Ms. Regina McCoy Pulliam
The Politics of Health and the Crises of Identity by Collins Airhihenbuwa
Early in my academic career, I can remember that one moment when I experienced electrifying, absolute bliss- that Amen! A Ha! Moment- while researching the dichotomy of health and culture for a major research project. I sat in the far corner of the Jackson Library’s basement with towers of books from the stacks, and recording instruments such as the multi-colored Bic pen, highlighters, index cards, and composition notebooks because this was the time before laptops and Endnotes. I was profoundly irritated from the lack of sunlight, food, and sleep deprivation. My frustration continued as I dejectedly came to realize that social and behavioral research was not delving deep enough into the cultural appropriateness of our public health efforts. Yes, as a discipline we knew that a ‘cookie cutter approach’ did not work for every population; however, we still applied our Western World views to the problems of the global society, and even to those minority groups within the western world- specifically Black Americans.
Then I found the work of Collins Airhihenbuwa.
In the textbook “Health and Culture: Beyond the Western Paradigm” Dr. Aihinhenbuwa affirmed my efforts to continue to be a minority voice that challenges us to celebrate differences in identity in an effort to deconstruct and then reconstruct our approaches to health education and promotion in the global community. From then on, I was hooked. Looking back at my original copy of the textbook (because the library copy just wouldn’t do) I smile as I try to decipher the plethora of notes scribbled in the margins, the dog-eared corners to indicate ‘read me first’, and the non-stop highlighting that has faded from florescent yellow to cornflower. Even though the years have been rough on my one copy, the message is still as clear as ever.