Inequalities of Race
In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, race is one of the main themes as Skloot tells her story about Henrietta. When Henrietta goes to the doctor to discover some pain that she has and how the doctors took samples out of her without her consent. Since she is African American, the doctors assume that she is uneducated and do not tell her what is wrong with her body. Henrietta was not the only one though, in the 1950's doctors attempted various procedures on African Americans and other races like Latinos. Many were exploited and their bodies were used for medical reasons and were not treated like human beings, but like experiments. In the reading, Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson discusses the distinctions between whites and blacks and it connects to Henrietta because both stories deal with racism and prejudice views.
While undergoing treatment, the doctors were careless and did not tell Henrietta important information about her body. Since Henrietta needed treatment for her cancer, she had to go 20 miles to John Hopkins hospital since it was one of the few that helped colored patients. There was a significant amount of segregation and it was difficult to find a place that served colored people. This connects to the doctors not telling Henrietta important information about her body because although they accepted colored patients, they did not treat them equally. For example, although Henrietta's doctor claimed that she was receiving the same care as any other white patients, “several studies show that black patients were treated and hospitalized at later stages of their illness than white patients...once hospitalized, they received fewer pain medication, and higher mortality rates”(Skloot 64). There is no doubt that Hopkins Hospital is one of the best in the country but it does not mean anything when they are not treating their patients equally. It gets worse when Henrietta was asking her doctors...
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