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Comments on Raynard Kington: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health in the US: Patterns, Causes, Trends

Grinnell College Scholars' Convocation, held 2 September 2010.

When I first showed up to the Herrick Chapel I was shocked to see so many people showed up. However, after Raynard Kington’s speech i wasn’t surprised. You could tell he was prepared, well-organized, and really cared about what he was talking about. I couldn’t see most of his graphs and charts because of a pillar, but the ones I did see were very informational and helpful for explaining his points. Hopefully the rest of the speakers this year are as good as Mr. Kington.- AF

Dr. Kington’s speech was much better than I anticipated. I will admit that I had no interest to attend the convocation at first. But, Dr. Kington managed to make it enjoyable. Not only did he present facts unknown to me about racial disparity, he was also able to incorporate some jokes. Some of the content I did not understand though. That was not because of the manner in which he spoke; he explained everything that people most likely didn’t know the meaning of. My misunderstanding was somewhat due to where I sat. A pillar obstructed a portion of the view of the visual aids and completely blocked my view of Dr. Kington. So, I had to go off what I heard. At some points I found myself drifting into other thoughts and then I got lost as to what he was talking about. Overall, the speech was eye opening and I will plan on attending many more convocations during my time here at Grinnell. - AC

I found Dr. Kington an adequate speaker. However it was very difficult to concentrate because I had to stand in the doorway of the chapel and if you were unaware, when people walk up and down the stairs to the balcony it is very loud. I found it very interesting that African American men had the highest possibility to get prostate cancer than any other race even black men from Africa. Another statistic I found odd was that completely uneducated white women’s infants have a higher mortality rate than those of a college education African American women. But this statistic could also not hold much value because white people in general have far higher mortality rates then African Americans. All in all I found Dr. Kington’s speech enjoyable even with the obnoxiously creeky stairs. Maybe next time they should hold the convocation in a larger building so there is room for everyone. - JC

The scholars’ convocation with Dr. Kington was definitely amusing, even though I was standing up the whole time. His speech pick pointed all of the main parts of the RACE exhibit which was also fun and interactive. We saw mostly statistic on how being one or another race have some sort of benefits, but that at the end we are all the same with different characteristics and personality. It was also surprising to see how race also can contribute to having cancer and die quicker and faster than other people. The statistic of how minorities will be the majority in the near future was shocking to know, because we always assume that White would always be the majority in the U.S. I also like how Dr. Kington was able to blend comedy to his whole speech, so that we could reawaken. The last couple of chart about education where king of hard to read, because it had three color section in three column. Over all it was an excellent first speech, looking forward for the rest of them. - ME

I found Dr. Raynard’s presentation compelling. He brought to our attention facts about society that we are either oblivious about or choose to ignore. We live in a country that stresses how it supposedly treats every person equally, but does it really? Are minorities still trying to reconstruct their lives after centuries of oppression? It was eye-opening to see how worse off minorities are in America, especially African Americans. For example, one chart explained that education has an effect on infant mortality rates. It was baffling to see that the most educated African Americans had the same infant mortality rate as the least educated Caucasians. Another interesting question brought about is, if minorities are soon to be the majority, are the now-majorities going to fall in line with the now-minorities, or are the minorities’ problems simply going to get worse as their population rises? Dr. Raynard presented this information with a lot of statistics, graphs, and charts. At times it took extra concentration to interpret the information, but the numbers made the biggest impression. - MC

I walked into Herrick Chapel expecting a boring, statistically loaded speech on different races and their healthcare in America. But somewhere in the back of my head I knew there was more to expect from Dr. Raynard Kington, deputy director of the National Institute of Health. And unmistakably, Dr. Kington (RayK/RSK/The Boss) presented a compelling argument. Yes, I could have guessed that race plays a role in healthcare and that Blacks/Hispanics probably get the raw end of the deal but Dr. Kington's presentation was much more than that. His attention to detail and the extremely wide range of factors that he includes astounded me. Factors like Education, Age and Immigrant/Non-Immigrant status all play a crucial role in determining the healthcare you will receive (yes, it almost sounds like an algorithm). I was also quietly comforted and surprised to hear that Asians fare way better than every other race in the 'Healthcare Race' in America. But all in all, Kington's eloquence, wit and humor made for an interesting and enriching hour about the situation of healthcare in America. - SD

