Showing posts with label COVID-19 Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19 Related. Show all posts

3 August 2021

French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]

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French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]
French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message
DJ Alexis Petronio has collaborated with guitarist and singer Keith to release his debut single, "Strange," a guitar-tinged summer anthem with a human hopeful post-pandemic message.
Alexis was inspired to write and produce the new track as COVID restrictions ease and people reconnect with each other. "The pandemic was tragic in many ways," says Alexis, "but it reminded us how important feelings of freedom and connection with other people really are."
The Singer and guitarist Keith, who features on the song, agrees: "Both Alexis and I believe that every cloud has a silver lining. 'Strange' is about embracing the opportunity for rebirth and becoming aware of the significance of our connection with people and nature in an increasingly digital new world."
French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]
DJ Alexis Petronio and Keith
"Strange" features blues, soul, and Andalusian influences with the help of Keith's vocal and guitar, backed by Callaghan's saxophone and set against the irresistibly festive electropop production from Alexis.

"Strange" - The Music Video:

Alexis Petronio is an independent DJ and a member of the "The French Production" collective from Porto Vecchio in Corsica. He has played every summer for the last 10 years at Via Notte and at B52 with the world's biggest DJs, including David Guetta, Solomun, DJ Snake, Roger Sanchez, and Little Louie Vega. His winter appearances include Paris, Abidjan, and Tulum.
French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]
Beach Music

Connect with Alexis Petronio:

SOURCE: La French Production

14 May 2021

The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest [Trailer Included]

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The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest [Trailer Included]
The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest (Screengrab)
The Race Epidemic documentary is a significant film of our time as innocent Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are being attacked and murdered on America's streets. The documentary tells the story of AAPIs and their unique history in the broader context of racism in America. Racism is America's epidemic – it has plagued the American nation since its inception. It attacks different groups more intensely at different times, but it always persists.
  • The Race Epidemic features interviews with CA Attorney General Rob Bonta, Congressmember Judy Chu (CA-27), Speaker of the CA Legislature Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember David Chiu (AD-17), Assemblymember Evan Low (AD-28), Thomas Saenz, Esq. of Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and other scholars and elected leaders. (Full cast list here).
CA Attorney General Rob Bonta says in the film: "A lot of people see the anti-immigrant rhetoric in action from the Federal Administration as a Latino issue, it is not simply a Latino issue, it is a human issue for sure but also very much an Asian issue. Our community is under attack with this anti-immigrant rhetoric."
Ultimately, the film seeks to heal America through understanding, compassion, and knowledge. "A deep understanding of each other's history and struggles is fundamental to us coming together as a nation. Unfortunately, in times of economic uncertainty and fear race has been used to divide us. This film can help people understand we are all in this together, and when one of us is attacked we all suffer," said Ronald Wong, writer and producer of the documentary.
The documentary's release comes amid widespread reports of discrimination and violence against AAPIs during the coronavirus outbreak, 32% of Asian adults say they have feared someone might threaten or physically attack them – a greater share than other racial or ethnic groups. The vast majority of Asian adults (81%) also say violence against them is increasing, far surpassing the share of all U.S. adults (56%) who say the same, according to a new Pew Research Center survey released just this week.

The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest [Trailer Included]
The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest (Screengrab)
The time is right for this film and its important message. In selecting The Race Documentary for inclusion in CAAMFest the selection committee said: "It's an incredibly relevant film due to the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes. It was nice to see you connect the historical legacy of hate with what's happening now. We think your film would be perfect for our festival."
While recent attacks on AAPIs have tragically risen, this is not a new story, as it has played out throughout America's history. The Chinese Exclusion Act was preceded by riots in both San Francisco and Los Angeles Chinatowns where Chinese laborers were murdered and millions of dollars in property were destroyed because of the perceived threats and public health dangers the Chinese community posed.
However, this film is much more than just documenting history; it is also meant to stir emotions and actions. "I learned about the perceptions of Asian Americans through film. When I was growing up in Southern California, I was routinely ridiculed and bullied based on negative perceptions of AAPIs on the big screen. Negative stereotypes and demeaning portrayals of us has real effects on our community and the psyche of AAPIs," said Tony Shyu, director and writer of The Race Epidemic.
  • The documentary is being produced under the auspices of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation (APALF), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. APALF's mission is to engage the AAPI community in active civic participation by creating, supporting, building and strengthening the local community infrastructure to help prepare and train qualified AAPI leaders for public service. The documentary will be used as part of an overall curriculum to help respond to bias, discrimination, and violence against AAPIs.
The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest [Trailer Included]
The Race Epidemic is about another outbreak caused by COVID-19: An epidemic of hate based on race against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs)

The Trailer:

Production Team:

Ronald W. Wong, Producer & Writer - Founder of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation and President of Imprenta Communications Group, an award-wining public affairs, ethnic marketing, and advertising firm. Ron serves as producer & writer and oversees the production and management of the documentary.

