable, and a little bit more than we do at the moment. And that also involves asking the hard question and not in a confrontational with the like asking like why are you doing what you're doing you know like, wow, is it going to affect anything beyond a few citations that you're gonna get you know, or 10 people reading it. And then we think about like, you know, any of the work that gets done. And then when we sort of like you know reform a lot of our structures within academia within NIH and so on and tie that back to impact. And that impact being defined community related work that did it lead to where is it going to lead to some change in practice in terms of policies in terms of programs and so on. How many lives is it going to improve instead of this like some hyperbole that you know that's what researchers would do right like and they would just they conduct this million dollar study, and then NBN like you know their conclusion is that it's going to improve population health and that's the magical part. That's the black box that no one knows how no one knows when or any of it. And I think like we we are collectively intelligent enough that we can develop and we should be developing those frameworks they, what are those sort of like frameworks to think about that part and the other thing is the qualitative research part. If you go back home here a couple of decades ago, people were not as comfortable with that part as they are a little bit now. And I think we're gonna bring that up to see. I know that this sounds like super basic and cliched but a lot of times, a lot of our research and that entire narrative is almost always focused on what it is, but it doesn't tell us anything about the context right like you know and that robs people off their humanity and dignity and like never provides that broader context in which we operate.
So, and that's something that I myself have been sort of like questioning myself and like thinking about it more. In fact, like I'm probably gonna send an email to my very lovely dissertation chair to maybe do one of my dissertations on qualitative work you know like related to that instead of sort of doing more quantitative work because it's always telling you what is. So I would encourage folks to like you know again like I'm targeting into academics, that think about that bigger context that like you know what is your impact like, how are you going to measure it you know like it's like that's a really important critical question and that's where I think like, people would begin to appreciate the value of mixed methods and qualitative research and so on. And for the broader population rest of my us don't like to use the term citizens. People who live in the US, the rest of us. I would just focus on that advocacy part of it really matters like you know hold your, the politicians who you voted for regardless of the party, hold their feet to fire. Ask them and like Demand Action because like that's our current system for good or for worse, so I would just say really encourage them to and reach out to academics, you know like, ask them very openly How can you support us right and academics should be reaching out to the communities as well that how can we support you in your advocacy efforts they beat at the federal level local level state level. There's a lot that happens in down ballot races. So I would just really encourage people to sort of like focus on that part and you know those folks who don't think their voice matters like just look at the results like end of the day like it's always a few 1000 that make a huge difference in terms of like you know who gets to be where. But then, like when they are there, like your story shouldn't end there your story should start at that particular point that like you know now, you will meet and and that's something like you know in the in the US context like again like I highlight that and I'm still rather new to the United States and I'm still learning the culture and everything but for all my years here in the US, you know like, its democratic party for instance, has been for the longest time, they're the ones who allegedly leading the charge on climate change in Swan and black women have historically came out and came through to save this part you from itself, and put them in positions of power and end of the day, almost always exclusively their policies were not conducive to that particular community. And that's something that I think like that's that that owners should not be on the community that that onus should be on the rest of us that we go back and hold on that now your policies should be more humane and more conducive to the population who put you in poverty to begin with. So that's what I sort of like and that's just one example and you could sort of like you know, do the exact same sort of analysis for a republican senator and so on. But just the case I'm trying to make is that public health does not operate in isolation. It is inherently tied with politics, and we should not be shying away from that particular part and we should be critical thinking about it, that when these people are empowered that's when our real work starts. And you know, instead of using all sorts of like, and I've seen this they people become experts in basically in apologetics and I sit there and think I'm like wow you have a degree in divinity, it seems, because like, instead of like pushing people that know you need to do more. And if it was the case for a country like Pakistan which has no resources, I get it, that like you don't have resources in our case in the United States. It just a matter of how do we redistribute our resources, as opposed to whether or not you have those.
Right. And I want to get on to science communication and your writing and some of those because I kind of view, the lay person communication that the writing you're doing is kind of that bridge between the science and the action right the advocacy the political will. But before we get there I have a question I like to ask and it is I want to before we move forward in your life, fast forward here is what was the defining moment that shaped your identity. I know you bounced around a little bit geographically and topically it seems like and things that were holding your interest so a defining moment that shaped your identity.
