Laurie Toby Edison

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Kuttin Kandi: Hiphop, Heart Disease, Fatphobia, and Truth-Telling

Debbie says:

I’m sorry to say I never heard of Kuttin Kandi (also known as Candice Custodio-Tan) before I read this article, clearly because I’ve been hiding under a rock.

The woman is a force to be reckoned with:

The first woman to reach the DMC USA Finals and a founding member of the all-female Anomolies crew, the Queens-bred Filipina turntablist has shared the stage with legends (Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa), big kids (MC Lyte, LL Cool J) and period contemporaries (Jay-Z, dead prez, Immortal Technique). In addition to beat juggling and competition-judging, she writes revealing poems, lectures regularly, does grassroots organizing and serves as a mentor and educator at the UC San Diego Women’s Center. She’s also spearheading a compilation album, The Womyn’s Hip-Hop Movement, co-writing a book about Filipino-Americans in hip-hop culture, and she proudly represents the 5th Platoon crew, Guerrilla Words and R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop (Representing Education, Activism & Community Through Hip Hop).

In April, she was diagnosed with a heart condition called “atrial fibrillation.” Shortly after she learned that, her heart stopped beating for seven seconds. Her medical professio nals prescribed a pacemaker and an indefinite course of blood thinners.

She’s been telling her story in a Facebook series called “Notes of a Revolutionary Patient.” I don’t read Facebook, so I’m not up with her writing there, but apparently she gets into everything from her hard childhood history to fatphobia in the medical profession. In the Colorlines interview, she’s extremely clear-sighted:

I realized I was receiving biased medical care the moment they didn’t ask me what work I have done and haven’t done to “be healthy.” The moment they told me, “You need to lose weight” without asking my personal health journey, I knew they were judging me. They didn’t look at me as though I was a person; they just looked at my pounds. If weight is the issue, okay fine—let’s discuss the weight [and] what got me here. But i think it’s more than just weight. For any patient, doctors need to know the details. I know that there’s a whole herstory about me. I’ve [suffered] a range of mostly invisible disabilities including depression, bulimia and binge-eating/compulsive disorder. In my 30s I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder, agoraphobia, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, bipolar disorder and severe allergies that require two shots a week for three years. I also have an Auditory Processing Disorder, which I occasionally reframe as a different learning style. Doctors need to take their time explaining things to people; many people have different learning styles.

And, the “true understatement that needs to be stated over and over” award goes to:

the simple fact that the health care industry is not [generally] educated in social justice, power, privilege and oppression is systemic racism.

I want to engrave that on a plaque and hang it in every hospital and doctor’s office in the country. Yeah, sure, I know; no one would let me. But I want to.

Everything else she says in the interview is golden: about histories of sexual violence, about working in male-dominated industries, about life/activism balance.

I’m sorry that her misfortunes brought her to my attention, but I’m so glad to know she’s in the world. And somehow I feel confident that she’s going to stick around and teach us (starting with her doctors!) for quite a while longer. Here’s her fundraising site; I sent some money. If you are in a position to, I hope you’ll consider it.

Thanks to Jan Herzog for the link on a mailing list I read.

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