I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. My area of study includes race and racism, genetics, identity politics, health policy, and culture. I got here by way of a biology, public health, & interdisciplinary doctorate degree, many years working as a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Blood Disorders, and the love and support of MANY.
I am influenced by my Jamaican ancestry, conversations had around kitchen tables, biology books, a Miami-based childhood, hair textures, the sea-and who was transported by the sea, memories, and my own point mutation.
More specifically, I am interested in the social, cultural, ethical, political and historic tensions in sickle cell disease (SCD) in both the United States and Brazil. My most recent work brought me to Brazil and explores how patients, non-governmental organizations, and the Brazilian government, at state and federal levels, have contributed to the discourse of SCD as a “black” disease, despite a prevailing cultural ideology of racial mixture. This means that I talk with a LOT of people about how they think ancestry, migration, disease, and culture are connected. Folks have a lot of opinions about these things.
After what I thought would be a very solid and secure governmental career, I found myself back in school and at 36 living in Brasilia, Rio, and Salvador Brazil after resigning from said solid and secure career. Then I became a Professor (didn’t see that one coming)! Life is funny. There are lessons to be taught and stories to be told from my research and I am interested in engaging everyone in the process. That means going beyond an academic journal and using the ideas of reciprocity that are so instilled in the oral history method. The fun part is not just the data collection, but how it gets shared too. I want voices to be heard, especially by the people who shared them in the first place. I’m just at the beginning…let’s see where the adventure takes me.