Should African Americans Be Treated In The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

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In the past African Americans have been treated differently than whites. During slavery, African Americans were seen as half-human and half-animal. Then they were inferior to whites, and that they did not deserve to have the same materials as whites. Today society still sees African Americans as less educated, having less money, criminals, and there are still some people who believe that they are inferior to whites. African Americans are seen this way because of how they were treated in the past and the lack of education in the medical field. The novel The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks gives plenty of examples of how people thought that African Americans were inferior to whites, and that they should not be treated the same as whites.
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An example of this is shown when the doctors called Day for samples of his children’s blood to make sure that they did not have the same cancer cells as their mother.2 Day had his children do the blood sample, and then when they asked for their blood again Deborah allowed it. She allowed mainly because she was afraid of what happened to her happening to her. The doctors lied to the Lacks family because they just wanted to be able to see which cells were HeLa in the other research studies that the doctors were studying because the HeLa cells were contaminating every cell in their other research studies.3
Skloot touches base on the Tuskegee study in the novel. This study shows how doctors did painful research on African Americans knowing the full extent of the research. The Tuskegee study was a study conducted on African Americans with syphilis. Even though the doctors knew that penicillin could cure syphilis they still wanted to see the long-term effects. They would not cure the African Americans, and would watch how the disease progressed.4 This still goes back to whites thinking that African Americans were half- human and half-animal during the time of
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The same Black Codes allowed producers to take back African American children and giving them back to slave holders (Am 440). Even more than a decade after the Civil War African American children were still treated as not being completely human. This is shown when Deborah and Skloot go to the mental hospital, Crownsville State Hospital, to find the records of Deborah’s older sister, Elise. There they found a picture that showed Elise being forced to look into the camera, her face battered and bruised. Her records also showed how she as well as other patients were in the Pneumoencephalographic and skull X- ray studies on the people who had epilepsy. This is where they would drill holes into the patients’ skull to leak the spinal fluid out and pump air into the empty space to get better X-rays, and usually this is happening when the patient is still awake.

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