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About the AGlow Project

   Eurocentrism and racism are present in all areas of our lives. Their systemic existence in our society is incredibly detrimental to both individuals and society as a whole. We would expect that an especially dangerous realm for it to exist in is the medical field. In what are often life or death scenarios, whether immediate or eventual, we would hope that everyone received equal opportunity for healthcare and quality of treatment. Yet, racism is present in various ways in healthcare and medicine today. 

   As I focused on racism in healthcare and sought out its more hidden existences, I eventually concentrated my research on genetic testing. Findings included the fact that about eighty percent of the data used for associations between genes and diseases is collected from people of European descent. It is dangerous and unjust that certain groups have access to more abundant and more accurate information about serious health conditions they may be prone to. 

    In an effort to start conversations and play a role in bridging the gap caused by the systemic eurocentrism and racism of our society, this project looks to raise awareness about just one condition. The one this project focuses on has a large impact on people of East Asian descent, which I chose because I am a person of East Asian descent and interested in the safety and progression of my community.

    I decided to focus on Asian Glow (also called Asian Flush and Alcohol Flush Reaction), a condition that is prevalent in over one-third of people of East Asian descent. People with the condition turn red quickly after alcohol consumption. The greater problem arises with the fact that this condition is not simply an aesthetic matter, there are serious health implications like esophageal cancer (one of the deadliest cancers), other cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, and other effects that have been linked to Asian Glow. It may be somewhat well-known that Asians have a tendency to turn red quickly from drinking. Yet some do not know that this is an actual genetically inherited condition, and even fewer may be aware of its dangers. From doing just a basic internet search, several articles and published reports deny the existence of any dangers and claim that the condition is simply a matter of turning red. This is misleading and harmful, and demonstrates the lack of genuine care to look into matters that may be harmful to marginalized groups, specifically racial minorities in this case. It is absolutely necessary to educate all East Asians about this condition, and really people of all racial groups since drinking is a very socially impacted area of people’s lives.

     This awareness-raising project is more focused on teens in the hope of preventing East Asians from drinking before they begin (or at least stopping early). 

Some things I’ve done so far this semester to raise awareness include creating a website that acts as a central designation for all of my information and campaigns, using social media for amplification, and starting a fundraiser for genetic test costs. I mainly focus on spreading awareness on what Asian Glow is so that people are educated on the actual condition, its health implications, racism in the medical field, and racism against Asian Americans. I also provide information on how to find out if a person is prone to the condition, resources for alcohol abuse prevention, and broader information to educate people on racism and racism against Asian Americans in particular. 

    This awareness project brings attention to this condition which few people even in the Asian community are aware of, and even less have knowledge about the health implications. Through this I hope to play a role in starting conversations both in and out of my community and bridging the gap of health disparity on the basis of race which is caused by society’s lack of care for minorities and, ultimately, the systemic eurocentrism and racism in our society.

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