First Friday CHO Rally Success

On June 6, 2014 at 12:15pm, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) – a branch of SEIU that represents residents in a myriad of programs across the country – coordinated a rally the Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO).An EM Resident Speaks Out

Summary of CHO Rally: Well over 30 residents and supporters attended the rally throughout the duration. Media was present to capture the event. There was healthy representation from pediatric residents (PGY1 to 3) and some representation from politicians, hospital staff and random other programs like EM residents. The demands were reasonable based on their depressed wages compared to local counterparts and Bay area housing costs. The residents claim that hospital leadership is denying a meeting with residents in an effort to refuse bargaining over their requested 2 year contract. The hospital wants a reported pay freeze for several years even though they have reported 2 years of profit and recently received a $50 million donation this fiscal year. The CHO residents are also requesting $40,000 for a Patient Care Fund to cover services for any patients who cannot afford hospital resources. The residents are also requesting a one time $2,500 bonus.

OPINION: It is hard to understand why a profitable hospital would not reward its employees with increased pay given the high costs of living in the Bay Area. Programs across the country in other locations are catching on. In 2013, Mt. Sinai Hospital in NY increased resident pay to meet the standard of the area with high costs of living. All this happened thanks to the efforts of CIR at Mt Sinai.

To be clear, most residents make close to what the average family of 4 in America make (slightly over $50K). This is not a small amount. However, almost all residents have loans that factor to reduce wages anywhere from $2-7K per year thanks to monthly loan payments. Moreover, many freshly minted residents arriving the at the hospital are hit with hidden fees not accounted for in the training process. For example, the standard in other professions such as technology, law and business is that new hires receive a one-time moving bonus to cover the costs of transplanting to a new location (costs anywhere from $2-10K). In Medicine, the resident is supposed to magically absorb those costs before receiving the first pay check. On top of that, most programs have required pre-training (ACLS/PALS that costs several hundred dollars) that is not always covered as part of the standard medical curriculum or residency program. As a result, many incoming residents must pay this course registration fee and pay for the required reading.

But the residents at this rally are not even asking for any of these costs. They just want their wages to be comparable with other residents in the Bay area, an area with an increased cost of living (average 1 BR/650 sq ft was $1350 on my investigation). The hospital reports a gap of $4 million for residency programs. Using standard Wall Street protocol, the hospital leadership will cut the number of residents in programs that will increase the workload of each individual resident. In essence, they want new residents to handle the workload that more people managed and have a pay freeze for years. Meanwhile, this $50 million dollar gift looms in the background like the reported million dollar compensation for USCF Benioff CHO CEO Bertram Lubin, MD who is the resistance to the CIR contract. Does this make sense to you?

Posted in POWER & PRIVILEGE | 1 Comment

Untitled

Confession: I don’t love you.
Rather, I never did.
I just pretended
But felt compelled to let you know what it really is.
Because it isn’t that I don’t think about you and reminisce
on past rembrances in bliss
Like those old technicolor Black & white movies during Christmas
Snowfake after snowflake falls
outside my window
Reminders
wish that you would
leave my life
and vanish from my vision
Your presence is my prison
Two words to describe you: Cold and frigid
And I hate you for it…
Posted in Spoken Word | 1 Comment

WHY DONALD STERLING WILL BE REMOVED FROM THE NBA AND THE IMPACT ON SOCIETY

RECAP: On April 26 2014, TMZ reported that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist comments in private to his “archivist” V. Stiviano over an Instagram photo with Magic Johnson. Once the audio recordings were made public, the firestorm was immediate. The story dominated the global headlines amidst the most exciting NBA playoffs (multiple Game 7s in the first round) and multiple games decided by less than 5 points. Once the audio recordings were confirmed, newly minted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Donald Sterling $2.5 million dollars and banned him for life. But this wasn’t the end. The NBA owners now have a motion before them to remove Donald Sterling on June 3. A vote in favor of the motion by ¾ of the owners is enough to remove Donald Sterling. In the interim, Donald Sterling and his estranged wife have been conspiring to fight the NBA decision and to sell the NBA team before June 3. Along with that, for some strange reason, Donald Sterling decided to grant CNN’s Anderson Cooper an interview to set the record straight. What happened next was more bizarre. Mr Sterling decided to further castigate Magic Johnson on national TV.

