Reader Response #5 Gary Musisko

* Professor: Some of my earlier posts are sort of embedded in the title section.

Perhaps it’s my current exhausted state, or maybe it’s the weather or something like that, but the Kalichman article is only absurd. Only. Freire and hooks illuminated some aspects of institutions that are deliberately destructive to our students, economy, and culture. Institutions can achieve a kind of demonic sentience when the formula is just right, and the AIDS machine is not immune. Denying the connection between HIV and AIDS seems foolhardy to even laypersons like me, but the criteria for necromancy have been met; which is to say humans and money and time in their awful synergy. The Ockham’s razor explanation to all this is that people are insane, which they are. Kalichman can be outraged or sad, but this situation may call for the bar guy answer. The bar guy answer is shorthand for Ockham’s razor, so it can be called “short-shorthand.” It is the hasty, reckless simplification of something a drunken toad will never, and can never understand. If people, even in light of all the information available in our age, are choosing to abandon their treatment regimens and subsequently die, it is because they should. The bar guy invokes “Darwin,” and the conversation is “over.”

hooks should have said something like this: “Human life is but a footnote to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.” The Jonestown mass-suicide is jarring and horrible, even now, but such a nadir is effective and necessary when viewed through the lens of composition.

Gary Musisko


Reader Response #6 Gary Musisko

In “The Banking Concept of Education,” Paolo Freire examines the traditional educational structure, and proposes fundamental changes in the way teacher-student relationships are considered.

Freire’s focus is the narrative character of the classroom, where the instructor is the subject and the students are objects. The author asserts that this event–classical Western schooling–is really about the teacher, and the students are to memorize the spoken words of the teacher. It is in this way Freire compares students to receptacles which are to be filled to differing degrees by the instructor, according to his or her talent.

In this “banking” style of education, the students’ involvement in the process of education is limited to a passive role, one which Freire considers to be dehumanizing. The old form, Freire posits, is more suited for the meek and uncreative. The author identifies an overt dualism in the classroom, where the teacher is knowledgeable and the student knows nothing, to name but one among an extensive list.

I respect Freire’s potent mind, but it seems unfair to so barbarically attack the system that produced the Hadron Collider and “On the Origin of Species.” But, things change through such activism; you know, “out with the old.” Also, Freire’s article is couched in some pretty revolutionary language, so he probably knows what he is talking about. Whatever he is prescribing for the future is probably fair, so I am comforted.

The article invokes the pendulum everyone talks about, however. Power is finite, or I think it is, anyway. And I really think Paolo Freire is talking about power, here. One way to view such sweeping systemic changes is that people, heretofore subjugated, can gain (long) deserved power. That is tough to condemn, unless you are the human being who happens to hold the power today. Are those who hold power covetous and exploitive by nature, or is theirs the de facto role played by “them?” Should people who have, from the Darwinian perspective, “earned” their power be expected to willfully give it away to those who feel they deserve it by virtue of sentience alone? And what happens when the new people get the power? Do they give themselves so much credit that they believe they will break the cycle of human nature?

Freire’s message is clear where group work is concerned in this course because we have to get things done, and dictation is inefficient at best, and impossible without a viable threat to make to our compatriots. Futuristic, synergistic thinking is good for this project, so thank you, Mr. Freire. Is Paolo a man’s name? I think it is. Thank you, Freire!

Gary Musisko

Go-To Baby is the working group of Gary Musisko and Djebar Kacini. “Go-To Baby” is an organization dedicated to empowering young women with HIV/AIDS so they may lead normal lives. “The Go-To Baby Book” is the name of the pamphlet a young woman on campus who has HIV/AIDS may consult in order to directly contact support entities. The name is arguably clandestine, but necessarily so in order to minimize stigmatization.

The public health issues Go-To Baby addresses are two-fold: To reduce perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to reduce transmission rates among sexually active people in Allegheny County. The CDC in 2005 reported that an estimated 92% of AIDS cases in children under age 13 were attributed to mother-to-child transmission. Practices such as routine HIV screenings, use of antiretroviral drugs for treatment, cesarean deliveries, and avoiding breast feeding have been successful. These forms of intervention have reduced perinatal HIV transmissions to 2% from 25-30% (Center for Disease Control, 2005).These forms of intervention require resources, from money to education, and all things in between.

Our group’s focus is on young women of lower socioeconomic status in Allegheny County. Lack of socioeconomic resources is linked to riskier sexual practices; such as having sex younger and not using condoms (APA, 2014). Housing is part of the issue, as “individuals who are homeless or in unstable housing arrangements are significantly more likely to be infected with HIV” (Cullhane, Gollub, Kuhn & Shapner, 2011). Research also shows that “up to 45% of people living with HIV are unemployed” (Rabkin et al., 2004). A distinct correlation between low socioeconomic status and HIV has been consistently represented in scientific studies, as well.

Our group seeks to provide channels to upward mobility for poor young women. Go-To Baby provides direct contacts to local support organizations so that young women may stay out of desperate situations. Our brochure provides contacts at the Allegheny County welfare office, which the young women can use to secure a reliable food source. The brochure provides simple links to free credit counseling and monitoring for women to build credit and financial wherewithal. Young women who pick up a copy of the Go-To Baby book can find information on subsidized bus passes to maximize independence and adequately enable employment. Legal issues or jail can put a stop to a person’s progress, so the pamphlet includes links to the Office of the Public Defender.

Mental health issues are numerically prevalent among young people with HIV, so Go-To Baby provides local contacts like Mon Yough Community Services so the young woman with HIV can have invaluable access to a psychiatrist at no cost. Mental health issues can make it harder for the young woman with HIV to take all her HIV medication on time, and impair her ability to cope with the stresses of normal life (, 2012). We also provide details of the Pfizer Helpful Answers program, through which a qualifying woman can get free psychiatric medication for a full year at a time.

The research says education is essential in reducing transmission of HIV, so we provide in the Go-Too Baby book direction on how to receive Pell grants, as well as options for child care. The internal goal is to have all the vetted contact information to these resources in one place. Our group researches the resources and finds the least bureaucratic means possible to help the woman get on track, instead of providing generic numbers into an abyss.

Our mission is not to persuade, nor is it to educate the public through our literature. Instead, our goal is to provide a modest means to stay out of poverty and desperation. In doing so, we seek to reduce the transmission of HIV as a by-product of helping young women in Allegheny County enrich their own lives.