On Oct. 29 at UCSB’s Pollock Theater, activist Ady Barkan premiered his short video series “Uncovered: Health Care Conversations With Ady Barkan.”
Through a sequence of interviews with current Democratic presidential candidates and their accounts of unaffordable, serious illness, the production brings to light the immense struggles Americans face when dealing with the U.S. healthcare system.
Barkan filmed interviews with candidates Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders. He asked them hard-pressed questions regarding their plan of action in bettering or removing current healthcare policies. The interviews also go on to more personal matters and question the candidates about the loss of family members and their own individual wishes for a legacy.
Ady Barkan himself was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in late 2016 and has firsthand experience with the extensive flaws within the healthcare system and its unaffordability. The loving husband and father is now constrained to an electric wheelchair and computer vocalizing system as his motor skills no longer function. However, he is not held back in his inspiring undaunted cause to reach affordable healthcare for all Americans.
Since his diagnosis, Barkan has gone on to form an independent Political Action Committee (PAC) known as the Be a Hero organization which campaigns for social welfare policies and challenges self interest in politics.
Other filmed interviews presented in the production were conducted with a combination of everyday Americans and nurses who directly witnessed the fallacies within the healthcare system. The unfortunate conclusions of these interviews were either with the death of a patient or the patient being seriously financially indebted to the government.
The screening of the series was accompanied by a Q&A session with Barkan himself, the lead production videographer, and Liz Jaff, the president of the Be a Hero PAC. Questions covered were in relation to the making of the series, the policies surrounding the interviewed candidates, and Ady Barkan’s journey with battling ALS.
Barkan made it a point to clarify that Joe Biden was the only candidate who did not issue a response to the invitation and was not willing to be interviewed by his pressing questions.
The Bottom Line spoke with Liz Jaff after the screening to get a better insight of Ady Barkan’s connection to UCSB.
“He lives in Santa Barbara, loves the school, and his wife is a teacher here.” Barkan’s wife, Rachel King, is an English literature professor at UCSB.
Jaff also shared that Barkan “is very much into student activism” and “would love [students] to be staging sit-ins … doing massive marches.” Jaff also offered some advice regarding student protesting concluded to “cause as much disruption as you can until your school notices.”
The final piece of information Jaff shared regarding student involvement in politics was “make sure you’re registered to vote … if students want to decide who’s going to be the president of the United States, they need to vote in the primary … that is the most important thing they can do.”
“I think that the only way we will get transformative change in this country is if students and young people lead the way forward,” Mr. Barkan expressed through his text-to-speech computer system.