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Hawkins on History of Medical Exploitation of Black Americans: The Conversation

Communications Studies assistant professor Deion Hawkins writes for the academic news site The Conversation about examples in U.S. history of medical exploitation of Black Americans, as the family of Henrietta Lacks recently received a settlement in a case against Thermo Fisher Scientific regarding profits from use of her cells without permission.

Hawkins points to The Tuskegee experiment, 18th and 19th-century grave robbing, and Philadelphia experiments on incarcerated Black people in the 1950s through 1970s, among others. Recently, incarcerated Black men in Arkansas were given a variety of drugs, including Ivermectin (used to treat cows and horses), to treat COVID-19.

A groundbreaking study published in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences in 2016 revealed a somber truth: Some medical professionals still believe there are biological differences between Black and white patients.

In turn, they are less likely to treat Black patients for pain. The study further found that nearly half of the medical students in the study believed Black people have less sensitive nerve endings.

It’s my belief that revealing the dark history of medical racism is key to making sure that past injustices do not recur.

Read The Conversation piece.

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