Oh, I, I'm with you and I've had this conversation before about the usage of social media, and I've only started using Twitter, like a few months ago and that was thanks to Dr. Ami.
And because she pushed me enough to start using it. So this was all to say that I'm a fairly private person outside of my very low opinions.
It's the defining moment for me really was. I'll share one of those with you that I saw when I was working back in Pakistan. And as a physician in turn there. I was setting up this particular program there for MSM population men who have sex with men.
And so the challenge there really was that we had a transgender community. And then close by and we would sort of like in it because it was a community hospital, and evening clinic would not charge them anything So, a lot of them would come visit us at that particular point. And then we also work to provide the URL for a lot of these rest of the community in the area as well. So the challenge there really was or I guess the mystery there really was that we would have this woman who would come in for their prenatal checkup, or during pregnancy and so on. But they would have all sorts of st eyes, and our challenge was that Pakistan is a fairly theocratic society and fairly gendered that they have never left their home. So how are they getting this. These STI is and that's a fair assumption to make. And you can get ascertain it a little bit more after taking the history.
But this challenge there really was that men were having sex with this like transgender community which is, which they work as sex workers and they have a, an Indian Pakistan they have a different understanding of transgender population they call it, third gender.
And so as sex workers, they had virtually no protections whatsoever, or autonomy, to be able to negotiate condom use for instance you know like or any of it because of all sorts of cultural pressures. And so one of the I and I used to volunteer in my evening clinic.
And this one particular person who I was talking to. She. She was a transgender sex worker, and it's it still makes me a bit emotional even though it's not that big of a deal but like, So the way I was talking to her like you know she just like immediately started crying and here I am This in turn I was like okay I screwed up like what did I do. And she was like, No one has ever talked to me with the level of humanity and dignity before. And so, then she was like no Can I give you a hug and I was like yeah like I'm like very huggy touchy, please, by all means, and then like you know she went on to describing her whole story of like growing up as a transgender child and then her family leaving it, leaving her on this particular shrine. And then later on, like, how society treats them and so on. And, you know, like regardless of their work like be in sex work or other type of work they may be engaging in.
So that was really sort of like to me. That's for to this bigger issue that all of this is at the system's level that like, we, we just have this obsession with individual level, focus, and we think that if we just fix the person then things are going to be just Alright, and they're almost never are.
So that was sort of like you know one of the big moments where I sort of like switched from interior designing to public health, that I was like No, it's going to be public health for sure. So,
Well, that's what a great story it reminds me a lot of. I mean great as in what it became for you I mean heartbreaking on the, on the individual level but it reminds me a lot of doing journalism for years and meeting people who you who are nice enough to have you into their homes to tell their story. And you can tell they are just so happy someone's listening. Because regulators and officials and politicians whomever has no hasn't listened to them, and it's a really big responsibility as a reporter. So I definitely feel you there.
So I did want to get into. So, science communication, which is how I met you of course through agents of change. And it seems like writing and communicating research and ideas is really important to you more so than a lot of researchers I know and I'm wondering why that is and how as a researcher that came to be since it's not often taught, or really incentivized in academia.
So I continue to call and consider myself a practitioner, not a researcher.
And part of that is that it's, it's, it's just difficult within academia.
I'm many things conformist is not one of them. And, and part of the challenge is that within academia, there is this like constant pressure to focus on one outcome or one particular thing and then just like do that, till kingdom comes, and I've never been that person especially within public health, I continue to be that kid in a candy shop I very strongly believe that I have the privilege to do something that I love so passionately A lot of people don't, they're doing their work, because it pays their bills.
I'm fortunate to do something that I genuinely am in love with. And and I want to be able to use that for that sort of like in a broader social change, and I think that comes from. And I see myself as the almost as a bridge between these people for, you know, like we can litigate them at a later time at another time like people in academia. We're constantly publishing this they exceptional knowledge out there, they're putting it out there, but it almost never gets translated well I shouldn't say that that's that's a bit harsh. A lot of times it doesn't get translated into practice you know like I give this example like read this, I believe it was a meta analysis.