Ron has been involved in politics and political campaigns for the past 30 years. He has won nearly 100 awards for his creative work including the production of commercials, public service announcements (PSAs), and traditional and digital advertising, including recognition from the California State Legislature Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, among many others.

A master storyteller, Ron is a recognized expert in politics, communications, and advertising targeting diverse communities. He served as a political appointee in President Clinton's Administration at the U.S Department of Justice Community Relations Service, where he worked on hate crime policies, racial reconciliation, the President's Initiative on Race, and developed the "One America Dialogue Guide."

The Race Epidemic is the culmination of Ron's work in politics, social justice, and the political empowerment of diverse underrepresented communities for the last 35 years. Ron has been involved and committed to the civic and political engagement and empowerment of AAPIs for nearly four decades.
Tony Shyu, Director & Writer - is a noted director and award-winning screenwriter. Tony serves as director & producer of The Race Epidemic. Tony spent many years in Asia creating award-winning commercials for major brands such as Avon, Volvo, and Visa. He won the Taiwan Times award, which is Asia's equivalent of a Clio award. The PSA he directed for API Vote starring George Takei, John Cho, and Constance Wu won the 2016 Videographer award.

Tony is also currently in production on an all-Asian American cast show for Bravo TV and in development for an all-Asian cast TV show for Netflix. His award-winning screenplay Macau Omen, has been translated into a novel and now is being developed into a feature film. His short film, Macau Twilight (2008) was an official selection at the BFI London Film Festival. Tony also wrote, directed, and produced a feature film, Tequila Body Shots (1999), which was distributed by Lionsgate.

Tony received his B.A. and M.F.A. in film from the renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, which is known for creating visual story tellers. His classmates at Art Center included famed award-winning directors Michael Bay, Zack Snyder, and Tarsem Singh among many others.
Johnnie Giles is an Executive Producer and previously served as Executive Director of External Affairs for Comcast Corporation and Vice President of External Affairs for Comcast Cable, in this role he was the principal interface between Comcast and the national AAPI community organizations and working with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. He has been active within the AAPI community for nearly three decades. He previously served on the executive board of the Center for Asian American Media, and was a founding member of Asian Americans for Good Government PAC, which supports AAPI candidates for elected office. Johnnie also was the founding board chairman for the California Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce, and he has also served on the boards of a number of organizations serving the AAPI community including AAJC, APIAVote, APALC, APAPA, JACL, ACE, OCA, and APAICS C4.
John & Sarah Kobara serve as Executive Producers. John is a social entrepreneur who has been advancing social change and the issues of the AAPI communities through a variety of positions of influence. He has been leading workshops for Asian American leaders for 30 years. John and Sarah have raised three young Asian-American leaders who are all pursuing for-purpose careers. John and Sarah have devoted their lives to sustaining the dream of their immigrant ancestors by helping others build a more joyful, equitable, just, and compassionate world. They actively support the Japanese American National Museum, Center for Asian Americans for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), the US Japan Council, MLK Community Hospital Foundation, Coro and Defy Ventures.

The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest [Trailer Included]
The Race Epidemic Documentary Featuring Rob Bonta, John Chiang, Judy Chu Premieres At CAAMFest (Screengrab)

About APALF:

The Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation was founded in 2004 as a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization designed to help prepare and better equip Asian Pacific American (APA) leaders for public service and civic involvement.

About CAAMFest:

CAAMFest celebrates the world's largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian film, food, and music programs.

About CAAM:

For over 40 years, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) has been dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. As a nonprofit organization, CAAM funds, produces, distributes, and exhibits works in film, television, and digital media. 

SOURCE: Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation

10 March 2021

After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond

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After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond
After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond (image from shutterstock.com)

One year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the first caused by a coronavirus.

As we enter year two of the pandemic, let’s remind ourselves of some sobering statistics. So far, there have been more than 117.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world; more than 2.6 million people have died. A total of 221 countries and territories have been affected. Some 12 of the 14 countries and territories reporting no cases are small Pacific or Atlantic islands.

Whether the race to end the pandemic will be a sprint or a marathon remains to be seen, as does the extent of the gap between rich and poor contestants. However, as vaccines roll out across the world, it seems we are collectively just out of the starting blocks.

Here are the challenges we face over the next 12 months if we are to ever begin to reduce COVID-19 to a sporadic or endemic disease.

Vaccines are like walking on the Moon

Developing safe and effective vaccines in such a short time frame was a mission as ambitious, and with as many potential pitfalls, as walking on the Moon.

