May 31, 2021

By Chanel (Grade 8 Student from Earnscliffe Senior Public School)

(Photo: Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine Haunted by Tuskegee Experiment. Source: Rocky Mountain PBS)

The Tuskegee Syphilis study strengthens trauma and anxiety in the Black Community, leading to their rejection of the Covid-19 vaccine.

More data on intakes and impacts has been gathered from medical professionals nationally and internationally. They have discovered the lowest immunization intake levels are in the Black population. Black citizens fear that the government will intentionally harm them.

Around 400-600 Black Men from Macon County in Alabama, United States, were compelled to partake in a scientific experiment on the disease syphilis in the early 1930s. Numerous blood tests, x-rays, spinal taps, and autopsies were performed without consent. Their goal was to examine the history of untreated syphilis in black populations. The men were unaware of why these practices were being performed and were told they were being treated for “bad blood.” They later discovered a safe and functional cure, but zero was given to these communities. Just before the last few years of slavery, scientific racism was used to justify the African slave trade, which included wrongful treatment and dehumanization. The tyrants claimed that the men were unique for enslavement. Black Americans were often argued that they were “different species” to white Americans. Being discriminated against changed Blacks’ perceptions and trust in the White community. This made it difficult for the black community to put their trust in the government, which primarily consists of white people.

Oftentimes, people dismiss the fact that Black Women are regularly treated poorly in the health-care system.

How Black Men are to Police Officers, Black Women are to Doctors.

Henrietta Lacks was one of many victims who received unsuccessful cervical cancer treatment in 1951. Serena Thompson, vice president of the sickle cell association of Ontario, has sickle cell disease, which is a prominent illness in the Black community. She discovers that she must change her persona before contacting the ambulance so that she is not treated differently. The tendency to define sickle cell patients as drug seekers is a major part of the problem of systemic racism in Canadian healthcare. Serena Thompson claims that many Black Canadians are socialized from birth to disguise some of their pain. When Serena is in excruciating pain and tells the nurse, “my pain level is at a ten.” “Oh, you don’t look like you’re in a lot of pain,” usually responds the nurse.

Jezel W, a healthcare worker & Sheldon W, an essential worker who both live in Brampton states, “They have their doubts and uncertainty about the government’s choices, the constant spread of conspiracy theories, the pressure and the worrisome side effect cases of blood clot.” As a healthcare worker, Jezel W says, “she sees more racialized people than non-racialized people, and on a daily basis she has to witness many people lose their battle to Covid-19.”

Black and Latino Americans/Canadians are three times more likely than White Americans/Canadians to die from Covid-19 and they are four times more likely to be hospitalized.

Black individuals are frightened of vaccines and their long-term side effects and impacts, but they are also fearful of simple medical attention such as doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and dark skin black women are afraid of giving birth to their child. All because of the abuse they are accustomed to receiving. There have been numerous instances where Black people have been purposefully prescribed, diagnosed, or given incorrect information based solely on their skin colour. As a result, they frequently develop worse illnesses.

Anthony Hardy, a man in 30’s says “I’ve seen death from it. A sorority sister of my wife lost her baby after getting the vaccine”.

A woman says “ her husband and close friends plan on getting the vaccine” but she is a bit reluctant to move forward. The way the black community continues to medically treat black individuals makes her skeptical. Many men died, went blind and/or developed other life-threatening health issues.

Canada has a similar history of medical experiments on Indigenous children and abuse in residential schools. From the 1930s to the 1970s, they would perform cruel medical procedures and experiments without consent, such as vaccine experimentation, nutrition experiments, and dental observations, among other violent acts. Keep in mind that these similar procedures were performed on Black and Indigenous children with families, men who were providing for their families, women giving birth to new life, and grandparents who were in their final stages of life. They were brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, cousins, grandparents, husbands and wives, and the list goes on and on.

The rate of Covid-19 death is three times high for white Americans/Canadians, and 4 times higher for Black & Hispanic Americans/Canadians. Compared to Covid 19 deaths, the Black and Hispanic Communities received a lower share of Covid 19 vaccines. It is worth mentioning, Black scientists played a significant role in the development of both vaccines. According to a Washington poll, 63 % of adults believe they will receive the covid-19 vaccine. In comparison to 70% of whites and 78% of Hispanics. Washington Post states data shows that black children are more likely than white children to suffer from vaccine injuries and hospitalizations.

Unfortunately, apologizing will not be the most effective way to motivate the black community to get the vaccine. The damage is already done. The history is much deeper and haunting, and the impact is indescribable. The way people of colour have been treated for centuries will be difficult to resolve in a few months or years.

“If the government were to express remorse and systemically justify for the Black Community she would consider receiving the vaccine.” Shanyce W says. Because they do not express sympathy or take action, black citizens believe the government is untrustworthy. Instead, they choose to deliver affirmations that lead to the same recurring issues. Rather than extinguishing the fire, the government adds more water to the oil, causing it to burn longer. The government’s promises have consistently failed and/or disappointed the Black community.

Transgenerational effects of mass trauma can express themselves in multiple ways, including risky health behaviours, anxiety and guilt and as well as changes in parenting styles. According to researchers, transgenerational trauma can have psychological, social, cultural, neurobiological, and possibly even genetic effects.

Speak to a medical professional if you or someone you know plans to get the vaccine or experience any of the above.

(Editor’s Note: The Bramptonist has partnered with Earnscliffe Senior Public School and the Grade 7/8 class of teacher Rosemary Skea. Students have prepared a series of articles with the goal of having their voices heard in their own community. Other than minor changes for grammar and spelling, the Bramptonist has not edited any of the articles. The student writings are from their own unique lens of how they see their own environment, which the Bramptonist promotes).