Since March, my mother has worked twelve- to fourteen-hour days, seven days a week, processing thousands of COVID-19 tests. As one of over 6,700 medical laboratory technologists working in Ontario, she works toward fulfilling the government’s quota of 16,000 tests per day. But my mother is not a stranger to long hours or the threat… Read more →
In hindsight, it was probably a touch of grad school-induced hubris that led me to assert, in an early draft of my dissertation, that the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries were marked by chronic disease epidemics. I based this conclusion on the work of scholars like sociologist Bryan Turner, who in 1987 wrote almost… Read more →
In 2016, a black baby born in Charlottesville, Virginia, was almost ten times more likely than a white baby to die in their first year of life.1 That same year, researchers from the University of Virginia revealed that nearly 21% of first-year medical students at the school believed that black patients had stronger immune systems… Read more →
On April 27 of last year, sociologist and psychiatrist Jonathan M. Metzl was at a public reading for his new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, when a group of megaphone-wielding “identitarians” interrupted him. They offered up a cringe-inducing nativist political platform and chanted “this land is… Read more →
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with 50% of its population living in poverty. A landlocked country located in East Africa between Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia, it received independence from British rule in 1964. It would take another 30 years for free elections. The country has made headlines in the last few… Read more →
For three decades, my dad’s brothers framed houses. The three of them had a small construction business in rural Connecticut. The eldest sometimes led projects as a general contractor, and other times they worked as subcontractors. With their skills and their self-made business, they also built cozy, modest houses for themselves. That part of Connecticut… Read more →
Mammogram waiting rooms are sometimes different from other medical waiting areas. If you’re going to get an x-ray of your knee or any other body part, you stay fully clothed until you are called into a private exam room. But if you’re going for a mammogram and then a follow-up ultrasound (a separate procedure), you… Read more →
By Austin McCoy
On December 15, 2011, the Obama administration announced “administration action” to protect the nation’s 1.7 million home care workers. President Obama called for the establishment of minimum wage and overtime standards that all workers recognized in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) received. These new reforms would virtually eliminate the “elder companion exemption” in the FLSA that Congress established in 1974 which allowed home care employers to continue their exploitation of home care workers.
President Obama delivered this announcement four years after the Supreme Court decided unanimously that the case’s plaintiff Evelyn Coke, and other home care workers, were not entitled to minimum wage protections and overtime pay. Like most home care workers, Evelyn Coke worked long hours for little pay. Coke performed what scholars Jennifer Klein and Elieen Boris call “intimate labor”—she cooked, cleaned, and bathed her clients. Coke worked 24 hour shifts often and she worked decades without receiving benefits. When Coke decided to sue for back pay, the Supreme Court ruled against her, reinforcing the historical stigmatization of intimate labor. Two years later, the home care workers’ movement lost Evelyn Coke. Home care workers are still waiting for Obama’s “administration action” four years after the ruling.