MY POSITION: Donald Sterling will not be the owner of the LA Clippers by the first regular season game of the NBA 2014-2015 season or there will be a huge NBA boycott causing massive losses for the entire NBA league until he leaves. Either way, Donald Sterling will not be owner of an NBA team next regular season. The fallout from his private comments will be one of the biggest Civil Rights moments ever.

Allow me to explain. First off, this has nothing to do with the law. I repeat. This has nothing to do with the law. This is about human decency and the right of the worker to penalize the employer for prejudice detrimental to their business arrangement. However, I will indulge all you wannabe Internet lawyers who think that this case will be decided in the court of law rather than in the court of public opinion.

The big legal picture is that there is a morality clause in the rules that prohibits players and owners from engaging in any activities which can negatively impact the business of the NBA such as prejudicial or threatening actions. As part of the NBA Constitution and rules, NBA Players can be disciplined for improper activities whether it be something as simple as looking at the ref the wrong way after a foul call or making threatening comments on Twitter. Owners, as part of the NBA constitution, can also be penalized for their actions off the court especially when it is detrimental to the NBA. The Commissioner gave the maximum allowable penality of $2.5 million, but the owners can go one step further and vote on his removal. There is no question that Donald Sterling’s comments were prejudicial at best! Moreover, Donald Sterling’s comments directly led to the LA Clippers losing multiple sponsorships overnight. He broke the rules and jeopardized millions of dollars. He has sullied the LA Clippers brand and the good name of the NBA who pride themselves on being good citizens as illustrated with their NBA Cares campaign.

And yet, some people think that this will be a protracted legal fight with Donald Sterling going down with guns blazing. You know what I say to that? Screw the legal mumbo jumbo. The top NBA players of all time (Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan) and best player in the league (LeBron James) have explicitly stated that Donald Sterling has no place in the NBA. These are the folks who turned the NBA into a billion dollar industry and continue to maintain it as such. The NBA players leadership is saying he has to go or they will boycott. To be clear, there is no NBA without the All-Stars such as LBJ, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. If they don’t play, then we don’t watch ie NBA D-League. To think that any of these multimillionaire gladiators like LeBron James,Blake Griffin or Chris Paul are going to be forced to play due to contractual obligations is laughable. For legal protection, all those stars have to do is state that one of the many injuries that they regularly ignore is paining them to the point where they can’t risk further injury. Even still, they have enough money in the bank that they can bear the brunt of that legal battle and the NBA fans will stand behind them. Whether the NBA sells the Clippers to new ownership in LA or Seattle, there is no physical way for the court system to force these players to play at a high level for entertainment. The mere act of attempting to force them to play with Donald Sterling as an owner would epitomize the slave plantation paradigm that looms behind every college and professional basketball and football team.

For good measure, the other NBA owners aren’t idiots. They are going to vote unanimously to remove Donald Sterling. None are so lacking in wisdom that they would stand behind an ignorant fool on a vote that is bound to go public. Doing so would mean risking tens of millions of dollars from NBA/TV/radio/Internet contracts from the inevitable boycott much less the associated political fallout. Let’s not forget that any owners who do not vote to oust Sterling (regardless of what they claim) would risk being labeled racist by association and having their respective brands negatively impacted. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a single Caucasian with a conscience who would risk the stigma of being labeled racist for the sake of a business friendship with an ignoramus instead of outing him for the $ake of $elf-intere$t.

The net result of this matter will have larger societal ramifications than Mendez v. Westminster (or the better known Brown v Board of Ed), because it sets the stage for the removal of any business owner in the private sector by the most profitable and influential employees over civil rights and social justice issues (ie NFL Washington R*dskins racist mascot, Chik-fil-A’s owner’s stand against same-sex marriage, etc). Instead of the masses galvanizing to force change in a society of unjust laws and an unjust criminal system (ie boycotting buses and marching on Washington), this is a few of the most influential members of a business (who happen to be Black) forcing out the owner (who happens to be White) for having a history of documented bigotry and bias with only the threat of a strike.

