Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Harriet A. Washington
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner (Nonfiction)
PEN/Oakland Award Winner
BCALA Nonfiction Award Winner
Gustavus Meyers Award Winner
From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.
Medical Apartheid is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.
The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read Medical Apartheid, a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.
Alamos, New Mexico. Between 1960 and 1972, University of Cincinnati radiologist Eugene L. Saenger, M.D., directed experimental high-dose TBI on a total of 200 cancer patients, of whom 150 were black.33 The TBI method was dangerous, utilizing magnavolt X rays, cobalt-60, or cesium-137 to administer the equivalent of fifteen thousand chest X rays to the entire body. Patients typically received from one hundred to four hundred rads. A rad is a unit of absorbed radiation with a complex definition:
DOE, and managed by South Carolina’s Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC), this high-tech manufacturing facility once produced tritium and plutonium-239 for nuclear weapons. Now that the Cold War has abated, it processes nuclear waste. Approximately 2,800 of the SRS’s 14,000 employees are black, and by 2002, they had filed at least twenty-two lawsuits. These complain that black employees were denied promotions, were subjected to racist graffiti, found nooses hanging in their lockers, and
resist, even if those incentives consist only of free care for a sick child in a research program. The psychological stress of caring for a sick or dying child may cause parents to grasp at quixotic research straws, as Baby Fae’s parents did. She was born on October 14, 1984, with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a fatally undeveloped heart. Leonard L. Bailey, M.D., chief of surgery at Loma Linda University, convinced her young, unmarried, poor white parents to allow him to implant the heart of a
schools blindly tossed the bones of African American dissection subjects into its basement, but today’s medical schools provide anatomical subjects with burials. Many medical schools also hold memorial services at the conclusion of each anatomy course. Family members are invited and students offer prayers, poems, thanks, and remembrances. There are candles and tears. One would be hard-pressed to distinguish these services from the memorials for any beloved friend or family member. CHAPTER 6
ill-advised. Finally, the IUD was unmasked as a killer: It became associated with deadly infections that hampered or destroyed users’ fertility. Later, scientists determined that the braided string descending from the wire of the Dalkon Shield IUD provided a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. Most IUDs were taken off the market by the 1980s. Because Dalkon Shields were primarily dispensed in inner-city clinics, some activists charged that black women had been targeted to test a form of birth