This tragedy is compounded by the fact that so many of us don't even know we are
being used in this manner.
Thanks to the persistence of reporter Eileen Wellsome of The Albuquerque Tribune, whose special report last November titled "The Plutonium Experiment" cracked open a decades long scandal of radiation experiments on unsuspecting citizens throughout the country, we are now seeing evidence of the atomic age horrors that so many in the scientific community and government knew but kept silent about. It is a collection of U.S. government sponsored guinea pig experiments. But there is also another sad fact: The experiments reveal a disturbingly large involvement of people of color, especially African-Americans.
Though it is clear that other reports of radiation tests on civilians--mainly poor, disadvantaged, or mentally impaired--during the Cold War were not limited to blacks only, they do show a continuing legacy of medical science using unsuspecting African Americans. There is little or no informed consent involved. This is nothing new as all African-Americans share a common medical/scientific history: Black lives are easily expendable. Thus it is no surprise that this bitter legacy has found renewal with the recent revelations of the Cold War radiation experiments.
E. Cooper Brown, Director of the National Committee of Radiation Victims, says, "It is my guess that all those experimented on with radiation will turn up to be at least 60 per cent people of color, with a large portion being African Americans." If this is indeed true, then African Americans will be part of yet another medical/scientific nightmare comparable to--and even surpassing--the Tuskegee experiments.
The Tuskegee experiments were a 40 year government sponsored medical study begun in 1932 that allowed 399 late stage syphilitic African American men to go untreated, even when safe and effective medical treatments were available in the 1940s. Also affected were 50 wives who were infected by their husbands and 20 children who were given the disease congenitally. When the study became public in 1972 after an expose by Jean Heller of the Associated Press, there was much public outcry with many in the black community saying the study already confirmed their suspicions of a governmental plan for genocide of black Americans. Congress held hearings to investigate the study resulting in passage of the 1974 National Research Act which implemented stricter federal guidelines on research institutions using federal money and mandating institutional review boards to oversee research using human subjects-which are currently being violated on a grand scale.
As in the Tuskegee experiments, the radiation tests also show a very benign concern by the researchers for their black patients. When we interviewed Dr. Louis A. Gottschalk, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the 1969 study "Total and HalfBody Irradiation," we asked him was there follow-up on the patients to see if any were still alive during 1969 (his study looked at 16 patients, 13 of which were black). He said, "These were terminal cancer patients. I was interested in just cognitive aspects--there were no follow-ups."
Lets examine what is currently known regarding the involvement of African Americans in the Cold War radiation tests: The Cincinnati Experiments - info. in another post coming soon.