Miraculously, 12 months since a pandemic was declared, eight vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been approved by at least one country. A ninth, Novavax, is very promising. So far, more than 312 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

While most high-income countries will have vaccinated their populations by early 2022, 85 poor countries will have to wait until 2023.

This implies the world won’t be back to normal travel, trade and supply chains until 2024 unless rich countries take actions — such as waiving vaccine patents, diversifying production of vaccines and supporting vaccine delivery — to help poor countries catch up.

The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic and severe COVID-19. However, we need to continue to study the vaccines after being rolled out (conducting so-called post-implementation studies) in 2021 and beyond. This is to determine how long protection lasts, whether we need booster doses, how well vaccines work in children and the impact of vaccines on viral transmission.

What should make us feel optimistic is that in countries that rolled out the vaccines early, such as the UK and Israel, there are signs the rate of new infections is in decline.

What are the potential barriers to overcome?

One of the most salutary lessons we have learnt in the pandemic’s first year is how dangerous it is to let COVID-19 transmission go unchecked. The result is the emergence of more transmissible variants that escape our immune responses, high rates of excess mortality and a stalled economy.

Until we achieve high levels of population immunity via vaccination, in 2021 we must maintain individual and societal measures, such as masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene; improve indoor ventilation; and strengthen outbreak responses — testing, contact tracing and isolation.

After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond
In 2021, we still need to wear masks, physically distance, clean our hands, and improve indoor ventilation. (image from shutterstock.com)

However, there are already signs of complacency and much misinformation to counter, especially for vaccine uptake. So we must continue to address both these barriers.

The outcomes of even momentary complacency are evident as global numbers of new cases once again increase after a steady two month decline. This recent uptick reflects surges in many European countries, such as Italy, and Latin American countries like Brazil and Cuba. New infections in Papua New Guinea have also risen alarmingly in the past few weeks.

Some fundamental questions also remain unanswered. We don’t know how long either natural or vaccine-induced immunity will last. However, encouraging news from the US reveals 92-98% of COVID-19 survivors had adequate immune protection six to eight months after infection. In 2021, we will continue to learn more about how long natural and vaccine-induced immunity lasts.

New variants may be the greatest threat

The longer the coronavirus circulates widely, the higher the risk of more variants of concern emerging. We are aware of B.1.1.7 (the variant first detected in the UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil).

But other variants have been identified. These include B.1.427, which is now the dominant, more infectious, strain in California and one identified recently in New York, named B.1.526.

Variants may transmit more readily than the original Wuhan strain of the virus and may lead to more cases. Some variants may also be resistant to vaccines, as has already been demonstrated with the B.1.351 strain. We will continue to learn more about the impact of variants on disease and vaccines in 2021 and beyond.

A year from now

Given so many unknowns, how the world will be in March 2022 would be an educated guess. However, what is increasingly clear is there will be no “mission accomplished” moment. We are at a crossroads with two end games.

In the most likely scenario, rich countries will return to their new normal. Businesses and schools will reopen and internal travel will resume. Travel corridors will be established between countries with low transmission and high vaccine coverage. This might be between Singapore and Taiwan, between Australia and Vietnam, and maybe between all four, and more countries.

In low- and middle-income countries, there may be a reduction in severe cases, freeing them to rehabilitate health services that have suffered in the past 12 months. These include maternal, newborn, and child health services, including reproductive health; tuberculosis, HIV and malaria programs; and nutrition. However, reviving these services will need rich countries to commit generous and sustained aid.

The second scenario, which sadly is unlikely to occur, is unprecedented global cooperation with a focus on science and solidarity to halt transmission everywhere.

This is a fragile moment in modern world history. But, in record time, we have developed effective tools to eventually control this pandemic. The path to a post-COVID-19 future can perhaps now be characterised as a hurdle race but one that presents severe handicaps to the world’s poorest nations. As an international community, we have the capacity to make it a level playing field.

About Today's Contributor:

Michael Toole, Professor of International Health, Burnet Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

2 March 2021

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business

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As the adage goes, 'necessity is the mother of invention,' and with the peculiar issues with the ongoing Covid-19, more and more people are becoming innovative. Some people have even become entrepreneurs overnight, finding solutions to new problems that have arisen—and making profits from their solutions. However, the question is, can such startups be transformed into viable businesses? How will government affairs impact your business? The future may be favorable, but how can these budding entrepreneurs sustain their businesses. Here are some vital things to seriously consider if you want to make your business viable.

Innovate and adapt

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
Experts in the business industry will confirm that although consumers buy your products, it is the solution that you offer that they really care about. So the first thing to do here is to determine if your product is solving a long-term problem. The best solutions are direct responses to pressing, particular and significant problems. The ability to provide solutions in this Covid-19 times makes this assertion even truer.

