Author Topic: Medical Apartheid  (Read 4312 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9988
    • View Profile
Medical Apartheid
« on: January 06, 2007, 06:45:15 pm »
First, do no harm (to whites)
Reviewed by Alexander Zaitchik

Sunday, December 31, 2006

 
 Printable Version
Email This Article
 
 
 
 


Medical Apartheid

The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present

By Harriet A. Washington

DOUBLEDAY; 501 Pages; $27.95



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If race is the haunted house of American history, Harriet Washington opens the door on the torture room in "Medical Apartheid," her blood-spattered history of black America's long and frequently nonconsensual relationship with experimental medicine.
This room of horrors, as Washington details, contains skeletons predating the Republic. Indeed, the first African American encounter with Western medicine was the slave-ship quack, who would condemn sick passengers to the sharks. Once in the New World, slaves suffered a Southern medical culture that meant, at best, the application of "9 drops of essence of rawhide" as a cure for most ills. At worst, it meant being strapped to a board while a mad scientist with dirty hands and no anesthesia used cobbler's tools to crack and pry your skull bones into new positions.

Experimental operations on the skulls of slave children, Washington writes, were a favorite pursuit of a particularly sadistic South Carolinian doctor named J. Marion Sims, widely revered today as the "father of gynecology." Once he outgrew his fascination with skull formation, Sims earned fame pioneering a treatment for vesicovaginal fistula, a debilitating internal rupture associated with 19th century childbirth. For years, Sims experimented on a group of slave women, to whom he refused anesthesia, even after its invention in the 1840s. Since Victorian mores forbade looking much under the skirts of white women, most breakthroughs in women's health, including the C-section, were perfected on female slaves, often under the gaze of a gaggle of fascinated and, Washington suggests, perhaps titillated, white doctors.

"Medical Apartheid's" most gruesome antebellum vignette finds Sims restraining a resistant slave named Sam and removing a large part of his jawbone, against his will and sans anesthesia. Such experimental operations were common in the Old South, and Washington convincingly traces black America's lingering iatrophobia (fear of doctors) back to this anguished history.

"By the mid-nineteenth century," she writes, "African Americans had already associated Western medicine with punishment, loss of control over their most intimate bodily functions, and degrading public displays."

Emancipation did not end these associations. The rise of the hospital movement and interest in detailed anatomical study fueled demands for test subjects and cadavers, needs routinely met by luring poor blacks with false promises and raiding black cemeteries.

Washington devotes much illuminating attention to the most notorious post-slavery racial crime of American medicine: the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972. For 40 years, more than 100 black subjects -- members of what the PHS considered a "syphilis-soaked race" -- were denied treatment, even and especially after the discovery of penicillin in 1943. The research required that they suffer and die, the more slowly the better.

But while acknowledging its importance in the popular imagination, Washington is quick to note that Tuskegee was hardly unique. The Rockefeller Institute in New York, for example, conducted a study in 1910 that saw 470 black syphilitics injected with a deadly strain of malaria to test its effectiveness as treatment. Black Americans were also disproportionately used at the dawn of the nuclear era as subjects in government inquiries into the effects of radiation. Within this book's thick catalog of horrors is the story of how the Atomic Energy Commission and the Quaker Oats Co. co-sponsored a secret program in which radioactive oatmeal was fed to orphans in Waltham, Mass.

This is the American century with a Nazi accent. For the 20th century saw the rise of the "Mississippi appendectomy" (involuntary sterilization), a practice born from the eugenics movement sweeping the United States before it became the state ideology of Nazi Germany. In a chapter titled "The Black Stork," Washington examines the dual legacy of feminist pioneer Margaret Sanger, who championed women's right to contraception but was also a committed eugenicist whose Birth Control Review advocated systematically reducing the fertility of black women. In this project Sanger had federal support, Washington writes, and the proliferation of government-sponsored Planned Parenthood clinics deepened suspicions among African Americans that birth control and state clinics constituted a form of state genocide.

Washington's chilling history ends with contemporary case studies. At the Incarnation Children's Center in New York, Columbia University doctors continue to administer experimental AIDS drugs to minority orphans, even after many develop painful and debilitating reactions. As for current clinical trials in Africa, Washington describes the continent as the new "laboratory for the West," where unsuspecting patients regularly receive experimental therapies that might never receive state sanction in the United States or Europe.

Washington only occasionally loses her way, as in a digression into the anthrax scare of 2001 that notes the heavy black presence in Washington, D.C.'s, postal workers But these lapses are few in an otherwise fascinating, chilling and important book.

