Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits. Advertising on television and in popular magazines like People and Good Housekeeping has cast common childhood forgetfulness and poor grades as grounds for medication that, among other benefits, can result in “schoolwork that matches his intelligence” and ease family tension.
A student and I wrote about a concept we call “everyday colonialism” a few days ago over on Aljazeera. We cannot take credit for the term entirely. It’s an adaptation from Philomena Essed’s concept of everyday racism, which encompasses the subtle but highly significant forms of normalized racism perpetrated – often times unconsciously – by majority group members against ethnic minorities on a regular basis.
The power of everyday racism lies in its repetitiveness. No one incident typically carries tremendous power. It’s the fact that everyday racism happens over and over; it wears and tears on minorities in a variety of ways that have harmful psychological and sociological consequences.
Other scholars have termed acts of everyday racism, microaggressions. Derald Sue and colleagues have conceptualized microaggressions by breaking them up into three categories: microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. Although their work is in psychology, I find it incredibly related to sociology.
Another quick footnote, Paige Raibmon actually used the term everyday colonialism in a 2006 piece, but our approach is much more in line with Essed’s and Sue’s work.
We use the term everyday colonialism to describe the incessant ways that indigenous people are discriminated against regularly by majority group members, in particular those whose ancestry is tied to colonial powers. This is not to trivialize the seriousness of colonialism from yester-year, but rather to demonstrate how neocolonialism continues to operate today more stealthly on an everyday basis.
In Aotearoa (New Zealand), Maori are indigenous; they are tangata whenua (people of the land). Pacific people have a strong presence across Aotearoa, especially in Auckland, and have indigenous ties to neighboring countries, such as Tonga, Samoa, Niue, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Tokelau. The nation-state of New Zealand has legal/colonial ties to Niue, Tokelau, the Cook Islands and Samoa.
Thus while Maori are tangata whenua, Maori and Pacific people can share a politicized pan-indigenous identity in the sense that they share similar experiences of colonization and racialization, both historically and in present time in this region of the world. Below is a particularly powerful example of everyday colonialism – a Pakeha (New Zealand European) bus driver is alleged to drive past visibly Maori pedestrians who are trying to catch the bus. A Maori passenger calls the bus driver out on his actions, making key historical and contemporary references. Watch/listen to the whole thing.
At 3:40, the passenger says, “We welcomed you here, and you deny everything for us. You broke the relationship between The Treaty (The Treaty of Waitangi, or more importantly Te Tiriti o Waitangi), and the Maori and the Pakeha!” It’s an incredibly powerful illustration of everyday colonialism and its connections to historical power imbalances.
Yesterday in Aotearoa/New Zealand it was Waitangi Day, which commemorates unification between the indigenous Māori inhabitants and the British settler population. For the nation-state of New Zealand, every 6 February is heralded as a day of celebration for all “Kiwis,” or New Zealanders, to express their collective patriotism. Well, that’s one version of it.
It was on 6 February 1840 when Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed by 46 rangatira (Māori chieftains), and in the six months following, approximately 450 more. Te Tiriti was authored by the British and written in te reo Māori. Māori in contemporary society who believe in decolonization efforts (along with non-Māori allies) argue that Te Tiriti “cemented [Māori’s] overriding authority, while granting permission to the Crown to regulate the conduct of British nationals” (Mikaere, 2011, p. 129).
This historical document was also written in British English, and in this version, The Treaty of Waitangi mandated that the Māori population cede their sovereignty to the British Crown in return for protected property rights. Thus for the British, The Treaty of Waitangi has served as the central legal document that legitimized citizenship and continues claim to the land.
For Māori, The Treaty represents the beginning of British colonial, legal imposition into Aotearoa that was furthered substantially in the 1860s through legal maneuvering that privatized land ownership – a familiar colonial tactic employed across the Pacific.
With a national holiday celebrating The Treaty – a legal document that includes indigenous peoples – it may appear that in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the indigenous people have it comparatively good. But consider that prior to British arrival, the Māori population stood at somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000; by about 1900, their population dropped to 42,000. And today, Māori share the same types of social disparities as other indigenous peoples worldwide.