For example, there was a need for many quality face masks and other PPE at the beginning of the pandemic, and many organizations and individuals rose to the occasion. Indeed, factories that were shut down were reopened to meet this need. However, will the problem exist in the next five years? You will have to answer this question to make sure your business doesn’t become redundant after a few years.

Building on existing trends

Some startups that started during the pandemic have leveraged existing trends that have been intensified and hastened due to the current prevailing conditions. Areas such as wellness, food supplements, DIY, social media, contactless deliveries, and others have seen exponential growth because they are things people want. Such businesses are not doing anything new but are doing them in new ways. Indeed, keeping a customer loyal means adapting to their needs as they evolve.

Do your research

To really understand the solutions you provide, you need to take a look into the past. Consumer behavior and patterns during such times have to be critically analyzed. Market trends from the past years should provide you with useful insight that should inform your business strategy for the future. If your solution is short-term, how long can you remain relevant? Put yourself in the consumers' minds and try to predict their needs. Then use the prevailing market conditions to guide you when coming up with solutions for their future needs. If your solution is a long-term one, you have to keep improving the solution, delivery, and customer satisfaction.

Identify the long-term market

The next major step to consider is to identify the long-term market. This refers to the group of people who will continue patronizing your solutions after things have returned to normal. According to CB Insights research, the most common reason startups failed was because of a lack of market. Not identifying your long-term market is not good for business. So please get to know your customers, understand their needs for your solutions. What is the potential market size? What is the actual market size? What can be done to increase the market size? Where are your customers found online and geographically? These are pertinent questions that need to be addressed.

Focus on the customer

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
Always focus on the customer; the product or solution will not buy itself. Once you can figure out what the customer wants, you can always offer them a solution. To accomplish this, you should consider reading and researching the user-centered design. It will teach you how to stay in business for a long time by placing the customer above your solutions or products.

Be proactive

One of the hallmarks of successful businesses is the ability to pivot. Pivoting means tweaking your products or solutions to serve a bigger market. So, you should have enough information from your market trends and consumer patterns to know if you will need to pivot soon or much later. A lot of fortune 500 companies had to pivot at one point in time or the other. A strategic pivot could put you way ahead of the competition, who are slow to adapt. This can either make you a trendsetter or secure a sizeable amount of the market share, setting you up quite nicely financially.

Refine and define your business model

During these unpredictable times, a lot of solutions are being created for the goodwill of mankind. And as a solutions provider, you should really consider refining your business model when necessary. This will allow you to play an active role in making peoples' lives easier, better, and safer. This may set you up to even be eligible for some contributions. Indeed, running a business at full-throttle during Covid-19 may be unrealistic without some form of aid.

Consider social entrepreneurship

To make the most out of this situation, switch to a social entrepreneurship business model. Be a positive highlight in society, make a social impact and still make profits. There are several ways to do this. For example, you could donate a percentage of your profits to a recognized NGO helping fight against Covid-19. Or you could decrease prices or add more packages at no extra cost.

Mapping your business

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
To securely map your business, look to the past and note how other great economic disruptions led businesses of the time to redefine their operating models without going under. The stock market crash in 1987 and the global recession of 2007 to 2009 are a few to look at. Mark Johnson, Clayton Christensen, and Henning Kagermann present a useful framework to reinvent your business model.
The current economic climate indeed validates the maxim that crisis breeds innovation and opportunity. There are many businesses out there that started because of Covid-19; the fact is a lot will go on to fold up. But unless you don’t plan on keeping the business long term, try not to become part of that statistic. The trick is to focus on the customer's needs and fashion your solutions to meet them. Also, remain relevant by identifying your market and pivot where necessary.

11 February 2021

Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort

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Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort (PRNewsfoto/Hip Hop Public Health)
Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH) the national nonprofit organization dedicated since 2004 to fostering positive health behavior change through the power of science and hip hop music, today launched Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology about Vaccines. A suite of free resources aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccine coverage in communities of color by fighting fear with facts, this animated rap anthology deconstructs vaccine literacy in a series of five animated videos, beginning with What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work?. Featuring the voice of Grammy-winning rapper and HHPH Advisory Board member Darryl DMC McDaniels of Run-DMC, with award-winning producer Artie Green and singer-songwriter Gerry Gunn, Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology About Vaccines is the latest COVID-19 public information campaign from Hip Hop Public Health. The organization's trilogy of high-impact music video PSAs – 20 Seconds or More, 20 Segundos o Más and Behind the Mask – have been viewed and shared by millions, and become a part of the vernacular around the coronavirus with universal messages of love and safety since launching at the height of the pandemic in New York City in spring 2020.

