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.)