It is because of these historical concerns and ongoing disparities that not all Māori celebrate Waitangi Day. In fact, the national holiday has a history of Māori protest, which with all things considered, should hardly be surprising. Shouldn’t a place’s indigenous people have the right to protest on their own homeland?
And this brings me to this blog entry’s subject.
Yesterday’s front page of The New Zealand Herald (the country’s most prominent newspaper) made special effort to highlight a piece on Waitangi Day “protest free” with a white fist driven up.
The paper’s headline story, “Celebrating NZ’s day: Waitangi: What it means to you” strategically profiles an ethnically diverse group of individuals, some of whom speak to historical injustices and today’s social inequalities. Some excerpts from the story:
The important thing [regarding Waitangi] is probably the continued acknowledgement of the Treaty. And, along with it, the acknowledgement by Pakeha of all injustices committed against Maori, while their ancestors blatantly ignored the Treaty. Especially since the roots of the alarming inequality in the country today go all the way back to what we like to call colonisation; I don’t see how it could be any more relevant.
The Treaty of Waitangi was breached as bro and heaps of Kiwis don’t know that. I can’t believe the Government thought they could get away with the confiscation of land, the banning of te reo AND the pepper-potting – please look it up. I’ve met too many Kiwis that think we should just forget about it and that Maori should move on, and it’s exhausting explaining why that’s a really stink way to think…
A continued dialogue around the Treaty will always be important. The birth of contemporary NZ started under colonial rule that brought with it all the (problems) of colonisation. Continued conversation, debate and dialogue keep questions of power and exploitation alive, relevant and evolving and hopefully make us as a community more aware of the respect that is owed every human being and the land we inhabit.
Many Kiwis think we need to move on, but for me there is still so much work to do around the Treaty and race relations that it’s way too early to start celebrating. I want NZ to be a country that is world-renowned for its equality. Where it is a priority, not just a soundbite or media tag, but written into our constitution so any and all governments can be held to this one core value: equality.
Still, because The Herald has framed these interviewees’ contributions within a dominant “protest-free” discourse and included the excerpts within a story that “celebrates” Waitangi Day, any radical critique of The Treaty is negated. Critique can only come through moderated reflections of “moving on” in reconciliatory ways that don’t attack the status quo, that don’t address land rights, that don’t address substantive changes in mainstream culture.
And this is how mainstream, neocolonial media makes itself appear progressive while actually supporting the state to minimize indigenous/human rights.
Like other sectors of society, sport serves as a site where constructions of race are developed and contested on a regular basis. Many would like to believe that these racialized patterns are restricted to the competitive arena. But the reality is, throughout history, sport has always responded to broader race politics, while simultaneously firing back at the racialized patterns seen off the field.
We see it less now than in decades past. Gone are the Muhammad Ali’s, Jackie Robinson’s, John Carlos’s, and Tommie Smith’s, who through their athletic prime stood consciously as symbols for African American communities prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement. Before them, even the less politically spirited Jesse Owens functioned as a key figure in in the push for racial equality.
Today’s celebrity athletes are more constricted by corporate-driven politics and a less active push for social justice. Now in the twenty-first century, much of society likes to feel we have reached a place where perceptions of race and behavioral racism no longer matter, or only emerge among fringe, extremist groups outside the mainstream.
Public response to talented black men
But as we saw nearly two weeks ago just after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers to advance to the NFL’s Super Bowl, racism continues to interact with sport very systemically, though now, in less obvious form. In that contest’s final play, Seattle cornerback, Richard Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco wide-receiver Michael Crabtree, with whom Sherman had developed a mild rivalry. Both Sherman and Crabtree are African American.
Sherman’s athletic feat preserved Seattle’s win, leading to an on-field post-game interview in which an animated Sherman asserted his status as the League’s top cornerback, while verbally deriding Crabtree, and doing so while staring angrily into the camera.
