The Collegian
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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New Perspectives: An Introduction

Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian. 

My passion for writing started long after I learned how to read. I felt that books exposed me to words and ideas I didn’t even know existed; I thought books were magical. However, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to write. I tried creative writing and comic books, but that was never really my forte. 

Eventually, I found some comfort in writing poetry, but I wanted to challenge myself by working on things grounded more in reality of the world we lived in. I envisioned a reality where the things I wrote would change the world. That is how I came up with the idea for this column: New Perspectives. I hope to use this column as a way to expose people to new ideas about features of society they would typically take for granted. 

I grew up witnessing the effects of societal inequality. Throughout my time in primary and secondary school in Nigeria, I would see other children forfeit their education to work and support their families while I was going to school everyday. To understand why this happened, I had to step out of my comfort zone and reexamine my beliefs about educational accessibility. 

Witnessing so many children unable to attend school taught me that the lens through which myself and many of my peers were taught to see the world is terribly limited in scope. For example, there is a belief that having a steady job is enough to have a comfortable life. However, data shows that the wealth gap between America’s richest and poorer families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016. This is just one measure that shows how much our ideas of the world differ from reality.

I feel the gap between reality and our perception of reality is mostly due to the idealistic way we are taught to think about the world as children. By this, I mean that we are taught about things in terms of “good” or “bad” without much acknowledgement of the nuance that exists in the world around us. My goal with this column is to create a space where people can explore new ideas about topics and issues they may have been previously exposed to and never had the chance to dive into deeply. 

With this column, I aim to present ideas that challenge or debunk widespread beliefs about things that are normally taken for granted. This semester, I plan to address themes of racial and socioeconomic inequalities in healthcare given the role they play in shaping health outcomes. As we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic -- one of the worst global health crises since the Spanish Flu pandemic -- I think talking about healthcare will be a good place to start. 

There are so many factors that can influence healthcare. For example, your zip code plays a major role in health outcomes because it limits your exposure to risk factors while increasing your access to protective factors and vice versa. Some may be aware of this and still fail to appreciate the full benefits of their living situation.   

I plan to unpack this topic through monthly book reviews dealing with different aspects of healthcare. The first book I have picked for the semester is “The Price We Pay” by Marty Makary because it gives a breakdown of the U.S. healthcare system and what is wrong with it. 

I will follow “The Price We Pay” with “Black Man in a White Coat,” which talks about racism in healthcare and healthcare education. I think this is a good way to delve deeper into structural issues in healthcare. 

I will end the column this semester by discussing “The Health Gap” because it looks at socioeconomic factors that influence health. I think it is important that this book takes a more holistic approach to how health is created by biological and socioeconomic factors, as well as how socioeconomic factors affect biological measures of health. 

I welcome the opportunity for guests to write for the column if readers would like to contribute. 

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Making meaningful changes in society won’t happen overnight. However, I hope this column gets people thinking about these issues so that when we, the leaders of tomorrow, get into the rooms and positions that require us to take a stance on these issues, we are equipped with the knowledge to bring about positive social change. 

Contact writer Abdulghaffah Abiru at ghaffah.abiru@richmond.edu

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