This is monumental and I’m getting tingly just typing about it. The world has never seen anything like this and the impact won’t be fully appreciated for decades. At least, that’s my two cents on the matter.

Posted in POWER & PRIVILEGE, RACISM, Thoughts | 1 Comment

Review: Marijuana use linked to heart problems

Image obtained from Wikipedia

I wanted to release this review this morning as I found the CNN article and publication in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) each extremely disturbing. Here is a link to the original article: http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/3/2/e000638.full?sid=a7d9834b-0755-446d-b5f7-8a1cef51e92a

Here is a link to the CNN article publishing this as “Science”: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/23/marijuana-use-linked-to-heart-problems/?hpt=hp_t3

You need to be mindful that this study was funded by French agencies that document and fight drug use.

Despite the litany of issues that the authors themselves clearly state, the JAHA editors allows these authors to comfortably posit that cannabis use is related to heart disease. In so doing, JAHA provides a platform for these authors to mislead the general public and hurt their overall admirable goal of decreasing deaths from cardiovascular disease and strokes.

The authors of the publication themselves state “some cases were not exhaustively informed, and events were too few assess whether the cardiovascular events were actually due to the cannabis use rather than some other risk factors using statistical modeling” (the poor grammar is their own doing). This literally means that the results are not statistically significant and that no correlation can be determined from this study between cardiovascular events and cannabis use.  It really does not get any clearer than that. And yet, the CNN article title states that there is a link when the authors themselves state that there is no demonstrated correlation.

The study is the result of aggregation of data from across 13 regional centers to find 35 cases of mostly men around the age of 34 who had cardiovascular events with little to no information on them except cannabis use. For example, in 46% of cases, there was no systematic information about the cardiac or vascular history of the patients. For 31% there was no information on the body mass index (BMI). This is vital information to determining the cause of each event. This means that a person could have been morbidly obese and smoked a few joints and they are blaming cannabis for this person’s poor health. This means that the patients could have had a family history of cardiac disease or congenital cardiac problems and we are blaming cannabis use for the cardiovascular event. Being from such different areas of the country, makes the 35 cases so heterogeneous that we don’t know what the role of lifestyle or dietary habits might play. Who knows, perhaps 20 came from one region and the others from 12 others?

Only 37 % of the cases had toxicological analysis completed. In those cases, while cannabis may have been the only drug positive, this gives no indication on the extent or time period of use. The authors rely primarily on self-reporting to fill the gap. I did try to I look for Table S1 which is supposed to have a breakdown of the information on the 35 cases on the JAHA website. However, the link is broken on their website which is more disheartening: http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/3/2/e000638/suppl/DC1

As far as my scientific eye can deduce, this is just political propaganda to scare the masses into the notion that cannabis use is unsafe. Never mind all the real data that demonstrates the increase morbidly and mortality associated with alcohol use. Instead, we give voice to those with a bias to demonize cannabis use. Needless to say, I find that extremely disturbing and hope that you do too.

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Parting Thoughts

With our souls separated by a couple thousand miles- a distance that increases by the day- I was left wondering “What are we?” One too rooted in being wounded to feel cupid could strike again from afar. The other’s pride too strong to swallow and troubled that these early “signs” might be an omen of what will follow. In this state of flux, I feel like there is “you and I” but not us. When we were an arm’s distance away, my love wasn’t enough but now you seem to say it is and expect me to just trust. I’m left feeling at a loss wondering if it’s even possible to pick up right where we left off. So… I build a wall too high for you to climb and cement it with time. Then, I put a sign up that says “Closed For Business” and “Thank You” for trying.

As hard as it may be to accept, every hello between us has turned into a goodbye.