One of the initial things when I was doing my mph, back in like 2014 or so that the, I think the title is that the answer is 10 years, what's the question and the answer is 17 years, what's the question something to that effect like people can Google it and they'll be able to find it. But they were looking at research when it gets published versus when it actually gets translated into practice.
And my understanding is remember serves me correctly there we're looking at research that was related to Healthcare Management. And I've had the fortune of working in health services management capacity in the past, and if you are working on top of that particular clinic or hospital, you have control over almost every single variable within that particular limited capacity, and you can sort of like control your interaction with all sorts of other stakeholders. So to me, the bigger question was that if it takes you nearly two decades to translate research in that capacity, just how long would it take for public health religion research to get actually translated, where we are often working in a lot of ambiguous scenarios and settings.
So that's where I saw like you know and it felt and it continued to feel very strongly that I, there are people who are doing this stuff and I value them I respect them I want to be able to take their stuff and uplifted. And so that's what I think like their role of science communication comes in, and especially in the US, they were thanks to our rugged individualism, which is America's favorite porn.
Thanks to that, like people think that just because we are a republic or democracy, my ignorance is as good as your knowledge, and I think like that's where the rule of science communication comes in because, like, a lot of times, either we're talking to people as though they're dumb as rocks. And we are questioning the dignity because like we're lecturing them right like without acknowledging precisely what you were talking about earlier, that as journalists when you talk to these folks like no one has listened to them, you know, for the longest time and academics are not immune to that right like when we talk to them. like, often our attitude is holier than thou, and we're just telling people you know what they should think you know like we're still trying to engage them that like there are this like a number of these issues and like this is where we fit in and meeting them where they are.
And especially with climate change, you know, like that's it and I think like it's, it's a big issue of the framing right like you know who do you talk to, how do you talk to them. There are things that may not be important to some people than they are to other people like you whisked out to this conversation you talking about polar bears now.
For a limited time in the US like I know that we don't care about polar bears like it's so I don't know who came up with it. But I'm sure it was well intentioned. Have you tied that thing back to issues that Americans care about like national security climate change is a national security threat. And you could sell, virtually anything in the US if you tagged with the national security. So from an academic perspective, I still don't understand like why issues like public health and climate change which are genuine national security threats are not tooled as such, you know, if it is about reaching a particular population. And I'm not saying that like you know be insidious for disingenuous about it like these are genuine legitimate national security issues you know like our economy basically collapsed because of this pandemic. Why, because our public health systems were historically irregardless of the administration are chronically underfunded, you know like, it's like we're paying the price for wildfires, floods, hurricanes, why because historically, none of the administration's has treated climate change with the urgency and aggressiveness that it deserves. So in all of that. Going back to your question. I think like academics should like you know, be very careful about unintentional about communicating their science and research, back to the communities, because like you know, there are few fields which has the word public literally in their field itself and public health is one of those right. And when we talk about environmental health for instance like even now like people don't understand these terms for very well. Excuse me. Like environmental health is still people think it it to be about tree huggers and so on, you know like, and you could be both. I am at the same time like it is about you know like tied back to the as the mind cancer and someone's grandma dying and so on, you know, like those are real legitimate issues that like you know we should be thinking about and tying it back to and that to me as a science communications failure. And I think like if we, if we and we should train people, almost as rigorously as we do, their other methodological training about science communications. If we are concerned about you know the social justice beyond the performative stuff that we talked about.
And so, you mentioned earlier, Twitter, and you know I obviously you're doing writings and journals and I saw a piece in the Boston Globe and of course for eh n. Um, but then there's this micro communication that we both kind of share a healthy distrust of all I'm wondering how that's been for you I know you're on Twitter now how's it going on there and are using any other social media to amplify some of your work and thoughts on these issues,
Mostly just Twitter, and I would say like even Twitter came about out of deference for us like she is the one I have the utmost respect for. And, you know, like and, and I take good advice from people who are smarter than I am and she most certainly is.
