Posted by: Ophelia | April 29, 2008

So, why don’t the major news networks care about this?

Experimentation on low income, black families continues.

US Government Engages in New Tuskegee Type Experiments

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.

The lack of a medical follow up indicates that perhaps the research wasn’t going as well as they had hoped and presumably any harm done to the participants is merely collateral damage. The U.S has a long history of medical experimentation conducted on the most vulnerable in order to perfect techniques that would later help the majority. In a society that loves to claim that racism is a bad thing that happened in the past, how exactly can they turn a blind eye to racism and classism operating in the here and now in a tangible and historically relevant manner? The most blatant antecedent is Tuskegee but Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid demonstrates that it certainly wasn’t the first incidence of medical experimentation conducted on blacks–and this incident proves that it surely won’t be the last. Her work also details the history of American gynecology, namely the practices of J. Marion Sims and his experiments that would lead to the perfection of a vaginal fistula surgery, conducted on slaves procured for the specific purpose, held down, cut apart and sewn up without the anesthesia that would be provided for white patients of the perfected surgery. The scoffing at black distrust of the medical establishment is rarely informed of these facts–perhaps because they are not readily available. For every media outlet that howled in outrage at Reverend Wright’s suggestion about AIDS manufacture, there is a deafening silence about the truthful experimentation on blacks.

As long as we continue to turn a blind eye, history will repeat itself.

(Perhaps this is why I couldn’t just “get over” the recent dust up over that Planned Parenthood was willing to accept money from a donor specifically for the destruction of black children. “Understandable” indeed considering Margarent Sanger’s belief in negative eugenics focused on the ethnic and the poor. Does Planned Parenthood do good work? Yes. But again, feminism has eschewed the reality of non white women for the history that lauds the organization for the aid it has given to white women–in the process of harming others. I saw so many women offering that the history does not matter, only the current status of the organization–but obviously, there are manifestations of its historical mission in its current execution. It’s just easier to forget about them because they make us feel bad. If a company is doing good things, we should only support them, and never question their motivations past or present–I do not ascribe to this. No one is perfect, nor is any organization, and they should know that.)



  1. I bet that their reasoning for continuing with it is the whole “No one said anything” excuse. The people that are being exploited aren’t going to say anything because they’re too afraid. Worst of all, even if they WERE wanting to take action, they couldn’t because they couldn’t afford it.

  2. That’s horrible. I wonder who had the bright idea to test it in black neighborhoods.

  3. I read about that somewhere before I read it here. And sadly, I only recently became aware of the Tuskegee experiments in my feminist methodology course.

    And Lindsay, why not test it in poor, black neighborhoods? Those people are seen as expendable.


  4. And that smiley face looks happy for some reason. That’s not the kind of face I was looking for.

  5. I didn’t even know wordpress had emoticons, but I imagine the smiley confidently wondering what’s the worse that could happen–it’s not like anyone will find out about this :D.

  6. Did you guys notice that the links to the original story all seem to be down? That seems suspicious and creepy. Sometimes stories seem to just disappear off the internet – AP stories like the one about a detainee who died after being left out in the cold all night as part of his ‘interrogation,’ who was later found to be completely innocent. I read it on Yahoo news – from the AP – yet, when I went back later to show someone else, the story had vanished as thought it never existed.

  7. *Aside: I cannot wait to read the rest of Medical Apartheid this summer. Why don’t they ever assign books like that in schools? Oh, wait. I know why. I forgot, for one sweet moment, who it is that sets the agenda…*

  8. “Did you guys notice that the links to the original story all seem to be down?”

    Yeah, I actually meant to comment on it in the post but I had a brain fart. I thought they might come back up, but you’re right, it’s very weird that suddenly neither the AP nor Yahoo has the story up. Luckily the blogs copied the text. They can’t shut us up that easily.

  9. That’s horrible. I wonder who had the bright idea to test it in black neighborhoods.

  10. […] the government have specifically discriminated against minority and poor communities, please see outcrazyophelia’s excellent post on experimentation on unwitting, low income black […]

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