Monday, 14 April 2008

US Goverment Engages in New Tuskegee Type Experiments

From Yahoo News, and reprinted from Bakare Chronicle:

Although whites would have us believe that AIDS could NOT have been started by whites and that the Tuskegee Experiment could never happen again,

BALTIMORE - Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any harmful ingredients.

Nine low-income families in Baltimore row houses agreed to let researchers till the sewage sludge into their yards and plant new grass. In exchange, they were given food coupons as well as the free lawns as part of a study published in 2005 and funded by the Housing and Urban Development Department.

The Associated Press reviewed grant documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and interviewed researchers. No one involved with the $446,231 grant for the two-year study would identify the participants, citing privacy concerns. There is no evidence there was ever any medical follow-up.

Comparable research was conducted by the Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency in a similarly poor, black neighborhood in East St.Louis, III. Yahoo News

Apparently, our Federal government, or at least HUD and the EPA have forgotten one of it's more blatant instances of racism and egregious errors in judgment, the Tuskegee experiment. It is impossible to read these two lines,

Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any harmful ingredients.

There is no evidence there was ever any medical follow-up. Yahoo News

and not be filled with the memory, if you learned of it in history, of those young men in Tuskegee, FL, being lied to and experimented on to see the results that unchecked syphilis would have on their health. NO MEDICAL FOLLOW-UP!

It galls me. It galls me that the major news institutions can make federal cases out of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's prophetic indignation at a nation whose policies undervalue and marginalize whole populaces, and reduce it to the rantings of a mad man, when in our own backyard our own government is conducting more experimentation on its citizens!

Why isn't this being proclaimed as foul from every mouth-piece with a microphone?! Because racism and classism are bedfellows. Because distributive justice is a principal ingrained in the system, and the idea that their is a "God ordained" gap in the rich and poor is a philosophy most hard to relinquish. Especially when it has worked for you for centuries.

Truly did James Baldwin say:

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.

Truer words have never been spoken. However, I would have to add "and minority" to Baldwin's sage words. For as the story goes on to say, and I suggest you read the whole thing:

Another study investigating whether sludge might inhibit the "bioavailability" of lead — the rate it enters the bloodstream and circulates to organs and tissues — was conducted on a vacant lot in East St. Louis next to an elementary school, all of whose 300 students were black and almost entirely from low-income families. Yahoo News

I believe I can rest my case.

1 comment:

The Urban Scientist said...

What is your point? That the recent research was done in those neighborhoods or that the research was done and people were harmed?

If people were harmed and they were not fully alerted to the dangers (I doubt that) and they were not treated and the incident was swept under the rug, then you have point.

The Tuskegee Exp was a sad page in history, but let's keep things in perspective. 1. Monitoring the unchecked effects of syphillis in blacks was a good experiment - at that time. Back then, Syphillis was unchecked in everybody and because of racist beliefs, many people really believed that similar treatment in blacks as whites would have been a waste. As sad it is sounds, the doctors wanted to prove (not just provide anecdotal evidence) that Syphillis harms black people just as bad.
2. What made the Tuskegee Exp egregious was the fact that a cure had been found and they did NOT Inform the participants.

Since that case, the laws and ethics of clincal research have improved dramatically. Remember the finding that hormone therapy might be harmful to menopausal women? They pulled that treatment and halted that study. That's how research works now.

I understand the sensitivily we have that poor, marginalized people may be being taken advantaged of in research studies. But that fear and the campaign against research is harmful. It just let's me know that the need to increase scientific literacy among black people is not just limited to the marginalized and under-educated. I keep discovering that even presumably well-educated, colleged black people like you are still more keyed up emotionally and largely ignorant about science and how it proceeds.