What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work? - The Video:


Each 60-second video in the Community Immunity anthology features a common underlying hip hop track with a unique rap verse that incorporates vaccine literacy content and a universal hook about the benefits of community immunity, which is repeated and sung in each video. The goal of the series is not only to inform, but also to turn receiving the vaccine into a social norm. 

  • Each video in the series will be launched over the next several weeks through March 2021, beginning with What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work? (launching 2/11), followed by Are Vaccines Safe and How Do I Know This? (launching 2/18); What are the Common Vaccine Myths, Misperceptions? (launching 2/25); What Can I Expect if I Take the Vaccine? (launching 3/4); and, Getting a Vaccine is Better than Getting Infected with COVID-19 (launching 3/11).
"COVID-19 is the most urgent global challenge we face today, and if we can encourage 80% of the population to get vaccinated, we can achieve the community-wide immunity we need for social activities to return to normal" says Dr. Olajide Williams, Founder of Hip Hop Public Health, tenured Professor of Neurology at Columbia University, and Chief of Staff of the Department of Neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. "As the coronavirus continues to ravage communities of color, the long-standing distrust that many feel towards medical science has proven to be an even greater challenge. Our goal with the Community Immunity anthology is therefore to increase vaccine literacy by demonstrating three critical points of fact: one, the vaccine is safe; two, no scientific shortcuts were taken in the development of the vaccine; and three, being vaccinated is an act of community service."
"While we must work to fill knowledge gaps, we also recognize that knowledge alone does not motivate behavior change. To meet the challenge of COVID-19, we need to truly connect, culturally and emotionally," adds Dr. Williams. "This is why HHPH developed the Multisensory Multilevel Health Education Model, which leverages the power of culture and art to motivate people to live healthier lives."
"Hip Hop Public Health is committed to providing accessible, culturally relevant resources, free of charge to empower underserved communities about critical health issues ," says Lori Rose Benson, Executive Director and CEO of Hip Hop Public Health. "With recent studies showing that more than half of African American adults are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it is essential that we create and widely disperse messages to dispel myths and reduce anxiety around the vaccine with the goal of creating Community Immunity as the ultimate act of love – love of self, love of family and love of the community – to inspire and drive action."
A recent national study (Szilgayi et al, JAMA December 2020) revealed that the self-reported likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine declined from 75% in April 2020 to 56% in December 2020, despite extensive media coverage beginning in November showing high efficacy for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The lowest likelihood of vaccination was found among Black individuals and those with lower educational backgrounds, two groups that bear the highest burden of illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The APM Research Lab has found that Covid-19 has killed 1 out of every 645 Black Americans, and according to the journal PLOS Medicine, Black people, ages 35 to 44, have been dying at nine times the rate of white people the same age.
"These findings make HHPH's novel approach to vaccine hesitancy a critical item on the menu of initiatives designed to increase vaccine coverage," Dr. Williams concludes.
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort

Plans to roll-out Community Immunity include a series of community mobilization events in partnership with the State of New York's Vaccine Equity Taskforce, HeartSmilesMD, The New York City Department of Education's Office of School Wellness Programs, and others. 

The videos will also be widely distributed across multiple social media channels in collaboration with local faith-based organizations, community media outlets and national and local radio platforms. In addition, Community Immunity will be part of a larger program used in company settings as a tool to educate essential workforces and answer pointed questions about the vaccine. In partnership with 40 West Advisors, HHPH's innovative and customized tools will allow direct access to the answers employees need to make informed decisions about the vaccine. Finally, the public is invited to engage directly with Dr. Williams and Dr. Monique Hedmann-Maxey, HHPH Advisory Board member who also appears in the videos, through #AskTheHipHopDocs. This interactive social media initiative is designed to answer questions and help dispel misperceptions when tagged in real-time. 
"Communities of color carry the heaviest burden from the pandemic, and in order to stop the virus in its tracks, we need to increase vaccine literacy, change behavior and get vaccinated," says Darryl DMC McDaniels. "By harnessing the power of hip hop, we hope to connect with communities of color in a way they can relate to and encourage folks to get vaccinated. I am honored to lend my voice to this vital campaign – get the shot y'all!"
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort (screengrab)

The five videos in the Community Immunity series are focused on the following topics:

