Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

Front Cover
Harlem Moon, 2006 - Medical - 501 pages
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 Apartheidis 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 Apartheidreveals 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 readMedical Apartheid, a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.

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User Review  - TLCrawford - LibraryThing

After reading medical history for a few years I have become accustomed to the fact that until about 200 years ago physicians offered nothing more than comfort and false hope. Thanks to Harriet ... Read full review

Ill be back again.

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I can say with all sincerity that in the many years that I have been shopping at that it has always been a satisfying experience. Read full review


A Troubling Tradition
Antebellum Medical Experimentation with
The Popular Display of Black Bodies
Black Bodies in the Antebellum Clinic
Anatomical Dissection and Display
FREEDOM The Civil War Emancipation
What Really
The Rise of Molecular Bias
Illness as Crime
African American Martyrs to Surgical Technology
American Bioterrorism Targets Blacks
Medical Research with Blacks Today

The Usual Subjects
Radiation Experiments on African Americans
Research on Black Prisoners
Research Targets Young

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About the author (2006)

HARRIET A. WASHINGTON has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University. As a journalist and editor, she has worked for USA Today and several other publications, been a Knight Fellow at Stanford University and has written for such academic forums as the Harvard Public Health Review and The New England Journal of Medicine. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards for her work. Washington lives in New York City.

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