Thursday, February 08, 2007

Some thoughts after reading Newsweek (February 12, 2007)...

This bitch picked up my February 12 issue of Newsweek, looked at the cover and had to sigh.

So that’s what everyone is talking about!

Paris Hilton of the celebutant vacant stare possessing Hiltons and Brittany Spears (there are no words…none) grace the cover with the article heading The Girls Gone Wild Effect.


A bitch is concerned about this editorial decision! Meach (we’re not close, but what are the odds of him reading this anyway?)…honey, baby followed by darling! With everything going on in the world today…why?


You’re just lucky a bitch was desperately seeking reading material this morning since the morning news was still puking adult diaper inspired speculation!

The thing is Newsweek actually had some good shit in the February 12 issue…you had to dig a bit, but it was there!

A bitch was particularly interested in Brutal Case Studies by Allison Samuels, which profiles the book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet Washington. Having just attended the NAPW Summit, where many a discussion of ethics and medicine went down, a bitch was drawn in.

As Allison Samuels points out, most people are aware of the Tuskegee experiment where black men with syphilis were allowed to die untreated so that research could be conducted post mortem. What is not as well known are the cases of forced sterilization as part of the American eugenics movement…or the Norplant birth control experiments in Baltimore in the 1990s.

Trust that this book is on order!

As many of you know, a bitch volunteers with teen mothers here in St. Louis. I have written about the struggles and triumphs…and about the impact the removal of comprehensive sex education from the classroom has had on my community. But the lack of comprehensive sex education does not stand alone…it occupies space with the history of medicine as practiced on women of color in this country. Because of the atrocities of the past this bitch and other activists must battle the mistrust left behind.

Fear of medical clinics, because of the whispers and rumors that are revealed to have been born in fact. Women of color…Native American, Black, Hispanic…who entered clinics to give birth and left unable to have more children.

Fear of birth control because so and so told you know who that what’s her name got "the shot" and it made her sick. Because of the Norplant incident and others…because of the real cases behind all of those rumors.

The cost to communities of color is great. Reluctance to seek medical treatment because of legitimate fear of medical practitioners can be deadly. And the work of activists is further complicated when the language of reproductive freedom is used. Activists become suspects and legitimate treatment is seen as abuse.

Which brings me to why this history matters…why it has to be explored so that it may never be repeated…why providers need to be aware of how some things may be received and why they are received that way…and why we must work to shine a light into those painful dark corners so that the cycle can end.

So thank you Ms. Samuels...and Newsweek... for bringing this book to my attention.

I must say that page 49 was worth having to wade through the seven pages dedicated to the exploration of “prosti-tots"...


roslynholcomb said...

One of the best books I've read on this topic is Killing the Black Body. The history of the eugenics movement is amazing. I got interested when I discovered that Fannie Lou Hamer (one of my heroes) was a victim. Went in for fibroids, came out sterile and didn't even know it. Fucked up to say the least!

Unknown said...

Norplant issue? Please enlighten me. I was a Norplant Guinea Pig, and hated hated hated the damn things. The issue was breakthrough bleeding-constant, non-stop, for months. As birth control it worked great-who wanted to do anything when always OTR. The staff refused to remove them-give it time, they said. You shouldn't have breakthrough bleeding, being a woman of size. I finally had to threaten to have the implants removed elsewhere, at my expense, before they took them out. Did the FDA ever approve Norplant?

roslynholcomb said...

Interestingly enough, back when Norplant came out I asked my doctor about it. She said, 'They're not for women like you.' I was dealing with some other stuff at the time so I didn't inquire any further. But I can only assume that she meant women of my class(?). Because I'm obviously black.

Maven said...

Here is a quote from the website Living in Hell, which is a website promoting the book of the same name, which is currently at the top of my wishlist:

[...]"It relates how a government uses the name of God to manipulate and suppress people, especially women, in the most barbaric ways."

Gee... sound eerily familiar?

Maven said...

One more book for the bookpile:

War Against The Weak.

Some scary stuff!

christine mtm said...

of course the headlines on all the papers today was "was anna nicole murdered?"

poor thing.

have you seen the video by kiri davis, "a girl like me?"

thought of it while you were talking about experiments.

Maya's Granny said...

I live in a community with a large Native American population. I am forever hearing horror stories about what happened to these women in the past. It is truly sickening to think that people did these things to other people. And so often in the name of God.

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