  • What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work? Highlights the power of vaccines, which have all but eliminated diseases that once sickened, crippled or killed millions of people every year, including smallpox and polio. The two current COVID-19 vaccines are more than 90% effective at protecting the recipient (9 of 10 people won't get sick if they get both doses of the vaccine).
  • Are Vaccines Safe and How Do I Know This? Despite the speed of vaccine development (which has prompted many to question whether a vaccine for COVID-19 is safe and effective), very strict science, regulations, and transparency was enforced during vaccine development and data safety monitoring. Even after a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, the FDA, CDC, healthcare systems and vaccine developers will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for years.
  • What are the Common Vaccine Myths, Misperceptions? Addresses misinformation and how this has affected people's trust, and addresses fears with facts. "This is not just a moment of truth; it is a moment for truth."
  • Getting a Vaccine is Better than Getting Infected with COVID-19 Which puts you at risk of severe infection, protracted illness, and death. This video also emphasizes that one of the most important tools to save Black lives right now is vaccination.
  • What Can I Expect if I Take the Vaccine? Describes transient reactions to vaccination and emphasizes the importance of returning for the second shot (for the two currently approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the United States) for community immunity. Defines herd immunity as community immunity. Getting both shots is not just about me, it is also about us.
"We have been locked in a life or death battle against COVID for nearly a year, and with the vaccine now in hand, we finally have the weapon that will win this war, but it will only be as effective as our willingness to use it," said New York Secretary of State and Co-Chair of New York's Vaccine Equity Task Force Rossana Rosado. "The sad truth about COVID is it hasn't only attacked our health, it's brought to light the structural racism, injustices and inequities that have contributed towards the distrust and skepticism people feel towards the health care system and the vaccine itself, especially in communities of color. The fact is it is safe, it is reliable and if we are truly to get back to normal, we need everyone to have confidence in it – that's why the work Hip Hop Public Health is doing is so important. By finding new and creative ways to instill confidence in the vaccine, they are getting information about the vaccine's efficacy to those who need it in an easily digestible and understandable format. Hip Hop Public Health has been a tremendous partner to New York's Vaccine Equity Task Force from the very beginning and on behalf of Governor Cuomo and all New Yorkers, I thank them for this critically important public service."
The Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology about Vaccines series was produced by Artie Green. The video animation was created by Mylo The Cat and Cartuna. Medical oversight was provided by HHPH Founder, Dr. Olajide Williams, Dr. Melissa Stockwell and HHPH Advisory Board member Dr. Monique Hedmann-Maxey. Philanthropic support for the initiative has been provided by The Skoll Foundation, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Dalio Center for Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian, and Columbia Community Service. 

Related Videos:




About Hip Hop Public Health:

Based in New York City, Hip Hop Public Health was founded in Harlem in 2004 with the mission to empower youth around the country – and the globe— with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, reducing preventable health conditions and the rising tide of childhood obesity.

Through a research-driven developmental process created by Columbia University Neurologist Dr. Olajide Williams (a.k.a. the "Hip Hop Doc"), Hip Hop Public Health works with socially conscious artists and musicians to create scalable, highly engaging, culturally relevant music and multimedia "edutainment" tools designed to improve youth health literacy and promote health equity. HHPH used validated models of behavior change and evidenced-based research to develop original content and are committed to an iterative cycle of program evaluation, academic research and resource refinement. We aim to make the healthy choice the cool choice.

The Hip Hop Public Health team, led by physical education veteran and public health leader Lori Rose Benson, is a collective comprised of not only health and education professionals (including nutritionists, public health researchers, teachers, physicians, behavioral scientists, and a student advisory board), but also proven-successful multi-media professionals and A-list iconic rap stars and pop artists including Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D, DMC of Run DMC, Ashanti, Jordin Sparks, as well children's television writers/producers (formerly of Sesame Street).

HHPH is proud to partner locally, regionally and internationally to empower health focused organizations and stakeholders to adopt and adapt Hip Hop Public Health resources and infuse them into youth health and wellness programming and initiatives. All HHPH music, videos, comic books, video games and guidance documents are available for free and can be accessed on its online resource repository.
SOURCE: Hip Hop Public Health

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27 January 2021

COVID-19 Movie 'Songbird' is a Disaster – We Need Better Pandemic Stories [Trailer Included]

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COVID-19 Movie 'Songbird' is a Disaster – We Need Better Pandemic Stories [Trailer Included]
COVID-19 Movie 'Songbird' is a Disaster – We Need Better Pandemic Stories (Image via STX Films)

If the reality of COVID-19 were not enough, you can now watch Songbird, a new blockbuster movie which pictures the world in 2024 trying to deal with the ravages of COVID-23, a new mutation of the coronavirus. As one reviewer writes, the film combinesa Romeo & Juliet-lite love story with a sub-Contagion thriller”. Hailed as the first feature film about the pandemic, released during the pandemic, Songbird has not received the warm welcome its producers might have hoped for.

COVID-19 Movie 'Songbird' is a Disaster – We Need Better Pandemic Stories [Trailer Included]
'Songbird' (screengrab)
One of the most generous reviews is from The Guardian, which described the film as “a fascinating historical document of how some creatives found their way around the rules during an impossible time for a struggling industry”. In contrast, Canada’s Globe and Mail, cautioned viewers to “physically distance” themselves from Songbird, which it described as “crass and gimmicky”. Other reviewers also saw the film as a “schlocky and opportunistic” production. Viewers, meanwhile, have criticised it as being in bad taste for trying “to bank on the current times and failing just about every step of the way”.