No doubt Sherman provided a feisty and different kind of interview, but considering some of the outrageous, often times discriminatory things athletes and sports managers have said very publicly over the years, Sherman’s words and method of expressing them were perhaps atypical, definitely emotional, but hardly threatening.
Still, the interview generated extensive media attention, and a significant backlash from individuals through social media where Sherman was repeatedly labeled in deleterious ways. It is here where we see how racism has shifted in contemporary society and where we can reflect upon Sherman’s experience as an athlete beyond sport.
Again, the bulk of American sports fans, and Americans in general, like to think that racism is no longer a significant social problem. Moreover, most members of society like to present themselves as supportive of a color-blind, postracial culture that no longer needs to consider race in in everyday interactions, let alone in public policy.
Unfortunately a significant portion of society is still resistant to talented, confident, intelligent, outspoken, and as Kevin Beckford and Greg Howard say, multidimensional black men. In turn those societal members who harbor racist attitudes must find ways to express their discriminatory thoughts in a manner that protects them from being called a racist.
Coded Racism in Contemporary Society
Enter the label, or code word, “thug.” Code words are words that at their base have nothing to do with perceptions of race, but within a particular social context hold strong racial undertones and reify racist stereotypes.
In describing African Americans, code words that too often enter the lexicon of mainstream media include, “inner city,” “welfare queen,” and especially for males, “thug.” It is hardly surprising then, that the day after Seattle’s victory and Sherman’s rant, “people said thug on TV more often than on any other day in the past three years,” and that Sherman was an overt target across social media, repeatedly called a thug, along with overt racial slurs.
This is a far too common way that racism operates in contemporary society – hidden within seemingly objective vernacular that in reality carries distinct racial bias. A highly intellectual individual who graduated from Stanford University and is pursuing a postgraduate degree, Sherman asserts, thug “is the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays.” More from Sherman:
“The backlash surprised me, because I think the support came after the backlash. I was a little surprised, because we’re talking about football here. A lot of people took it further than football. And I guess some people showed how far we’ve really come in this day and age. And it was kind of profound, what happened. Because I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected, maybe it was immature, maybe things could have been worded better. But this was on a football field — I wasn’t committing any crimes or doing anything illegal; I was showing passion after a football game.” [emphasis added]
Sherman is spot on in his analysis. To this end, the way that Sherman has been attacked is not a phenomenon unique to the sporting world or the United States.
In Auckland, New Zealand where I work, many of the Maori and Pacific students with whom I conduct research have referred to this kind of discrimination as “soft,” “indirect,” and “civilized” racism, noting that racist peers refrain from using explicit racial epithets to demean them.
Instead racism is enacted – among other ways – by negating Maori and Pacific hard work and talent, and relegating their academic achievements to preferential treatment. Hence, the racialized insults cast upon ethnic minority students are coded within a kind of discourse that protects the racist perpetrator.
In other words, code words enable majority group members to call Maori students, “dumb Maori’s,” and perpetuate racism without actually using those inflammatory words.
Worldwide, ethnic minorities are keenly aware of the code words and nuanced ways that everyday racism keeps us pushed to the periphery. It should not take the unfair treatment of a celebrity athlete of color to uncover the cloaked nature of contemporary racism.
Asian American scholars stopped writing about the model minority myth decades ago, not because those of Asian ancestry in Western contexts have had to stop dealing with it, but because it is an exhaustive topic in the academy. There’s just not much left to say about it. But trust me, we still have to deal with it, and it still affects us in highly damaging ways. Trust me…
Note: This is nothing more than artistic experession that simply conveys experience at times through hyperbole. Photo via here.
If you do not subscribe to the US Census Bureau updates, you are missing out on a lot of great information. Yesterday, the update was about poverty, how to measure it, and the latest data on the subject. So, if you teach poverty (and don’t we all), the following are some pretty interesting and discussion-starting visualizations.
