The Souths Revisited

When I first compared Mississippi to Bolivia, though I made a few valid points, I honestly thought that might be perceived as reaching a little bit. However, with the directing comments and historical explanation from Dr. Miguel along with being here for a longer time, I see now that there are truly more similarities than I initially suspected. Really honing in on topics of healthcare in Bolivia the last two weeks, this is a domain in which I certainly see many resemblances. With regards to healthcare, I’ve observed some social concepts here that, although back home as well, I’ve never actually reflected on.

In my few blog posts, I’ve been writing a little bit about how with across the nation of Bolivia there definitely exists a sort of “hazing” in many ways from the developed to the undeveloped. I’ve mentioned briefly how this kind of dynamic plays out in Mississippi too, but what I have found especially interesting is the perceptions of this phenomenon. Both places like to magically discount the regions that, in their minds, make the whole look worse. When I told Paceños (citizens of La Paz) I was going to Oruro to look into the medical care provided there and infant mortality, they were shocked I would go to such a dirty place that could in no way have the kind of medical attention that one could enjoy in other parts of Bolivia. Back home, I’ve heard the hollow excuse “Well if you take out the Delta, Mississippi isn’t so bad in the {whatever MS is ranked last in},” far too many times. As many societal problems that have emerged from colonization in both places, the people have certainly gotten good at avoiding or ignoring these issues.

This can certainly become problematic as this sort of mindset perpetuates the dilemmas of inequality and poverty that these regions have. When people talk about other regions as the “undeveloped,” this sometimes acts a way of invalidating their place with the other parts of the whole. People look at the absurdly daunting problems of these regions of need, throw up their hands and sentence these areas to an eternity of backwardness.

One may think I’m being exaggeratory in my comparison to Mississippi’s areas of need to those of Bolivia. However, in actuality, the overwhelmingly non-white cities of Bolivia struggle similarly with systematic inequalities of healthcare, education, and standard of living as those rural counties of Mississippi. Seeing this familiar dynamic play out in Bolivia, a place so different but with so many similarities, adds a new level of my understanding of society’s role in issues like healthcare. Keeping this in my during my research and even just back home in Mississippi, I will be looking for the next time that people try to discount a whole region of need from an entity.


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