My training in social justice, bioethics, and public health help me work on children’s health issues that have affected me, my family, or my community. Many public health issues are addressed using a similar framework, like the Theory of Change, Precede-Proceed Model, or the Social Ecological Model. While I have chosen to focus my research on obesity, sexual abuse, and bullying I feel comfortable contributing to other issues that I care about too. Death by suicide, animal extinction, HIV/AIDs, grief, and loneliness are some issues that I have recently explored through my writing and performance so that I can share what I have learned with others.
Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse and childhood trauma are both personal and professional issues that inform much of my writing and public health work. My hope is to bring an authentic, compassionate, and calm voice to the issues.
My public health and ethics training also helps me participate in thinking about health issues like sexual abuse, HIV and AIDs, mental health, and climate change. While I am not an expert in those fields, my skill set and my curiosity allows me to bring those issues into my world and share my knowledge in different ways.
HIV and AIDS
In my story "Second You Are Really Nigerian", the protagonists works at an HIV AIDS clinic. He is a composite of a few researchers I knew at the time. It is a short story I wrote a long time ago for a friend. Actually the story about the story is a story.
During the first Iraq war my friend was one of the National Guards who were called to serve. As I went looking for special stationary to begin what would be two years of letter writing -- I found a beautiful set of post cards by Chester Higgins Jr. titled, African Diaspora. On the back of each postcard I wrote a chapter of Second,You Are Really Nigerian and mailed them each week. The story was inspired by the beautiful photos. I published the unedited version on Face Book Dream Alibis page. It was the versions that was on the postcards, the story was later edited and submitted to Glimmer Train and won Honorable Mention, as well as accepted into A&U: America's AIDS Magazine.
Loneliness, grief, and depression are mental health issues I explore in my play Little Red Wagon which has two endings. The first ending addresses the increasing number of death by suicide in political activists. The second ending addresses death by suicide caused by postpartum depression.
Loneliness, grief, abandonment, and estrangement are explored in my anthology of poems and flash fiction, Dream Alibis which was a collaboration with my dear friend, Ryder Cooley, an inter-disciplinary musician, artist and performer. Ryder’s beautiful illustrations are included in Dream Alibis.
Climate Change and Animal Extinction
I have had the great honor to perform with the Dust Bowl Faeries for the past four years. Band leader, Ryder performs with Hazel, a disembodied taxidermy ram, and with the band Dust Bowl Faeries. Ryder’s work weaves together chimeric visions with songs and projected imagery.
The first songs the Faeries taught me were ones about betrayals, animal extinction, and animal experimentation. I also learned the songs in the Xmalia project that honors animals who are suffering.
It is through my participation in these performances that I feel most connected to the earth and to bearing witness to the suffering we cause animals. My relationship with Hazel is one of awe and inspiration. Hazel, from my perspective, is a teacher. She helps people explore compassion and how we co-exist with animals on this beautiful and mysterious planet. Hazel provokes questions that we may not have considered before.
When I first saw Ryder wearing Hazel I asked “Why am I feeling upset about seeing a taxidermy ram on a person’s back?” “Why is my sadness different then when I see a taxidermy ram hanging on a wall in a home, or a restaurant?” "How did Hazel die?" "Why do we preserve animals bodies and display them?" Hazel can help us explore issues from how do we practice compassion for all beings to animal exticintion, to climate change.
Other Public HEalth Topics
I also love to write screenplays, and theater plays. I have a few scripts that focus on public health topics. My screenplay Centrifuge is about a group of scientists who rescue women working in the maquiladoras in Ciudad Juarez, where over 300 women have been murdered. The scientists teach the women how to test and treat horses equine encephalitis, which is devastating their agricultural communities.
Another play, Lulu and Her Search for Individual Happiness and World Peace, is about an older man deeply regretting his acceptance of a decision an old lover made to have an abortion.