A Whole New World

Being a first semester freshman does not have all the perks of being a college student.  You don’t know what classes to take when registering for the first time at orientation, changing your major seems like such a foreign concept, and deciding to speak during class discussion is probably the toughest part since you don’t want to sound ignorant about a certain topic.  However, I got lucky enough to register for this class during orientation even though I saw it and initially thought it was going to be undeniably hard. After taking this class for the entire semester, I am glad I ended up registering for it that day because it has opened my eyes to a whole new world around me.

Prior to taking this course, I thought I knew a majority about African American history and frankly, wasn’t really interested in learning more due to high school history classes making learning such hell.  This class was the complete opposite. At some points, I didn’t even realize that I was learning about such historic times in our nation’s history; I thought I was just reading an article that I was told to react to and prepare for class in the days to come.  High school history classes would introduce a topic/time period in history, just scratch the surface and practically move on to the next topic a day or two later. I’m glad this course did not do that and we were able to go in depth about certain topics and discuss with one another our own viewpoints or experiences with each reading.

One book that I was not excited to read was Medical Apartheid, even though it turned out to be one of the most informational and eye-opening readings throughout this semester.  It caused me to think of worlds outside of my own and realize that unethical testings and experimentations do indeed still occur to this day, if not just a couple years prior. One experimentation that I was not thrilled to have read about was the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.  A group of sick sharecroppers had been told they were going into a study to be examined on the progression of syphilis in black men as they would be treated for this disease. The researchers had lied to the men and did not treat them for the disease, but instead did nothing to help and solely charted/documented the progression of symptoms and disorders.  The physicians then proceeded to conduct autopsies on the bodies of these men to go more in depth in their research and “trace the ravages of the disease in their bodies” (Washington, 157).  

To me, I was taken aback by the lack of informed consent given to these men who were clearly sick and dying.  I do not agree with the reasoning for conducting this study on these men: “ …it was thought to wreak its worst havoc on the cardiovascular systems of blacks, sparing their relatively primitive and ‘underdeveloped’ brains”. Personally, I don’t believe that the view projected upon black men during that time should have had such a primitive factor in being a cause for them to suffer and die from a syphilis study where they were under the wrong assumption.  As I mentioned prior, this course has opened a new world to me and made me realize certain things were occurring in this life that I never knew could even be thought of by people around me. I am glad that I took this class as a freshman, allowing me to go through college with an open mind and a new way of looking at different situations and readings.

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