The Camera Phone: Weapon of the Future

Yesterday my Honors 201 class had the opportunity to Skype with author and professor Alondra Nelson. We were discussing her book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination and students had the chance to ask Ms. Nelson questions concerning her book.

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photo courtesy of Shasha Y. Kimel

One student posed an interesting question in regards to the Black Panther Party, their public display of firearms and how this public display of weaponry has left a lasting impression of the BPP on society. Today, a stereotypical image of the Black Panther Party is one that evokes radical sensation and fear. We think of guns, leather jackets, and loud voices. But, as Nelson notes in her book, the Black Panther Party was not participating in unlawful activity. In fact, at that time in California (Black Panther Party members and co-founders Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton were both operating out of the Bay Area), it was legal for an individual to carry loaded firearms in public. The Party had taken a radical, but lawful, stance in policing the police who they felt were victimizing them.

At this time, Ms. Nelson made a similar argument about policing those who police us today with social media and hand-held devices. Camera phones.

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photo courtesy of David Shankbone

Think back to last Fall and to the events surrounding Occupy Wall Street. If you remember or if you were there or in any one of the many cities where these protests were taking place, you might remember being constantly glued to your phone. Tweets informed you of police raids, or marches, or where to organize. Independent filmmakers were providing us with live-streaming 24-hour news from the front lines. Tim Pool filmed most of his live-streaming footage with a camera phone. With these small devices, protesters were able to weave around activity capturing every moment as the events unfurled. Weaponry had evolved to an iPhone.

Protestors used their cameras to capture the truth. Again, we saw activists and protestors policing the police. The police must have known this because many of the camera phones and digital cameras of arrested protestors had been found erased after they were released from holding.

“Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” was a chant echoed throughout the streets during the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was a call of shame directed at police. It was not a rhetorical question.

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My Body and Me

Revisión by Daquella manera

Revisión by Daquella Manera

In the film Taking Our Bodies Back: The Women’s Health Movement we see women educating women about their bodies and their health. Released in 1974, the film explores the medicalization of women’s health issues and how this has affected women’s relationships with their bodies. There is a noted element of trust the women in the film acknowledge that exists between a doctor and patient. This concept of trust is examined and explored to understand how far removed women have become from their bodies and their health.

While watching Taking Our Bodies Back I couldn’t help but think how far I was removed from my own body. Look, I don’t really know where every organ is located in my reproductive system, nor have I had the opportunity to view any of these said organs with the exception of an obvious few. But why did it take me this long (I’m 27) to realize that this was, in fact, something that I could do on my own without the help of doctor?

Of course no one can perform open-heart surgery or brain surgery on one’s own and these procedures are better left to operating table. But these organs that are such an integral part of our bodies and our health are accessible. I think it’s safe to say that most women are not aware of this power that they have to explore their bodies.

Author Alondra Nelson notes in her book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination the importance of self-health amongst feminist health radicals in The Black Panther Party and cites the quotation from Norma Armour, “Know your body, know thyself.”

If women knew that they could establish some form of autonomy over their health and perform their own examinations, then it is possible to bridge the gap between body and self. Maybe if we could see ourselves, then we could understand what really was going on down below and could demystify the reproductive region. Isn’t it time, that we stop lying on our backs about this? When we have no idea what is what and which is where down there, we have to take the doctor at their word. Is this really a matter of trust? Or is it a result of innocent ignorance?

SR901RT-OBGYN by North Coast Outfitters, Ltd.

SR901RT-OBGYN by North Coast Outfitters, Ltd.