Alexander Zaitchik is a journalist in Washington, D.C.

Jenn

  • Guest
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2007, 09:02:55 pm »
Washington devotes much illuminating attention to the most notorious post-slavery racial crime of American medicine: the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972. For 40 years, more than 100 black subjects -- members of what the PHS considered a "syphilis-soaked race" -- were denied treatment, even and especially after the discovery of penicillin in 1943.

Whoa, Mr. Zaitchik! More like 400 men were denied treatment. I believe more than half of them were saved when they registered for the draft and were given penicillin then. But they still suffered, and only 74 were alive by the end of the experiment 1972. I'm sure Ms. Washington wouldn't have made such a grievous error; that's lazy, lazy reporting.

Quote
Washington examines the dual legacy of feminist pioneer Margaret Sanger, who championed women's right to contraception but was also a committed eugenicist whose Birth Control Review advocated systematically reducing the fertility of black women. In this project Sanger had federal support, Washington writes, and the proliferation of government-sponsored Planned Parenthood clinics deepened suspicions among African Americans that birth control and state clinics constituted a form of state genocide.

Lord, not this spin doctoring crap again. Her "dual legacy" comes from the nutcase pro-lifers who painted her that way because she was pro-choice. PP started in black neighborhoods because blacks weren't allowed to see the white doctors, which was why many black leaders (including Dr. King and Mr. DuBois) and organizations praised Sanger for all she did. I'm hardly one for defending white folk, but stuff like this is what puts thoughts in our minds against routine preventive medicine.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 12:49:26 am by Dora Milaje »

Offline Open palm

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2980
    • View Profile
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2007, 03:10:06 am »
Who's the African American doctor who created the technique for blood transfusions? He died bleeding to death on the streets, while onlookers did nothing.  :(
Do you prefer a hero who will confirm your deepest fears? Or a hero who will inspire faith in humanity and goodness?

Jenn

  • Guest
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2007, 12:34:50 am »
Dr. Charles Drew died in a hospital, after a transfusion.  Sadly, he was too far gone to be saved (broken neck, crushed chest, etc.).

http://www.skepticism.net/articles/2002/000017.html
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 12:36:32 am by Dora Milaje »

Offline Open palm

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2980
    • View Profile
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2007, 07:15:18 am »
Really? Okay, that's one urban legend that can be disspelled!
Do you prefer a hero who will confirm your deepest fears? Or a hero who will inspire faith in humanity and goodness?

Offline supreme illuminati

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 5931
  • Head Coach Ras, Founder of THE ATACX GYM
    • View Profile
    • A.T.A.C.X. GYM STREET WARRIOR CAPOEIRA
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2007, 11:03:36 am »
Yo,Reginald,this is a dope and very very critically needed article that unveils a truly horrible chapter in Black History with White folks. Has any other race medically experimented on other races for their own scientific advancement and curiosity? The reason I ask this question is because the behaviour is so horrifically repugnant as to be shudder-inducing and fury producing...and in all the histories of all the other groups I have read,I have never ever ever heard of this behavior by any other group.I realize there are evil people in all hues and colors,but I've never seen this particular permutation of horrific malice anywhere else.
Washington devotes much illuminating attention to the most notorious post-slavery racial crime of American medicine: the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972. For 40 years, more than 100 black subjects -- members of what the PHS considered a "syphilis-soaked race" -- were denied treatment, even and especially after the discovery of penicillin in 1943.

Whoa, Mr. Zaitchik! More like 400 men were denied treatment. I believe more than half of them were saved when they registered for the draft and were given penicillin then. But they still suffered, and only 74 were alive by the end of the experiment 1972. I'm sure Ms. Washington wouldn't have made such a grievous error; that's lazy, lazy reporting.

Quote
Washington examines the dual legacy of feminist pioneer Margaret Sanger, who championed women's right to contraception but was also a committed eugenicist whose Birth Control Review advocated systematically reducing the fertility of black women. In this project Sanger had federal support, Washington writes, and the proliferation of government-sponsored Planned Parenthood clinics deepened suspicions among African Americans that birth control and state clinics constituted a form of state genocide.

Lord, not this spin doctoring crap again. Her "dual legacy" comes from the nutcase pro-lifers who painted her that way because she was pro-choice. PP started in black neighborhoods because blacks weren't allowed to see the white doctors, which was why many black leaders (including Dr. King and Mr. DuBois) and organizations praised Sanger for all she did. I'm hardly one for defending white folk, but stuff like this is what puts thoughts in our minds against routine preventive medicine.