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TOP 10 Accomplishments… while at UIUC (2005-2014)

After almost 9 years in Champaign-Urbana, I decided to list my top 10 accomplishments. Granted, there are a lot that didn’t make the list such as accomplishing live radio streaming from a pizza shop which was incredible. Nonetheless, I had to pick 10. So here they are. I hope you enjoy…

10. Travel to Central Europe

I was looking for any way to escape Champaign. The educational environment was too toxic and I needed to be away to gain clarity on why I started the MD/PhD program in the first place. I was leaving lab to head for seminar when I came across a friend that told me about a grant opportunity that seemed unreal. He said that I should apply to this NSF grant to travel to Central Europe and do research during the summer. He praised its importance and the support from the administrators. On a passing recommendation, I applied with the deadline being less than a couple months away. I just had to get out of Champaign-Urbana. I was able to successfully identify a researcher in Germany to support a suggested project depsite my lack of support on campus. I ended up being denied at first and then getting the grant when a windfall of funds was obtained. I got to live in Jena, Germany for almost 2 months and traveled sporadically for professional and personal purposes to Hungary, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic. I spent varying time in each of these places and was exposed to an extremely different way of life that opened my eyes and started to revive my hope for Science and humanity. Many people don’t get to travel during their graduate or professional training and I was able to tour Central Europe on the government’s dime.

9. LMSA

I was privileged to organize my campus, region and national board for the Latino Medical Student Association, a

www.LMSA.net

LMSA Map

professional medical student organization with thousands of members across the country. I met so many amazing people, along with a few a$#%@es, throughout my time in this group. I helped to organize a local chapter of NNLAMS (former name of LMSA) on my campus after being the sole participant for a while. From there, I was able to galvanize people to participate in Regional and National conferences. I went on to the Regional Board where I had an amazing team of motivated folks to help run the Midwest.  Yes, we had 1 or 2 scatterbrained individuals who drained me every now and then, but I was excited for my region. During my time as Regional Midwest Co-President, our region became its most profitable and experienced its largest expansion in terms of activating chapters to date.

On the advice of my mentor Dr. Phil DeChavez, I relunctantly ran for National Coordinator and won. It was an extreme privilege and we made history. We were able to write 2 grants for our organization. We were able to get one funded which paid for GLAS for the following year in the SW region in Texas. LMSA expanded well beyond its prior capacity. During my time, I had to be one (if not the) top student fundraiser. For my chapter, I helped to raise an average of $5,000 or more each year for my chapter using campus resources (SORF, SCPF, La Casa funds) and anything else I could garner from donors and fundraisers.
During my time as National Coordinator, we conducted our first streaming live conference and had over 50 participants watching it live. A year or so prior to becoming National Coordinator, LMSA SW became defunct. Something happened where the entire region de-activated and no one really knew why. After weeks of e-mailing and cajoling individuals at various institutions, I was able to get in contact with a few scholars at various SW medical schools and organize a house of delegates meeting. At this meeting, I spoke and they invited a group of key note speakers on issues affecting Latin@s in border communities and across the country. Afterwards, they voted on an e-board and the SW was been getting stronger ever since. In 2014, LMSA SW is actually hosting the National Conference which many would not have foreseen just 2 years ago. I don’t know if anyone realized how much effort I put into ensuring that this took place, but it was worth it. There were a lot of good people down there and I was more than happy to sacrifice my time.
I was able to help write and design for the first and second LMSA National Publications organized by a good friend. For the national conference my year in 2012, we held it at Harvard Medical School and featured a Presidential Medal Of Freedom recipient Dr. Pedro José Greer. On my way out of office, we successfully lobbied UIC to donate a free database for us to manage our membership. And yes, there was 1-2 scabs on the National Board and National Conference committee. But I am proud of everything that I did at each level and can honestly say that I left each level in the best condition that it had ever been when I walked out the door.

8. Rule Changes

Many people don’t know this, but there were 2 U of I rules that were changed because of me. The first is the banning of spray chalking. During 2007, I spray chalked “KKK Est. 1906 at UIUC” (this is reference to the fact that there was our University was the first to have a collegiate chapter of the Ku Klux Klan) adjacent to spray chalkings of people running for student government such as alums Chime Asonye (“Vote For Chime”) and Paul Schmitt (“Vote For Schmitt”). They erased my chalkings and none of the others. I should have sued for infringement on my civil liberties but I don’t have time for this nonsense. I didn’t come to give these people an education in Social Justice. I came to get degrees in Medicine and the Sciences.
They can spin it however they want, but they felt that my words and actions were too powerful. Instead of challenging me directly, they changed policies and procedures to try to limit me and anyone else who would employ similar tactics. To see the University of Illinois legislate its ignorance was awesome.

