Doctor’s Notes Against Intolerance (2016)
It has been my experience in the Western employment and school system that people must not only vouch for their illnesses but their identities as well. On sick days, a student is required to have documentation or a doctor’s note that justifies their absence and their illness. I have found that certain mental illnesses are dealt with arbitrarily, if not denied altogether when it comes to obtaining a doctor’s note. With mental illnesses a patient must present copies of their prescriptions and notes from ‘credible’ doctor’s that vouch for their experiences—as if the patient’s own verbal disclosure of manic depression or post traumatic stress disorder are not valid enough. Society places an intimidating amount of power in medical figures by giving them the ability to disregard illnesses because the patient displays only a fraction of its symptoms. Similarly, I have found that in conversations about colonialism or imperialism—when I feel the need to address my own personal experiences and identity— I must have a reason to do so – as if my experiences aren’t credible on their own. “Why are you bringing up race? It’s not about that.” “Why are we talking about feminism? Not all men…” In many ways, I and other identities need a doctor’s note to dismantle racism, micro-aggressions and other forms of oppression. Suddenly my experiences are not valid if they aren’t in conversation with the writing of Audrey Lorde, Edward Said, etc.
The following works are inspired by a conversation I had with Quentin VerCetty regarding a friend of his who used a doctor’s note to allow him to address issues regarding race in class. By name-dropping credible and scholarly figures and forging the status of a medical degree, these doctor’s notes pack enough credibility to allow the student/employee to explore race, sexuality, feminism and reject oppression and intolerance without explanation. These works are presented as multiples.
Read the transcript of my interview here: Political Candy: leaf jerlefia
Madeleine Co. x CBC Arts presents This Art Works!