A Wealth of Knowledge Unshared, and the Need for Discussion

I believe that where this class curriculum excels is in its ability to showcase aspects of American history that would otherwise slip through the cracks of our country’s education system. I think that it’s very easy for us as individuals to say that we have a good understanding of the struggles of African Americans during particularly disappointing time periods in our nation. I know if I were to be asked prior to this course, I most likely would have said I pretty much know what went on. I don’t think that’s necessarily my fault, although it was undoubtedly pretty ignorant of me to believe that I knew the full scope of such things. I think an ongoing issue is the fact that in order to learn about the medical injustices that plagued African Americans, you truly have to seek out information on the topic or be lucky enough to take a class such as this. I suppose there could be an argument made for the specificity of the topic, similar to how an American History class doesn’t cover every battle of every war. However, the battles and wars get mentioned, at least in passing, in order to establish that “yes this happened, we don’t have time to cover it, but just know that is something worth mentioning.” Well, if there was ever a topic about African American history worth mentioning, I’d be hard-pressed to argue anything other than the medical aspect, especially knowing what I know now. I’m not unreasonable; I know that in an ideal scenario the American education system would highlight every injustice, and I also know that is simply an impossibility. My issue stems from the fact that, unlike those wars and battles, I did not know a page worth of information in Medical Apartheid prior to taking this class, and frankly if I hadn’t taken the class I would continue to not know. I believe that’s an injustice to the generations of African Americans whose lives were ruined because of medical practices that completely went against the Hippocratic Oath. I’m a major advocate of the idea that it is better to openly discuss tragedies rather than act as though they never happened. It seems childish to compare, but one of my favorite examples is how Disney addressed the racist depictions in some of their early cartoons. In the Disney animated box set, it begins with Whoopi Goldberg explaining that some of these cartoons have very vulgar and off-putting content, but it is imperative to keep them in the compendium, although they no longer represent the values of Disney. She goes on to say that pretending as if they never happened would be more disrespectful than showing this content. Do I believe that every history teacher I ever had knowingly avoided a discussion about the topics in Medical Apartheid? No, I do not. I do believe however, that there is a severe lack of information being shared. I’m appreciative that I gained insight on this topic, and I hope that the racist medical practices enter the “common knowledge” territory of African American history.

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