When you combine a Medicine, Health, and Society major with AXLE credits, you receive a semester focused on society and its issues. Despite the open-minded nature these courses have attempted to instill in me, I hated Helga Crane. Actually hated her. I don’t appreciate her inability to face her problems, and I especially don’t agree with her outlook on life. However, after today I understand her more than I did this morning.
“Race is a social construct”. I hear this statement at least once a week in my classes, and we make sure to remind each other that this social construct has no place in science. After all, science has told us there is less genetic difference between races than there is within races. But does that mean we can say race, as a concept, is “artificial”? Personally, I don’t think so.
I think that generations, centuries really, of racial tension has impacted us so deeply that we have real, inherent traits from it. My Racial and Health Disparities class discussed the heightened risk African-Americans have of developing heart problems and high blood pressure, compared to White Americans. Intersectionality ideologies attribute these risks to the high levels of life stresses experienced by African Americans due to their race. Likewise, tonight my program talked about the theory that years of intense emotional abuse, like that experienced in slavery, can impact generations. There was a study done in mice that required them to be blind folded for three years. The trauma experienced by the mice during this time caused the next seven generations to be blind. These examples of the real effects of trauma and stress helped me to understand Helga Crane.
So, Helga Crane, after thinking about the way in which race has been used to dehumanize and inflict pain on people through the ages, I hate you less. I now understand why you didn’t feel like you belonged anywhere you went. To come from an ancestry associated with so much turmoil, while also descending from the people who inflicted a large part of that turmoil, must have been difficult. Regardless of your personal experiences, the inner doubt and inclination to be weary of others’ intentions still existed. With that being said, you could have chosen better men and not kissed your friend’s guy, but I forgive you for feeling like an outsider.