7. The Show – Radio Program

From the first month that I arrived to my last year in Champaign-Urbana, I was involved in some capacity with WRFU, 104.5 FM. This is a public community radio station that literally did not exist prior to my arrival. On November 8, 2005, we conducted our first broadcast. I actually had to make my first one a pre-recorded mp3 due to a conflicting event at the AHA National Conference in New Orleans that year. That was a technological learning curve that I wasn’t

expecting to tackle. I aired Fridays at 10 PM and was on almost every week during my first few years. Towards the end, I was more inclined to record content in my home studios and air it for fans and enthusiasts. I hadthe longest running program on WRFU since I literally broadcast since inception. Not exactly hard to do since I was one of the first people there. Nonetheless, it was an amazing roller coaster ride that provided me direct insight into the power of media and the importance of making the airwaves accessible.

6. The Show – TV Program

In my ire and frustation with the College of Medicine, I expanded my media efforts to TV to combat their message. Ironically, these efforts led me to having one of the most popular and impactful TV programs on UPTV. I filmed over 100 TV episodes that aired on Urbana Public TV Channel 6 and UI TV Channel 7. I eventually found out that I was eligible to put TV episodes on the U of I cable network (which is a propaganda machine for the University of Illinois). Every now and then, the different cable channel director for the U of I would reject content which was super frustrating. I mean, I am a student actively involved in the community and media. To have content that was fine by FCC standards rejected by UITV was disappointing especially when I thought the cable channel was supposed to permit students to express their own art. Obviously, that was a fool’s notion. Nonetheless, at my peak, I had content on Mondays and Wednesdays on 2 cable channels (Urbana Public TV Cable Channel 6 and University of Illinois Cable Channel 7). I would do live Fridays and do extra public comment sessions at student government meetings I am probably the first MD/PhD to produce, film, edit and host his own radio & TV program throughout his graduate & professional training without any support from the University. No one told me what to do. I wasn’t someone’s lackey to talk about what they want when they want. I did what I pleased and I advocated for issues that mattered to me. Some colleagues, students and community members supported. Some observed with disdain or disinterest. The latter was a much more prominent group. However, there were a lot of highlights from interviewing people in the community live on the street (pizza shops, bars, etc) to coordinating live events across campus (La Casa, Asian Ameican Cultural Center, Illini Union, Courtyard Cafe, Quad, etc) to events in one of my various studios over the years. I was fortunate to interview international stars and world renowned scholar Nikki Giovanni. I featured a President Medal Of Freedom Recipient Sylvia Mendoza and amazing authors (Chris Benson, John Jennings), directors (Victor Cruz, Benny Klain) and so on and so on. You get the picture.
The more time that I spent on TV, the less that I spent on the radio. Producing a radio broadcast is a differentbeast from doing TV. Plus, TV allows you to fully craft the visual associated with your art as it is consumed.
I haven’t found any evidence to the contrary, but I believe I am the first MD/PhD to have his own radio and TV program fully produced on his own throughout the graduate and professional training. For almost 9 years straight, I dominated all other students and community members in terms of media production. And this was amidst a slew of other academic obligations and projects that I oversaw. I feel extremely privileged to have been able to connect with so many people in this way.

