Be Informed

Our course epigraph ““My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.”–Dionne Brand, from notes that Beth during the question-and-answer session following Brand’s March 2, 2013 reading at the Northeast Modern Language Association in Toronto” (course syllabus), makes me think about all the things that I have never noticed and been blind to. I feel as though it is better to know than to not know, and I feel as though it is your job to be an informed citizen wherever you are. My whole life I have been blind to the fact that our modern medicine has gone through experimentation with the use of slaves without their consent. So many people have never questioned the history of our medicine and therefore have never known the horrors of how it came to be. This makes me truly upset, and one goal I have for this semester in this class is to learn as much as I can about how our modern day medicine has come about so I can be more informed and inform others. In the first few chapters of Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington I have learned so much more than I feel I would have learned about this matter in my whole life. I never knew that gynecological instruments were tried involuntarily on slaves. I also learned that there are many accounts of people of color going missing, and when they pass away their bodies are awarded or sold to medical schools for students to run experiments on. There was a man named Ota Benga, who was taken from his country and awarded to Samuel Phillips Vernon after finding that his family and tribe had been slaughtered. Benga was locked in the monkey habitat at the zoo and put on display for everyone to see. They locked Benga up so that they could show the theory of evolution. After attacking people they released Benga and the African American people of the community raised money so they could send Benga to college. He ended up committing suicide years later. Stories like this would never have been told if it were not for Harriet A. Washington writing this book. We learned in class that iatrophobia is the fear of medicine, and many people of color have this fear because of the horrendous history of how modern medicine came to be. I mean who can blame them? I find myself getting upset reading about all these things that have happened in our history that no one has talked about, none of this is common knowledge. Another goal I have for this class is to become informed, and inform other people. While there is not much we can do about the past now, knowing about all these things can keep from having history repeat itself.

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