It's been great. But I think it does create, to this day, and I myself I'm like, you know, I still have like rather limited engagement with Twitter itself. But I think it creates this like microcosms where people think that Twitter is rest of the US, and it's not. And that's I think like is is and has been my sort of like one of my fears that, you know like, perhaps we have created yet another bubble for ourselves, where we think that, you know, like our work is not getting done or getting this theme sort of like you know outreach. outside of Twitter worse. So I think that's what my ongoing concern challenge what however you want to frame it is about Twitter itself and its to its you know like and I don't know like if it's a it's a social critique or however you want to call it, but I think like that's generally a challenge in the US, that people are not openly willing to engage with others and Twitter is a classic example of it it's a, you know, like, a lot of times be researchers or so on. It can become like fairly toxic where like people are often mentality of this thing digital pitchforks and torches. Without sort of like you know having an open engaged conversation to it all becomes that how pithy and snarky you can be in whatever those limited characters are, as opposed to that I'm here to do a broader engagement, and send my message out in a way that may be more conducive to a lot of the population out there.
But yeah, I mean I see a lot of value in it. I just, I think like it's, it's just not compatible with my personality otherwise you know like I love people when I'm with them. As you know, I'm a chatting person, but the whole digital part is just I think it's a more soulful personal barrier than anything Twitter related but you should try it, you should try to.
Well I was on there I was on all of them at one point as a young journalist wanting to make sure I was, um, I was out there. And now I have editor in my title so I can hide and reporters and freelancers. Go out there and promote you know i will say your first point about it not being representative of the public or the, I think that's a really important point you know I know during the selection, depending on what side you are on or who you're rooting for on policy and politician issues, you go on Twitter and you either think the world is ending or everything's perfect. I don't know about you but then I talk to people I live in a rural area and I talk to neighbors and they don't even know what's going on. They don't even know who's running or something you know that they're so far removed and it seems like we're so polarized where. And I think it amplifies that polarization or at least the facade of it.
Yeah, yeah. And it also kind of robs us of those like critical discussions that we should be having. And you know because they end of the day like it's you, we can have our viewpoint. And there are certain things which are not sort of like conducive where I suppose like up for debate, you know whatever human dignity and basic human rights are concerned via reproductive justice, Be it LGBTQ rights racism and any of that I'm not going to have like I'm not going to pander to you and have the conversation with you and like you know schmooze you into listening to me like it's a. That is not my headache, but there are many, many other issues like especially when we talk about like a lot of the solutions to a lot of that stuff. People who may be otherwise ideologically or, as far as their solutions are concerned like align with me when it comes to having those conversations, they're not very open to having those conversations you know like and like I said though like it's. then again like it's, including my own family that comes with I don't believe like maybe one or two people like rest of them like don't use it, have no clue about Twitter. When you go on it, it just seems like you know you're just constantly, like, oh, what am I going to get like angry about right now so
Right. I remember seeing a tweet once. What are we outraged about today Twitter or something like that and it runs so true I you know I will say that it's not all evil and and we found through this agents of change program. We have found we had our original cohort of which you were part and then all of a sudden we have this outpouring lvhn on our Twitter of other of other similar researchers, young researchers of color that I didn't know about the awesome work they were doing and it created this snowball effect so that I mean that was really cool and stuff like that is is just great.
And and that's that may or may not have something to do with Ami being a genius so like.
And also I think like. And this is just like not about Twitter like I think like, I, I just assume all the positives and acknowledge them so any anything I'm saying it's not zero sum game I'm just like, talking about things that most people otherwise don't talk about so that's where like I'm like, I have not been negative i promise they could I agree with you on all the positives but we should also be thinking about all this other stuffs.
Sure. So I just have a couple more questions Ans and again I appreciate your time this has been great. And this you know this kind of ties in both things we've talked about which is public health and missing, Miss or social science communication and that's we're kind of simultaneously right now in a waged in a public health and a misinformation battle, thinking about COVID and looking at that and beyond. I'm wondering if you're optimistic that science and reason and justice can and will win out.