5. Racism, Power & Privilege

The Champaign-Urbana campus is notorious for racist theme parties and random acts of ignorance. They try to cover it up but it it is annoying and detracts from the educational experience IMHO. The second year I was here, there was a crazy party held by Delta Delta Delta sorority and Zeta Beta Tau fraternity where students dressed like Mexicans (dressed like vatos, pillow under shirt to symbolize pregnant, gardeners, well… you get the picture). Anyhow, there was a huge backlash from students at the same that people were getting super pissed about the racist mascot which involved a white kid running around during sporting events dressed up like their version of a native person. I worked with a slew of scholars from staff, admin, students and community members to organize what is probably the U of I’s largest most effective event in its history. We forced the President, Chancellor, BOT members and others to sit on stage while we yelled at them. We were able to get over 3,000 present at Foellinger Hall or watching from other locations via live stream (Greg Hall, Illini Union Rooms and via internet). Shortly after this event in February 2007,  the University succumbed to the pressure and removed the image as the mascot.
Some people think that the NCAA was the real reason for the mascot removal due to the potential sanctions (ie ineligible for NCAA tournaments) but that’s absurd. To think that this wasn’t in the works for decades is dishonest. The NCAA threat of sanctions came as a result of advocacy from community groups coordinating efforts to remove the mascot and mascot imagery from NCAA sports teams.
In 2005, the American Psychological Association had released a statement citing the “harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people”. However, 1984 is the year that Charlene Teters became the first brave soul on our campus to protest the existence of the mascot. Eventually, I tried speaking and eventually yelling at so many people at various levels about this ignorant image citing it as a blaring example to legitimize my claim that there is a culture of bias and unprofessionalism at the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UI COM). People kept telling me it would never happen utilizing all sorts of racist logic to rationalize why I should accept it and move on.
Contrary to popular opinion, 2007 marked the year that a collective of professors, students, community members and outside forces were able to align to effect social change. But we didn’t only remove the mascot. We came from different perspectives to make a bunch of changes that many students don’t even know. From getting remodeling in cultural houses to advocating for various Ethnic studies Programs such as Latino/Latino Studies Major, we got physical and political changes accomplished. For those interested in watching this public meeting that is about 2 hours long, you can watch it here: http://www.iresist.org/stop/

4. Spoken Word Film & Audio Albums

I was super depressed and in a bad mind state during the second year of Medical School / 7th year of my program. I ended up doing more writing than usual as a way to vent. One random night, I stumbled upon the Urbana Public Arts grant opportunity. In the midst of all this drama and turmoil in my professional and personal life, I thought that producing a Spoken Word album would be a positive way to address my issues. I never really thought that they would give me the grant. After all, I thought, do they know how racist I think this town is?? Well, sure enough, I got the grant.  I started to consider the possibilities and move everything inmotion to create a masterpiece.
But I didn’t want to be generic or cornball. So I recruited some top notch artists including Add-2 who signed with Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder’s JamLa Records within a year of that album release. I also recruited Rokmore of TheGr8Thinkaz who is one of the most talented artists I have encountered when it comes to beat production. I linked up with some amazing spoken word artists in the interim. With that said, the most powerful video was done with Jazmine McKinney and filmed by Emmanuel Camacho. With the help of one of this students (Shabaka Verna), we were able to produce a visual masterpiece that won the Midwest Award for Best in Show in the performing arts category in 2014.
After a successul and well-received IPS volume I, I set my sites on a second tour de force. I set out to produce an album with Aaron Ammons. Ironically, volume I was supposed to be all about Aaron and I. However, we could never get in the studio together due to scheduling. I decided that I had to work with Aaron for volume II. We set goals and expectations. However, the final product far exceeded anything we could have imagined. We disseminated 200 hard copies locally and had an amazing release event that was covered in 2 publications prior to transpiring.
Not only was the second album release a huge success, but we are going to release a special video for the second album that I believe will surpass volume I and surprise many.

3. Finishing my Ph. D. in Biochemistry

After being wrongfully removed from my first lab, I was distraught. The U of I was so racist that I started to emotionally and physically feel the effects of the ignorance. I was somatizing my psychological distress in the form of back pain and poor sleep. My energy level and enthusiasm fell for the things that I love doing. That’s how salty they made me about the situation. I mean, I was in year 2 out of 8 and it was overwhelming to think how many more years I would have to endure. Despite that, I received grants, awards and recognition throughout. I finished with 2 first author publications (1 is currently under review). I have another first author publication that I am working to finish before I leave in April. Admittedly, senioritis is kicking in so that third one might be on hold.  Ironically, there were people on my campus that believed that I would not finish. I don’t even know why. I’ve faced some extremely difficult odds. And while I haven’t batted a thousand, I certainly haven’t been defeated. I don’t understand why so many people here would root for my failure either. I never cared but it was needlessly disparaging because I made plain in my words publicly my distaste. A lot of people here are heavily invested into a reality that is predicated on inequity. Acknowledging that fact and pointing to insulting factors makes you a target here. For my statements and activities, I was blacklisted within the research community at the U of I. The Biochem department lepor is the only way to describe how a lot of people interacted with me. Even still, many may walk these halls, but not all will leave with a degree much less a doctorate. I got mine. Did you?