Yo,Jenn...I mean Dora Milaje...I didn't know this either.How did you pick this up? And I didn't know that Dr. Drew died after being given a transfusion,as even the research I did about him since I was a child indicated that he was DENIED a transfusion.Good lookin out on exploding that untruth I'd taken in...now I have to tell other people that I was wrong and THIS RIGHT HERE (poitns at Dora Milaje's facts) is how it really went down.
I AM THAT WHICH GODS,DEMONS,IMMORTALS AND ANGELS FEAR.I AM THAT WHICH PERFECTION ITSELF ASPIRES TO BE
BLACK PANTHER FANFIC:
http://archiveofourown.org/works/663070
Sub my YouTube with the world's first and only viral "capoeira" gun disarm technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM5F_qg2oFw

Jenn

  • Guest
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2007, 04:14:58 pm »
I know about Sanger just because I'm fiercely pro-choice, so I know a lot about that particular vein of history. Like I said, I'm hardly an apologist and I never owned a pair of tap-dancing shoes. But folks tend to play dirty pool when it comes to Sanger (but say nothing about people like Che Guevara, who was fiercely racist), and play on the ignorance* of blacks. "Oh! Sanger promoted abortion to kill off black babies! See, that's why I'm pro-life!" UGH.

As for the Drew story, I looked that up when I was a kid just because it SOUNDED like an urban legend. A little too coincidental to be true.

*In this case, I'm using "ignorant" to mean "not knowing" as opposed to "stupid". The history of women's reproductive rights in America isn't exactly something that every child is taught in school or something.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 06:17:42 pm by Dora Milaje »

Offline Cheirel

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 863
    • View Profile
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2007, 09:28:30 pm »
All races to various extents have done pretty horrific things under the guise of the good of medicine. Not everyone was a Charles Drew or Daniel Hale. Many are just quacks. Sadly the same is true today. I did a study a few years back on a new wonder drug, let's just say it didn't pan out to be what it should have been and people started to drop like flies. But it was suppose to be the best heart medicine in vented in years especially for people of color. :-\

Offline supreme illuminati

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 5931
  • Head Coach Ras, Founder of THE ATACX GYM
    • View Profile
    • A.T.A.C.X. GYM STREET WARRIOR CAPOEIRA
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2007, 09:55:36 pm »
All races to various extents have done pretty horrific things under the guise of the good of medicine. Not everyone was a Charles Drew or Daniel Hale. Many are just quacks. Sadly the same is true today. I did a study a few years back on a new wonder drug, let's just say it didn't pan out to be what it should have been and people started to drop like flies. But it was suppose to be the best heart medicine in vented in years especially for people of color. :-\

"...especially for people of color."  Sounds like shades of Tuskegee.Sounds like nobody colored made this to kill off palefaces.However,we can point to a concerted pogrom to do the opposite.Now,have we ever done such a thing to anybody in our history? Has anybody else...anybody other than Europeans...done this type of thing to non-Europeans? That's my question.
I AM THAT WHICH GODS,DEMONS,IMMORTALS AND ANGELS FEAR.I AM THAT WHICH PERFECTION ITSELF ASPIRES TO BE
BLACK PANTHER FANFIC:
http://archiveofourown.org/works/663070
Sub my YouTube with the world's first and only viral "capoeira" gun disarm technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM5F_qg2oFw

Offline Cheirel

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 863
    • View Profile
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2007, 06:28:09 pm »
All races to various extents have done pretty horrific things under the guise of the good of medicine. Not everyone was a Charles Drew or Daniel Hale. Many are just quacks. Sadly the same is true today. I did a study a few years back on a new wonder drug, let's just say it didn't pan out to be what it should have been and people started to drop like flies. But it was suppose to be the best heart medicine in vented in years especially for people of color. :-\

"...especially for people of color."  Sounds like shades of Tuskegee.Sounds like nobody colored made this to kill off palefaces.However,we can point to a concerted pogrom to do the opposite.Now,have we ever done such a thing to anybody in our history? Has anybody else...anybody other than Europeans...done this type of thing to non-Europeans? That's my question.

Few places have the means ($$$) to do the testing that is required.

Jenn

  • Guest
Re: Medical Apartheid
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2007, 09:41:46 pm »
Goddamn, a modern day genocide. GRRRRR.