MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations
Hearing community voices can be difficult for most folks, especially for people in positions of authority. There tends to be a "caretaker" attitude - "don't worry, we know what's best for you." Politicians, doctors, government workers, business-people, educators, and even the occasional community activist have all at one point or another tried to make decisions for the "community good."
Southwest Research and Information Center has always embraced the philosophy of communities having a voice in decisions that affect them. To that end, when asked we try to provide communities with as much assistance as necessary to become self-sufficient and control their own destinies. And while we've tried to be sensitive to community empowerment issues, we know we have failed at times. And so we try harder, try to understand more, learn from our mistakes, and hope others will forgive our mistakes.
In this edition of Voices from the Earth, we explore the "caretaker" role with regards to the medical community. The University of New Mexico's (UNM's) Family and Community Medicine Department is working to educate future doctors to take a hard look in the mirror and see how their perspectives on people and cultures influence how they treat patients (see page 6). The ability to see a patient as a person is an important part of treating the whole body, rather than just this organ or that body part. UNM is paving the way in this regard, training future doctors to see past the patient in the hospital gown, and seeing patients in their community - learning the culture and the environment they live in. In addition, UNM is teaching doctors to look past their preconceived ideas to cultures, and to truly look at people with open eyes. And sometimes this forces people to deal with "racist" perspectives they never knew they had.
Other issues explored in this edition of Voices are Chicanas and their role (or lack of) in education. History tends to showcase the male perspective in history, overshadowing the role of women in cultural and economic movements. Other SRIC program updates are our nuclear waste safety work regarding the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and Louisiana Energy Services (LES) Uranium Enrichment Plant. And work on the front end of the nuclear cycle continues. Uranium related community work include updates on an old mine that's in the news again: the L Bar uranium mine in the Moquino/Cebolleta land grant area, and new developments regarding Hydro Resources Inc.'s (HRI's) in situ uranium mining license for Crownpoint and Church Rock, New Mexico.
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"Racism is the intentional or unintentional use of power to isolate, separate and exploit others...Racism is more than just a personal attitude; it is the institutionalized form of the attitude."
--National Council of Churces
Racial Justice Working Group
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Southwest Research and Information Center
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