2. Finishing my Medical Degree

Admittedly, the University of Illinois College of Medicine tainted my experience. Whether it was Dean Jennifer Bloom telling me “Ray, we want to work with you! We don’t want to have to call the police on you!” or Dean Bradford Schwartz threatening to give me a professionalism violation, my COM experience was mired in a disparaging and insulting overtone. Ironically, both of their threats would formalize in some form. The COM would initiate a bogus police investigation to legitimize campus police searching for me at my house and then lab to have a “conversation” with me. When I explained to Dean Schwartz what the

rules for a professionalism violation were, he eventually fabricated a letter to put in my file as mechansim to threaten my career. I walked a fine line with in-your-face public media to respond to their constant barrage of low level racist threatening tactics. I was almost kicked out… I almost dropped out… I almost ran out of money… So much happened throughout that I can’t explain how I felt. A medical degree was theoreticallyeasier to obtain than a PhD, but the people made it a prison sentence. Being bounded by folks who were actively undermined my ideas and activities left a bitter taste. As soon as I obtain every needed requirement to graduate from the U of I COM, I am leaving this town. I hope to never come back. With that said, I came here to obtain a graduate and a professional degree to legitimize my intellectual position amongst other leading scholars. I may not be where I want to be. But I am on track.

1. Getting into my #1 pick for Residency

At one point before all the carnage ensued from my decision to be vocal about my discontent at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, I sat in a room in my basement thinking about what might happen. I played out all the doomsday scenarios about what might be in store for the next umpteen years as a result of my potential next steps. One possibility was that I might not get into the type of residency program of my choice, much less the location.
I could have shut my mouth. Reaped the benefit of continued funding and guaranteed ascension with the research ranks with continued efforts. Instead, I had my funding threatened, cut and limited through teaching opportunities. I accepted that I would have to TA for over 6 semesters for so many courses. I accepted that I would have to teach and grade for courses with over 200 people. Think about how long it takes to grade 300 exams within 1 week. Even if you only grade 2 or 3 questions, you are incapacitated for 1 week in research doing mindless grunt work. I’d love to contrast my TA experiences with others in NIH MSTP funded MD/PhDs. The cushy calm of the quiet fell deaf on me. Not to mention accepting being socially blacklisted for my strong position on matters pertaining to marginalized populations. The social ramifications were bizarre. I’ve never been socially ousted by cornballs. As if they had anything I wanted other than civility and human decency.
There were a lot of turns where simply not being true to who I am would have yielded more favorable professional outcomes… at least momentarily. I stuck with it though, because I am of the opinion that I control my own fate. Being the best that I can be requires believing that my best effort is more than enough to accomplish my destiny. Getting into my #1 choice for residency was a validation of that belief. One that I was doubtful of for stretches. Needless to say, I made it. Hopefully it is clear by now that it is engrained in me to “persevere and achieve in spite of numerous obstacles.”
Closing Thoughts
The last decade tested the limits of my willpower and belief in humanity. I had to re-evaluate a lot of professional and personal relationships that I would have never thought that I would draw into question. That has taught me to stay focused on my long term goals and to be flexible with my short term aspirations. Although I’m proud of the accomplishments that I listed, they pail in comparison as to what i thought I was possible. For that reason, I set my sights higher. My goals are being dreamed into existence and I get better and better at it with each effort.
Posted in CENSORSHIP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, POWER & PRIVILEGE, RACISM, Thoughts | 1 Comment

Hoped: Performance Untold

After he saw how her hair caressed her curves
He changed his words
Fearful
Self-Conscious
He wanted to script the story
The perfect prose to praise her beauty
Instead he shattered
scared to be yours truly
Perhaps she wanted to be embarrassed in public
But her text not two seconds before made him change his subject
Her smile was worth more than a block of gold
But somehow his ignorance made her love turn cold
Causing things to meander from how he hoped they would unfold

