Monday, August 22, 2011

Medical Apartheid: They Put a Hole in A Black Man's Head Using Radiation; Of Course the Eugenicists Love Black Folks

Easing into Monday.

True dignity is uncommon. When we encounter it, especially from the elder gods, we must embrace its lessons.

Thus, Kapla my brother! Your heart and soul possess great honor. You teach us all.

Nevertheless, medical Apartheid is real.

Science is not neutral. It serves the interests of the powerful. That is hard for some to believe, but curse me my respect for Foucault's wisdom.

One of the reasons I started WARN was to talk to folks that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to engage with. Chris Sharp, one of our kind folks who comment here, forwarded me this link about forced sterilization. The Mississippi appendectomy is real history.

As you all know, I challenge my students with the faces and words of real people. The Millennials are possessed of a short term memory Youtube age, where if they do not have a visual, said event never occurred. I give them no quarter or comfort. I bring on tears for their benefit. The following will serve that end:

You should see the faces when I teach On Killing and show them war porn. They look away. I smile. But I thought they were bad men and bad women? Apparently, most are not.

In all, Chris Sharp's suggestion will be added to my classroom rotation. Eugenics was a joint project of the Nazis and of White American elites. University departments, intellectuals, scientists, and others were invested in the global project that is/was White supremacy. I know that hurts for some to hear. It is the truth. We ought not to retreat from it.

Savages did eventually becomes negroes. One of them became President. So again, I guess there is progress. Is there not?


Anonymous said...

With this post you're coming a lot closer to my intellectual neighborhood, CDV.

I am continually amazed at how little people understand about the intensity of the American devotion to eugenics and eugenicist ideas during the progressive era.

As you may or may not know, here in my fair state we are currently following the activities of an executive task force appointed by the gov'nah to address the issue of reparations for the ~7600 women who were forcible sterilized by the state. If this does pass, my state will be the first to authorize such compensation, itself an interesting possibility.

The history of American public health is simply saturated with racial and class prejudices, and eugenics is only one (major) example of this phenomena. Heck, most sterilization laws were only officially repealed in the 1970s.

Minor quibble with your writing: 20th c. eugenics is IMO not properly understood as a joint project of Nazis and White American elites. In its intellectual origins in mid-to-late 19th c. (my period), it flourished in America and Britain, and was significantly more advanced in these states than in Germany, which was a relative late-comer to the eugenics scene. Hitler's favorite periodical in prison was The Dearborn Observer, suggesting at least in part that Third Reich-style eugenics borrowed a great deal, particularly in its earlier instantiations, from American eugenics (there is a great deal of additional evidence for this argument).

Thus, eugenics is better understood as a global project of Eurocentrism and Whiteness, rather than as a joint project of Nazis and White American elites, although of course we know of significant exchange between the latter groups specifically.

chaunceydevega said...

That is a very important distinction. To think of these as international issues of the colorline and how whiteness works in that context. So provincial sometimes, my American habit.

We can also talk about the eugenics policies w. Australia and elsewhere. As I did with symbolic racism, I may do a quick post on race and nationhood.

Tell me more about the case you are working on. Has there been public outcry or shame? Or is this just one more bit of little known history that most would rather ignore?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm not actively working on it. I'm not an historian of eugenics; but because I work on health inequities, the social determinants of health (esp. race and class), and also on the American history of public health, I'd feel like even more of a charlatan than I normally do if I didn't edumacate myself on the subject. So while I'm probably a bit more than an interloper, I'm definitely a lot less than an expert.

In any case, it has continually made the news. There's a news item in the regional media just about every week, with some national coverage.

Bear in mind, I have only recently moved to my state, so I'm probably not quite as up-to-speed on goings on as to the history of eugenics here as others. But I'm trying to inform myself as rapidly as possible.

Regarding your question in particular, my understanding is that an intrepid journalist really forced the public's eye to the stories with a series of reports in 2002. The reports were (of course?) presaged by an academic book written by an historian, but what is most interesting about this book is that the author apparently had an immense amount of difficulty convincing the authorities to turn over the relevant documentation, eventually resorting to FOIA and its state counterparts to compel compliance. I know you'll be shocked, shocked I say, to hear this.

If you're interested in some of the details, email me off-blog and I'll try to put some links together for ya. But Google News set to the last few months should turn up oodles of links, too.

DebC said...

cd...I had to wait and collect myself after watching the "Hole in the Head" clip before commenting and all I can still say is - "Lawd ha' mercy, what evil lurks in the hearts (and minds) of men!"

I'd posted this a month or so ago under "Things that make me go Hmm..." in the side-bar and saved it so I could follow the process: "North Carolina's reparation for the dark past of American eugenics"

Oh Crap said...

I was actually really surprised they're even talking about any kind of reparations for people who had to suffer under that filthy NC program. When I first heard the news about it, around 2 mos ago, I nearly drove off the road from surprise. I used to link to the W-S Journal's mea culpa site, often.

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