The range of these responses tellingly reveals the complexity of the bigger questions behind the film, namely: what role does culture play when it comes to disasters? This question is not new. Yet the seemingly never-ending current global health crisis gives it a sense of urgency.

Cultural representations of disasters can show ways to make sense of crises. Whether it’s the allegorical painting of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, HBO’s Chernobyl, or Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), a magical realist response to Hurricane Katrina, these cultural representations act as social commentaries. They anticipate political action, shape and express environmental ethics, and – most importantly – they can help us to imagine what a possible future could look like.

Not in the same boat

Films, TV series and books about disasters show, again and again, that there is no one way of experiencing any disaster. Zadie Smith’s recently published Intimations, an essay collection of pandemic reflections, describes this in clear terms: “The misery is very precisely designed, and different for each person.” As the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 clearly demonstrates, we are all not in the same boat. This has been captured by poetry, and confirmed by research.

The pandemic has not struck with the same force nor at the same time. What COVID-19 has revealed is ever-starker socioeconomic divides. The pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on certain demographic and labour groups. It has cut a swath through the most vulnerable populations, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions as well as the key workers who are keeping the cities, hospitals, and schools running. In short, the impact of the pandemic (and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg) is contingent on pre-existing, long-term, and sustained vulnerability.

COVID-19 Movie 'Songbird' is a Disaster – We Need Better Pandemic Stories [Trailer Included]
'Songbird' (screengrab)
In response to the profound suffering and disruption to all aspects of our lives, many yearn for some, even small, return to “normal life”. Yet, it is precisely this “normal” – the reality of fatal inequalities, racial violence, injustice, and disenfranchisement – that is the problem.

No return to the pre-pandemic conditions is possible, nor should it be wished for. Rather, post-pandemic recovery has to work to address and repair these long-term structures of injustice, racism, and political, social and cultural marginalisation. Good artistic works aim to recover these hidden narratives and voices, voices that need to be central to any long-term recovery processes.

Starting slowly

The future starts slowly. How it will look depends on long-term community efforts and – even more so – on policy changes and political decisions. Yet waiting for these might mean waiting too long. In the meantime, artists, neighbourhood groups, mutual aid and solidarity groups forge their way through the crisis, start this slow labour of recovering, already pointing towards what alternative futures, in a small way, might look like.

The future starts with listening to the discordant experiences of those most affected by the impact of the pandemic. For Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, reflecting on writing in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, it soon became clear that “the book that I’m going to write will take years”. Indeed, her novel Chernobyl Prayer took ten years to complete. This “novel of voices”, as she calls it, captures precisely those discordant meanings, ongoing sense of irreparable loss and confusion.

Understanding what the current pandemic means and what its real impact is will also take years. Undoing long-term vulnerabilities will take even longer. Yet this work has to start now and continue day in, day out. For British philosopher Nigel Warburton, Albert Camus’s The Plague (1947) provides inspiration, with its depiction of “ordinary people rising to an occasion and doing extraordinary things”.

Whether an artistically uninspiring, ethically problematic contagion-themed love story where the pandemic is exploited as a jumping-off point can capture the many voices of the pandemic experience, sketch a horizon of post-COVID-19 life, or provide an inspiration for such ordinary work of slow healing and recovery, is highly unlikely. Tellingly, for one viewer of Songbird, in order to enjoy the film, one must “ignore what’s happening” in real life.

While seeking an escape might not in itself be bad, as film scholar Alfio Leotta reminds us: “The kind of escape we seek matters.” It is thanks to the other worlds offered by books, films, that we can gain a better, more critical, but also more courageous, imaginative, view of the present we are in and, not least, of what can the future hold.

About Today's Contributor:

Kasia Mika, Lecturer in Comparative Literature, Queen Mary University of London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

19 January 2021

How Anti-Vax Memes Replicate Through Satire And Irony

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How Anti-Vax Memes Replicate Through Satire And Irony
How Anti-Vax Memes Replicate Through Satire And Irony (image via Don/KnowYourMeme)

For most of us, memes are the harmless fodder of an “extremely online” internet culture, floating benignly between different social media platforms — and, on the whole, making us laugh. But in the shadier corners of the internet, like on the forum 4chan, memes can quickly mutate from jokes into more ambiguous, shocking and potentially harmful viral content.

That’s especially true of memes that call into question the efficacy and safety of vaccines — often termed “anti-vax” content. Anti-vaccination sentiment is not a new phenomenon, but is increasingly fuelled by online misinformation. Unfounded claims proliferate online, linking vaccines to disease development, or presenting COVID-19 as a hoax.

