". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fairly Decent, Balanced, Profile of Michelle Obama

In today's NY Times. Her experience accumulated on the ground to deal with health care in this country is not that of lobbying on behalf of the health insurance corporations. From the third page of the story:

[ Hospital brass had gathered to break ground for a children’s wing when African-American protesters broke in with bullhorns, drowning out the proceedings with demands that the hospital award more contracts to minority firms.

The executives froze. Mrs. Obama strolled over and offered to meet later, if only the protestors would pipe down. She revised the contracting system, sending so much business to firms owned by women and other minorities that the hospital won awards.

In the mostly black neighborhoods around the hospital, Mrs. Obama became the voice of a historically white institution. Behind closed doors, she tried to assuage their frustrations about a place that could seem forbidding.

Like many urban hospitals, the medical center’s emergency room becomes clogged with people who need primary care. So Mrs. Obama trained counselors, mostly local blacks, to hand out referrals to health clinics lest black patients felt they were being shooed away.

She also altered the hospital’s research agenda. When the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, became available, researchers proposed approaching local school principals about enlisting black teenage girls as research subjects.

Mrs. Obama stopped that. The prospect of white doctors performing a trial with black teenage girls summoned the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of the mid-20th century, when white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.

“She’ll talk about the elephant in the room,” said Susan Sher, her boss at the hospital, where Mrs. Obama is on leave from her more-than-$300,000-a-year job. ]

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