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3MT: Prejudice Kills

Context: The Three Minute Thesis is a public speaking competition I had intended to participate in this year. For reasons that will become obvious, I cannot participate. However, here’s my 3MT speech. — Nalini Haynes

Prejudice kills.

Nazi Germany developed efficient means of terminating ‘lesser humans’ during which trials hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities died then those same techniques of murder and body disposal were ripped out of institutions for people with disabilities to be repurposed in concentration camps murdering millions of Jews, Poles and other people.

Prejudice kills. But not just that kind of prejudice.

Israel, Palestine and the West Bank have been in a kind of war or civil war for decades, shooting missiles at one another, gunning down civilians and knifing one an other face to face.

Prejudice kills. But not just that kind of prejudice.

Terrorists flew airplanes into twin towers on 9/11 murdering thousands of people and leading to ill health and PTSD in survivors and first attenders.

Prejudice kills. But not just that kind of prejudice.

Suicide bombers. Maniacs behind the wheels of cars. And, in the United States, people with guns. People who are so afraid of other people that they carry guns — that their toddlers then grab hold of and shoot their mothers.

Prejudice kills. But not just that kind of prejudice.

A woman visited doctors, complaining about pain. Doctors said ‘Your uterus has slipped a bit’ or ‘It’s your gall bladder’. She had bowel cancer that spread to her liver before diagnosis. This is how prejudice killed my mother-in-law when she was 45 years old.

For years I’ve told doctors that I only sleep 3 to 6 hours a night because of discomfort and pain and I have other symptoms. Doctors see a woman with a disability, a woman able to see who uses a blind cane. They assume that I’m a liar or a wimp. In March my GP said ‘you have a virus’. In June I asked for a referral for an ultrasound.

My GP said ‘Don’t worry about it.’

I said, ‘I have a cyst’.

She said, ‘It’s only 4 millimetres, don’t worry about it, it’s normal’.

I said, ‘It’s 4 centimetres’.

She said, ‘So it is. Don’t worry about it’.

After I changed GPs and had that ultrasound I discovered that my VIRUS is 10 centimetres by 7 centimetres by 3 centimetres. I’m scheduled for surgery.

Prejudice kills.

My thesis is exploring the present-day root of some prejudice. Stories about albinos tell us about prejudice while reinforcing current prejudices. For example, many believe that Silas from the Da Vinci Code can be a Nazi, can have albinism and be a sharp shooter. Media and politicians say that people with disabilities are liars, scroungers and hypochondriacs. Many believe that having albinism makes someone evil.

My thesis is examining representations to show what storytellers believe and how they’re building prejudice.

My research can then be used to lobby for better representation, to lobby for equity, to lobby for decent medical care. My research could lead to someone else being diagnosed before their illness is so advanced.

PS There are doctors in Canberra who are my heroes. Dr Samarakoon, Dr Adams and the staff at Calvary Hospital in Canberra are my heroes and, if it’s not too late, they may be my saviours.



Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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