When they go viral, such conspiracy theories present a major obstacle to the success of any immunisation campaign, as they may contribute to vaccine hesitancy. In the UK, more than a quarter of the population signals reluctance or suspicion about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Globally, willingness to be vaccinated varies widely.

To combat the spread of anti-vaccination rumours, platforms are currently using a dual strategy of censorship and fact checking. Both practices have their pitfalls. Censorship may actually stimulate curiosity, while people who distrust mainstream media are not likely to trust fact checkers.

And much online content — like viral memes — is not primarily meant to inform, and is therefore hard to evaluate in terms of whether it’s information, misinformation, or simply a joke.

Imageboard dissidence

Internet memes are a defining feature of online communication. The term can refer to any widely shared and replicated piece of online content in a variety of styles and formats. While mostly humorous or relatable, some memes have come to be associated with hateful beliefs through their occurrence on influential websites such as the imageboard 4chan.

4chan boasts over 20 million unique visitors a month, and is highly influential in meme culture. On 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” board (/pol/), people anonymously discuss world news and political events from perspectives that run counter to the public consensus. Views expressed on /pol/ can be shocking and unpleasant.

Conspiracy theories such as QAnon flourished on /pol/, and the forum has been linked to the recent Capitol riots.

How Anti-Vax Memes Replicate Through Satire And Irony
4chan is an imageboard from which many famous memes have originated (II.studio/Shutterstock)

Presumed malicious intent behind vaccination programmes is a commonly voiced concern on the board. In a recent study, I showed that anti-vaccination posts encountered on /pol/ (and found across social media) display a number of recurring elements, such as revulsion to vaccine ingredients and selective appeals to authority. With vaccine hesitancy becoming an increasingly pressing concern, the role of such memetic patterns in the spread of misinformation deserves careful attention.

Renegade quotes

Anti-vaccination posts regularly contain a visual component. For instance, a reference to authority can be expressed through a vaccine-critical quote next to the face of the person who supposedly uttered it. Surprisingly often, quotes included in anti-vaccination discussions are attributed incorrectly.

Online, incorrect attribution does not just happen by accident. Fake quotes are a very popular meme format, often intended to satirise and amuse. Today’s internet users are likely to encounter the face of historic figures such as Lincoln, Einstein or Gandhi, paired with an absurdly out-of-place statement.

Such memes creatively critique the popular practice of sharing inspirational messages. They also ridicule received sources of wisdom and authority. But as a result, it is often unclear whether anti-vaccination statements voiced through the face-and-quote format are shared and received in earnest, or through an ironic lens.

This image of Bill Gates with a vaccine has been repurposed hundreds of times online. (Jean-Marc Ferré/UN Photo, CC BY-NC-ND)

Accustomed to online irony, a proportion of internet users on 4chan and beyond may not intend their multi-layered jokes to contribute to vaccine hesitancy. The influence of ironic meme culture may also mitigate the impact of misinformation by priming the browsing crowd for absurdity rather than accuracy. However, diverse audiences make for diverse reactions. While quotes supposedly exposing the evil intentions of figures such as Bill Gates – a common target of conspiratorial beliefs – can easily be read in jest, they can also influence internet users to distrust vaccines.

Vaccine revolt

A second common feature of anti-vaccination discourse is revulsion to vaccine ingredients. This sentiment tends to be communicated by means of lists combining chemical and bestial elements. When taken out of context, a compilation of vaccine components — mentioning mercury, formaldehyde, and cow’s blood — can indeed inspire fear and disgust. When presented to shock, the ingredients of any complex product may come to look like an alchemist’s concoction or a sinister witch’s brew.

Feelings of aversion may be exacerbated by the image of a syringe, which in anti-vax posts is often presented together with ingredients deemed harmful. Most children fear needles, and a large proportion of adults do, too. In many contexts, sharp objects are associated with harm, not health.

It is surprising, then, that ironic replications of the syringe-plus-ingredients template circulate online, mocking the anti-vaxxer’s fears and supposed scientific illiteracy. Such memetic efforts may aim to comically combat misinformation, but nonetheless spread visual prompts that reinforce suspicion. From this perspective, you may even wonder whether popular newspapers contribute to vaccine hesitancy by repeatedly using pictures of a needle breaching the skin.

Attitudes to vaccination are communicated not just through what is written, but also through particular representational patterns. Meme formats and visual outlines can spread misinformation, even when created and shared with humorous intent.

After all, “Poe’s Law” dictates that there’s a wafer-thin line between satirical and fanatical content. In the context of COVID-19, that line is all too easily crossed.

About Today's Contributor:

Jan Buts, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Translation Studies, Trinity College Dublin

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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