First off, of course, we are all familiar with the official poverty line and its shortcomings. So, the USCB uses a supplemental measure designed to overcome these shortcomings. The differences between the two measures are summarized in this nifty infographic (click on all the images for a larger view):
How many people are poor and how long do they stay that way? According to the Census Bureau summary:
“31.6 percent of Americans were in poverty for at least two months from 2009 to 2011, a 4.5 percentage point increase over the prerecession period of 2005 to 2007. Poverty was a temporary state for most people; however, 3.5 percent of Americans were in poverty for the entire three-year period.”
Visually, things look like this (pdf version here):
These data and visualizations are related to a new report on poverty from the Census Bureau. The basic concepts it uses are as follows:
So, using these different measures, here are some of the results.
First off, the overall picture:
No big surprise here. Poverty rates were higher after the recession than before. Note that the use of a three-year panel overestimates episodic poverty compared to calendar year measures, and underestimates chronic poverty compared to calendar year measures. It’s pretty obvious why (people in poverty for more than 2 months but less than three years).
Now, let’s look at chronic and episodic poverty with various demographics:
No surprise here either: blacks and female-householder families lead the pack on chronic poverty,followed by Hispanics and under 18. On the other hand, whites, seniors, and married-couple families have lower rates of chronic poverty. These trends are the same for episodic poverty, but with higher rates.
More specific data show the same trend as well:
Now looking more specifically at poverty entry rates:
The same categories of people as above entered poverty in higher than the overall rate between 2009 and 2011.
Now, poverty exit rates:
Again, this time, one would look at rate below the overall rate to determined which categories of people have a harder time escaping poverty, basically, any rate below 35.4. The pattern we identified above persists.
How long does poverty last? How long is a poverty spell?
This lopsided trend is interesting. Either a spell is short or it is long, but the middle durations show lower percentages. But the vast majority of spells are a year or less.
Looking at median poverty spells:
Here, the only surprise is the rate for 65 and over. Remember, that category had a lower poverty rate but for those who are poor, then, the median spells are longer than the overall median.
This is confirmed by the data on poverty persistence between 2009 and 2011:
This is all pretty interesting stuff. You can read the full report, if you are so inclined.
I should note though, that poverty spells may be short, but insecurity and precarity are not and take a toll.
Take a look at this great visualization of life expectancy around the world. You’ll need to do a lot of zooming in and out, but it’s worth it. And it’s a visually appealing way of presenting it. I like the organization by continent and by color. Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom for the time series.
Good visualizations on this and related topics can also be found using the Human Development Report visualization tool:
The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult A.D.H.D., which could become even more profitable.
A 2002 ad for Adderall showed a mother playing with her son and saying, “Thanks for taking out the garbage.”
Talk about passive-aggressive marketing. But there are even worse, more insidious “Joe Camel” kinds of advertising that Big Pharma is engaging in.
Companies even try to speak to youngsters directly. Shire — the longtime market leader, with several A.D.H.D. medications including Adderall — recently subsidized 50,000 copies of a comic book that tries to demystify the disorder and uses superheroes to tell children, “Medicines may make it easier to pay attention and control your behavior!”
Comic book superheroes? Adderall Man? Leaps tall buildings in a single bound (while acing his SAT’s and reading “War and Peace”)? If that isn’t a Joe Camel issue, I don’t know what is…big business selling drug addiction. And it’s very successful.
Profits for the A.D.H.D. drug industry have soared. Sales of stimulant medication in 2012 were nearly $9 billion, more than five times the $1.7 billion a decade before, according to the data company IMS Health.
Now targeting adults, Shire and two patient advocacy groups have recruited celebrities like the Maroon 5 musician Adam Levine for their marketing campaign, “It’s Your A.D.H.D. – Own It.” Online quizzes sponsored by drug companies are designed to encourage people to pursue treatment.
One of my favorite methods of ADHD diagnosis is the online quiz. Because theoretically, if you had ADHD, would you be able to complete the quiz?
Adults searching for information on A.D.H.D. encounter websites with short quizzes that can encourage normal people to think they might have it. Many such tests are sponsored by drug companies in ways hidden or easily missed.
“Could you have A.D.H.D.?” beckons one quiz, sponsored by Shire, on the website everydayhealth.com. Six questions ask how often someone has trouble in matters like “getting things in order,” “remembering appointments” or “getting started” on projects.
