When a Body is Valued Over a Person

Perhaps the most interesting reading material in my opinion was “Chapter 12: On The Dissecting Board.” This Chapter tells the Story of Belton, an African American teacher elected to succeed the position of a former teacher who was forced to resign following a law deeming white men teaching black students illegal. His story very much depicted the degree that African Americans were viewed as specimen rather than people. Like many, Belton was the victim of an unfair arrest, after refusing to purchase food at an establishment that wouldn’t let him sit down. The conversation between a doctor and postmaster who saw him was disgusting, with very blatant descriptions about the “specimen” and the things he would do if it meant he would have the ability to dissect him. This eventually came to fruition, with the initiation of a lynching in return for a barrel of whiskey, courtesy of the doctor. In general, this falls in line with the stories and examples found throughout Medical Apartheid, but the manner in which this was written offered a type of story arc that immersed me to a certain extent. Not to say that I have any type of relatability, but even its brevity I found myself invested and empathetic towards Belton’s hardships. Especially when considering that he was ultimately a great person. Teaching is a very noble occupation, even more so during a time period where many sought to silence African Americans and keep them uneducated. That adds to the severity of the fact that he was only looked at as an experiment when he had nothing other than good intentions. He was a person, with values and hopes, and even seeking an occupation was met with hostility because his body was valued over him. Overall I appreciated this material, and considering how much it interested me coupled with the fact that it was (fairly) discussed than some of the longer works, it would be remiss of me to leave it unmentioned.

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