President Raynard S. Kington spoke at the first scholar's convocation of this semester. He spoke about health differences among people from different races.I was sitting on the second floor, next to a girl who was fast asleep, listening to president Kington read out statistics on how the number of Indians and Chinese in America will soon overtake the number of Whites, at which point the girl next to me stirred. I must admit though, that I did nod off from time to time as well. President Kington had a unique style, I have not see too many people presenting with such ease. He was quite humorous with his witty anecdotes. At the end of the convocation I promised myself I will drink a cup of coffee before attending the next convocation. - SA

I actually didn't enjoy Dr. Kington's presentation. Perhaps it was the proximity to lunch time; perhaps it was being unable to see him or his slides without kneeling uncomfortably or blocking someone else's view. But after about fifteen minutes of enjoying an avalanche of interesting sociological trivia, I started to get a little tired of "This racial group is more at risk of X." Reading the other opinions already posted, I must have tuned out by the time the interesting conclusions were drawn. Blame it on a short attention span. - PD

As I stepped into the Herrick Chapel and immediately felt the power of the crowd wash over me, I realized that not only had I expected less than half the number of people who showed up to be present, I also greatly underestimated the unity that Grinnell College strives for. I expected to sit through the convocation bored. Maybe a little drowsy. But I walked away from the seminar feeling invigorated and a little more educated on the issue of race and health. I learned little tidbits that were extremely intriguing – such as the “Healthy Migrant” theory, and how as foreign races assimilate to the American culture, they had the tendency to deteriorate in health, and all of this helped me realize the importance of a liberal arts education. How else would I be able to understand the complexity of a single topic that, at face value, only affects a country, but really impact a whole lot more? - CT

I arrived at Herrick Chapel a few minutes before the convocation started, and almost failed to find a seat. I got the impression that this was truly an important moment for most Grinnellians. The Lecture itself was very informational and the president made the presentation more enjoyable. I caught myself nodding off, thanks my inability to keep a steady sleep. I found that in some areas, the lecture was very information intensive, and I got lost. However, the president was very clear in his speech and explained quite a bit of the charts that were on the board. Overall, had I managed more time to sleep before attending the convocation, I would have found it much more enjoyable. —RC

I entered Herrick chapel and tried to find people from our tutorial, but I couldn't see anyone. I sat down in an aisle pew, but found my view obstructed by a pillar. Then I went up to the balcony area, which I found to be almost entirely filled. There was enough room, however, for me to sit somewhat awkwardly on the steps. When I leaned the wrong way I would accidentally hit the legs of the person sitting behind me, and I had to crane my neck to actually see the slides. My feet also fell asleep as soon as I sat down, which was an added distraction. I tried writing some notes for my roommate, who couldn't make it (because things are scheduled during convocation), but I couldn't even write down summaries of the content of Dr. Kington's points fast enough to take notes for long. I thought his lecture itself was fascinating, especially when he discussed areas that are not well understood in the field, including the so-called "Hispanic Paradox" and the relationship between infant mortality and socioeconomic status. One thing I left wondering about is how relevant the socio- portion of socioeconomic was. Most of the times he used the word, it was apparently only with reference to economic factors. I'm sure it's important to take social factors into account, but I didn't think he discussed that aspect very much. ~MH

The following is what I got out of the comments located directly above: Although we all know and love Herrick Chapel with all of our hearts, it sometimes creates some obstacles to get over if you want to actually hear what is happening during a speech. Those strategically, but poorly, placed columns sometimes just plain get in the way. I am not too surprised that the chapel was full, for it was the first "real" speech RayK gave in Grinnell as new president. (You could count the NSO speech, but welcoming speeches are hardly original.) Speaking of originality, I will move into the content section of this post. From what I have read and heard about the convocation, Dr. Kington gave a speech about health care and race, and how they relate statistically. Again, the surprise factor still isn't there, but this is a good thing. I am glad he spoke about something in which he is well-versed. This makes it much more meaningful and worthwhile. I am disappointed I could not attend this convocation, because hearing the president of the BEST COLLEGE IN THE WORLD speak would always be an honor. Also, I don't know much about the statistics of how well racial minorities receive health care, something that is probably very important about which to inform the nation. --BB
Topic revision: r14 - 2010-09-16, SamuelARebelsky

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