A user who splits answers evenly between “rarely” and “sometimes” receives the result “A.D.H.D. Possible.” Five answers of “sometimes” and one “often” tell the user, “A.D.H.D. May Be Likely.”
Isn’t that great…you don’t even have to complete the quiz for us to diagnose you. And you have Big Pharma spokesmen like Adam Levine, who himself is walking ADD trip wire (meaning when I see or hear him sing, my own ADD kicks in and I reach for the remote…own it!) and Ty Pennington (another reason to change the channel) making it all cool to be f’d up. Or something.
A medical education video sponsored by Shire portrays a physician making a diagnosis of the disorder in an adult in a six-minute conversation, after which the doctor recommends medication.
Like most psychiatric conditions, A.D.H.D. has no definitive test, and most experts in the field agree that its symptoms are open to interpretation by patients, parents and doctors. The American Psychiatric Association, which receives significant financing from drug companies, has gradually loosened the official criteria for the disorder to include common childhood behavior like “makes careless mistakes” or “often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.”
Which is, like, every single child or adolescent under the age of 18. All of them. And they should be because their pre-frontal cortex’s are still under construction during childhood and adolescence. You can view impulse control as being a normal developmental stage, or an “illness” that requires the synapses to be zapped with medication.
Also, as I’ve written about for years on this blog, the symptomology has become so broad and extensive (net-widening in other areas of corrections) that virtually any child or adult with a pulse could now be suffering from ADHD (or any other virtual psychosomatic condition). Look at the creation of Adderall itself.
Modern marketing of stimulants began with the name Adderall itself. Mr. Griggs bought a small pharmaceutical company that produced a weight-loss pill named Obetrol. Suspecting that it might treat a relatively unappreciated condition then called attention deficit disorder, and found in about 3 to 5 percent of children, he took “A.D.D.” and fiddled with snappy suffixes. He cast a word with the widest net.
A.D.D. for All.
“It was meant to be kind of an inclusive thing,” Mr. Griggs recalled.
[sound of crickets chirping]
And then they enlisted their army of pushers in lab coats to take these drugs for all to the streets.
Adderall quickly established itself as a competitor of the field’s most popular drug, Ritalin. Shire, realizing the drug’s potential, bought Mr. Griggs’s company for $186 million and spent millions more to market the pill to doctors. After all, patients can buy only what their physicians buy into.
As is typical among pharmaceutical companies, Shire gathered hundreds of doctors at meetings at which a physician paid by the company explained a new drug’s value.
For which the psychiatrists receive ongoing kickbacks for every dispensation.
Many of the scientific studies cited by drug company speakers involved Dr. Joseph Biederman, a prominent child psychiatrist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2008, a Senate investigation revealed that Dr. Biederman’s research on many psychiatric conditions had been substantially financed by drug companies, including Shire. Those companies also paid him $1.6 million in speaking and consulting fees. He has denied that the payments influenced his research.
Of course. And then there are the Big Pharma-funded advocacy groups (again, long written about on this blog) like CHADD whose job it is to ensnare anxious parents into the web of dismay.
The primary A.D.H.D. patient advocacy group, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or Chadd, was founded in 1987 to gain greater respect for the condition and its treatment with Ritalin, the primary drug available at the time. Start-up funding was provided by Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals, Ritalin’s primary manufacturer. Further drug company support helped create public service announcements and pamphlets, some of which tried to dispel concerns about Ritalin; one Chadd “fact sheet” conflicted with 60 years of science in claiming, “Psychostimulant drugs are not addictive.”
A 1995 documentary on PBS detailed how Chadd did not disclose its relationship with drug companies to either the Drug Enforcement Administration, which it was then lobbying to ease government regulation of stimulants, or the Department of Education, with which it collaborated on an A.D.H.D. educational video.