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VOTE FOR SEX

Nowadays, even sex is political
So when I make love, that’s a vote that I’m giving you
when casting my ballot I’m simply quite cynical

Because I’ve stepped into the booth so many times
not knowing the candidate
ready to pull that lever
you see
Honestly, I was never judicious with my executive branch
so I was jerked every time I put it down on the legislature


I fell for the rhetoric
Line by line
suckered by the propaganda
Every single time

So angry at the deception, I want to move to impeach
but I’m so scared of the unknown
that I stick with the incumbent and roll my eyes every time she speaks

Feeling disenfranchised
I choose NOT to step into the booth
No more falling hook line and sinker for a quirky well marketed superficial bumper sticker

So…
Whether you’re an anarchist, federalist or a democratic-republican-acorn-teaparty strategist
this is just a bit of dialectic from a young Boriqua eloquetionist
There is no perfect you
And there is definitely no perfect me
So there is no right way to find the a democratic republic of WE

The search perfect candidate is simply a scheme
To replace finding someone who shares in my dreams
Someone to subsidize my love and contribute to my welfare
Really, its as simple as universal healthcare
So, before you can have my vote
I have a bill earmarked with your name on it
The question is, “Are you ready to pass it?”
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ILL POETS SOCIETY Response

2013 has been intense and we are only 1/3 of the way through. The biggest feat this month is that I completed ILL POETS SOCIETY volume I: The Spoken Word project.

I completed post-production of this project amidst my most vigorous medical school rotation in Internal Medicine. I had to negotiate my time to order 50 hard copies that I distributed across the Champaign-Urbana community. I made the audio files from the audio album in the dual disc available for free download. I put up video files on various websites of pieces off of the film. I gave copies to local radio stations to rebroadcast. I also gave copies to various people in the community to enjoy. Despite the huge time commitment, I can honestly say that this has been one of the most fulfilling artistic endeavors to date.

ILL POETS SOCIETY was a form of catharsis. I can’t convey all the madness in my life much less within the Graduate and Professional process that one must endure. The reality is that I could have turned a blind eye to the ignorance at the University of Illinois a long time ago and been the poster child for my program. At the end of the day, you have to be happy with yourself. Some people are able to compartmentalize their emotions regarding circumstances of oppression as they traverse these so-called academically challenging Institutions. I was never bestowed with the gift to close my eyes or my heart.

Some say that they will wait until they reach the position of power to then give back. They claim that once you have that top spot, you can change it and open doors for future scholars. I have never subscribed to this philosophy or put stock in its worth.

For some reason, people still don’t understand why this has been the worst academic experience that I have ever had to endure. My years here at the
So when you peer into my soul and listen the audio album or watch the film titled ILL POETS SOCIETY, know that my intent was not to entertain. I never sought to inspire. I merely attempted to tell true stories from a place of love to help ease the pain that I experience and that I know the people that I care about are experiencing. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been marred by racism and privilege hurled at through undergrads, colleagues, staff, professors, physicians, community members and just about anyone who felt like pissing in my direction. This project, ILL POETS SOCIETY, allowed me to return focus. I was able to stop focusing on the miniscule and individual situations that I was experiencing to step back and look at the Big Picture. People are suffering everywhere. The notion that I should wait until I am 40 or 50 years of age to be a Dean or Professor to finally state my position against something hateful against the

people that I love is asinine and offensive.

Far be it from me to portray myself as being without flaw though. I am an imperfect soul walking closer and closer towards my goals and further and further from my childhood. Thank you for joining me on this ride.

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Family Member

Her beautiful brown skin turned yellow
As her personality dissipated
She broke out into a familiar chorus
“Mommy, Please!”
And threw her hands in the air for something only she could see
Delirium had been set in
Crying within, her son struggled in
He and his sister caressed her forehead at the bedside
An avalanche of tears
Landslide
A thanksgiving break like any other
Filled with traditional food and time spent with my mother
And the usual hospice visit to watch the death of another

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