I am very obnoxiously optimistic person so I absolutely think we will. But I do think and I continue to believe that it's going to come from critical thinking. And that means us challenging, all of our assumptions and by that I mean like virtually all of our assumptions you know like good say, going back to acknowledging America's first spins off genocide and then enslavement of human beings and so on and it's perpetuation in more sophisticated ways in our public policies right now. Because if we're not going to go back to acknowledging what we have been doing all these hundreds of years later, like, we're not going to be able to honestly move forward and I think like, that's where it needs to start, we need to acknowledge that hard historical perspective historical and justices and so on. And then we need to think about that like how do we sort of like you know, because a lot of these systems are again like I mentioned it before at some point in my rambling that a lot of these systems are very white supremacists you know like these and so when we people talk about reform, you know like, I'm not so sure if how much I buy that you know like a lot of times like these, simply need to be dismantled and build back up in a more equitable and inclusive way.
And you know it taking a speaking of like optimism, I think like the challenge there really is and has consistently been that terms come up, and then people hijacked those right like most of the corporations including academia, because we run academia as a corporation private industry.
Things like diversity and inclusion right like you know it says that's that's one of the things that I've worked in, on, on and off for many, many years.
And in my experience, more often than not, people would let me work till the point I give them what the solutions are at that point it's like our interests completely don't work, because like solutions are not conducive to their bottom line, you know solutions are not conducive to their status code because like solutions because they always treat diversity and inclusion as things.
You know, they frame these in as they rosy terms about like optimism and so on. But in reality, those are just simple processes and start to bring people to that equal grounding so they can then define and think about like how should these systems look like.
But yeah like I am very optimistic about the future of science and justice and I think I do think like it's going to move towards that, but it's not going to move towards that through thoughts and prayers or good intentions of politicians or, you know, having a white supremacist administration to worse the addition. So like none of that is going to do it, like we need to do the hard work and we need to have the hard conversations in order to push that towards justice you know like it's a book that freedom is a constant struggle, so it's it's just that the like you know I take it's a constant thing that we need to be thinking about and pushing for right and a lot of times they cannot you're gonna have people you're gonna make uncomfortable and that's fine because that's where the growth is gonna come from, because like for the longest time, with all we've done is either manage the comfort of majority of this country, which was Caucasians white people.
Or alternatively protect a system which was built on very racist and genocidal and inhumane foundation, and I think they, those are the conversations we need to have and openly and be comfortable about those.
Awesome I'll title this Ans the optimist with a question mark after optimist. So last question here what is the last book you read for fun, I see a big book belt bookshelf behind you.
Oh goodness, I have been said there is this one The City We Became.
I have this brilliant Friend Ashley ... she, her and I had been thinking about our two people book club.
Excuse me, and I have not read fiction in a very very long time. And, last time I read fiction, in a meaningful way it was in Urdu language back in Pakistan and partly because I think the language is like a lot more richer than English. English is just really planned, but this book is just it's a great social commentary and great social critique and it's been a bit difficult for me to read but it's a city we became that's the book that I'm reading right now and the other one is fissured workplace, mostly because they've been thinking a lot about good work. And that's a good book on reading it and I also concluded and this is just a shameless plug for my mentor that triumph doubt. I think like that should be a science policy Bible for a lot of people who come into science thinking that it's the Word of God. And he just walks us through all sorts of challenges about integrity and so on.
And Triumph of Doubt by David Michaels. So yeah, those are, because I read them like you know, at the same time like two three, like chapter here or chapter there or so.
So that was the city we became what was the second one
The city we became this second one is fissured workplace.
And then David's book is...
David Michael's book is Triumph of Doubt.
Awesome. Excellent. So anything you want to promote or where can people find you.
People can find me on Twitter.
I will check my Twitter. It said, p h scientist. So they're wanting to come say hi to we actually go like, I do want to see like you know I sound very negative about Twitter like you know, I've met like very nice people on it like you know reached out to me like with appreciation, or critique of my work and it's been great than that so you found a good level so far. Yes, yes, that's great.
Well, this has been a lot of fun you've been honestly one of my very favorite people I've met through this agency Change program and I mean that. Thanks so much for taking time today.
Thank you, Brian it's, it's a pleasure to work with you and thank you for doing Lord's work and keep it up and be in touch.
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