A.D.H.D. patient advocates often say that many parents resist having their child evaluated because of the stigma of mental illness and the perceived risks of medication. To combat this, groups have published lists of “Famous People With A.D.H.D.” to reassure parents of the good company their children could join with a diagnosis. One, in circulation since the mid-1990s and now posted on the psychcentral.com information portal beside two ads for Strattera, includes Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Galileo and Socrates.
LOL. Not only do we over-diagnose this condition today, we can magically go back and retroactively diagnose historical figures who “had trouble completing projects” like the Civil War, or discovering several planets in outer space.
Anyway, last point, and where it ties back to sociology and learning theory for me.
Because studies have shown that A.D.H.D. can run in families, drug companies use the children’s market to grow the adult one. A pamphlet published in 2008 by Janssen, Concerta’s manufacturer — headlined “Like Parent, Like Child?” — claimed that “A.D.H.D. is a highly heritable disorder” despite studies showing that the vast majority of parents of A.D.H.D. children do not qualify for a diagnosis themselves.
A current Shire manual for therapists illustrates the genetic issue with a family tree: three grandparents with the disorder, all six of their children with it, and seven of eight grandchildren, too.
Lost on these dopes is the idea that symptoms such as those associated with ADHD might in fact be simple learned behavior. Like alcoholism or suicide and family history…it’s not in the genes, it’s in the environment, the learned behavior.
Regardless, go and read this article. It’s as if Alan Schwarz the NYT reporter read my blog cover to cover as he pursued his writing, because these are issues I have been howling about for over a decade in the classroom and on this blog since 2007.
The control that Big Pharma and the psychiatric-industrial complex exercise over society is astonishing in both its breadth and scope. And it’s not a “conspiracy theory” to suggest that social control, capitalism and corporatism win out over the army of robots being created on a daily basis via these insidious diagnoses.
Cross Posted from The Power Elite
Yup, Nutella, the goo of unholy mixing of chocolate + nuts. At least, that is what an OECD trade policy paper highlights in a report on global value chains (GVC).
What is a global value chain?
“A value chain identifies the full range of activities that firms undertake to bring a product or a service from its conception to its end use by final consumers. Technological progress, cost, access to resources and markets and trade policy reforms have facilitated the geographical fragmentation of production processes across the globe according to the comparative advantage of the locations. This international fragmentation of production is a powerful source of increased efficiency and firm competitiveness. Today, more than half of world manufactured imports are intermediate goods (primary goods, parts and components, and semi-finished products), and more than 70% of world services imports are intermediate services.” (5)
How does Nutella fit into this?
“About 250 000 tons of Nutella are produced each year. Nutella® is representative of agrifood value chains. The food processing company Ferrero International SA headquartered in Italy and has nine factories producing Nutella®: five are located in Europe, one in Russia, one in North America, two in South America and one in Australia. Some inputs are locally supplied, for example the packaging or some of the ingredients, like skimmed milk. There are however ingredients that are globally supplied: hazelnuts come from Turkey, palm oil from Malaysia, cocoa from Nigeria, sugar from Brazil (but also from Europe) and the vanilla flavour from France. Nutella is then sold in 75 countries through sales offices.” (17)
This illustrated visually in the map below, also from the policy paper:
“The location of production is close to final markets where Nutella® is in high demand Europe, North America, South America and Oceania). There is no factory in Asia so far because the product is less popular (another Ferrero delicacy, the “rocher” is however more popular in Asia and manufactured in India). In agri-food business value chains, there are more developing and emerging economies involved, as can be seen with countries in Latin America and Africa in the case of Nutella®.” (18)
Actually, the main reason why Africa is even involved is because of the need for cocoa. This seems to fit the competitive advantage of that has been so popular in institutions of global governance — countries focusing on what they are really good at, their niche on the world market rather than import-substitution, which was more popular with newly independent regimes after decolonization.
Of course, such destructuring of production chains was made possible by development in technologies of transportation and containerization as well. Then, cultural globalization fosters the development of a taste for this.
This cool animated GIF (below the fold because it’s on a loop and that gets annoying fast) from the French daily Libération shows the number of women to have been designated “Person of the Year” (formerly “Man of the Year”) by Time Magazine.